Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hi, Canada

After one of the longest journeys of my whole life (nearly 20 hours squeezed in economy class in two different yet identical aircrafts, hourly face mists and less than an hour of sleep), I made it home. Coming home after almost 5 years was quite moving, and all I can think about is, why didn't I visit before. It felt like I never left, an I've just had some lazy days hanging out in my family home, eating, drinking and lounging around.

My first observation was about how COLD Canada is at the moment. Montreal summer isn't summer! I'm freezing! All the summer clothes I brought are not keeping me warm, and I've been wearing jeans and long sleeved tops daily. It gets especially cold after 4-5 pm, the temperatures suddenly drop. I love how it stays light until 9pm. I love how everything is spacious and green. I've solely been subsisting on fruit and cheese. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, plums, oranges, watermelon… I can't stop eating fruit. And all those different varieties of cheese that would be extravagantly priced in Japan.

I feel a strong reverse culture shock. Everyone is so friendly here, people make small talk all the time, even at the airport, supermarket and drivers' license bureau. People make eye contact, and they randomly smile at me on the street. I feel so uptight and cold, but little by little I'm relaxing. I can't believe how warm people are here, it's like interacting with humans again, even though they are strangers.

I don't feel fat here. In Japan, I spend most days thinking I'm overweight and I'm obsessed with my weight and how I compare to others. In Canada, I'm average and probably below average- not only weight but height. I'm kind of small here, and I feel ridiculous and frustrated I've been so unhappy with my body for the last 5 years. It's nice to see people in all shapes and sizes, and also all different ethnicities. It's nice to hear French again, although I have to watch my mouth as I got used to saying things no one can understand.

It's nice to be home. I still don't know how I feel this place, in the sense that I'm not sure I would want to live in Montreal again. I need more time and more exploring. I'm also quite jet lagged and up before 7am every morning. I feel like Japan is a lot better for many things, but the quality of life is lower.

In the meantime I just enjoy resting, eating and doing things like going to the supermarket and having long talks with my mom at the kitchen table. I met our house cat, Adda, whom I had never met. It's a really pretty cat, but she seems scared of me. I just love being home and not doing much… I really needed that.

So hard to snap a photo 


An entire aisle dedicated to cereal 
Blueberries, raspberries and cream

lying in the garden

That's life


JoellaJ said...

Ahh Vivian, It's great to hear about you feel being back in Montreal! I have never been but yes, it must be very different from Japan..! I can understand the feelings of feeling 'fat' in Asia and then realising actually you are not at all back home! Such different places. Enjoy eating all the fruit and speaking French! :-)

Suteisi ♥ said...

Welcome back!! I enjoyed my stay in Japan so much but it feels really good coming home (I'm not too far from Montreal). I have thought several times to move to Japan but Canada seems to have my heart still. Though I could really do without the winter for sure!

philly said...

Friendly small talk, open space, greenery, eye contact, feeling that you have an attractive body again. Yes. All those things (and many more) that are part of being an insider rather than being always gaijin or foreigner. Japan is a very challenging as well as beguiling country on so many levels.

Loved that shot of you lying in the grass. The first time I returned from Japan in 1998, disembarked in Vancouver and walked the long, windowed corridor which gave an uninterrupted view across to the North Shore mountains, I wept. Something in my heart expanded the way it could not do in Japan.

Still, the following Saturday I had to get myself into the relatively new Yaohan Mall in Richmond and be tightly packed in narrow corridors with hordes of other Asian shoppers. The suburbs had no buzz. Funny how that works.

Anonymous said...

You're feeling the same as I did when I returned last summer. The warmth and friendliness of people is surprising when you haven't experienced it for so long. I've grown tired of the overly friendly nature of the people around me though, after a year here, in this tiny city I'm craving the anonymity of a large city where no one knows me and I don't have to feel rude if I don't want to say "hi" to the stranger that just passed by and greeted me.

:) hoping to be able to see you this weekend. We're arriving Friday evening and leaving on Sunday evening. If I can connect to wi-fi I'll contact you via Line.