The “Welcome Back to Canada” sign, Canadian flag and homemade Peanut Butter cookies were what greeted me as I climbed up the steps to my front door after more than four months of being away. (Thanks, Gramps!) Between the warm front porch welcome, and my parents’ braccia aperte (open arms) at the Arrivals gate of Pearson International, I felt pretty good about coming home.
So with that out in the open, I can report that I’ve been back from Italy and in my hometown for two months now. During this time I’ve officially graduated from my Masters degree program, landed a good job, enjoyed the Christmas season and caught up with my dearly missed family and friends. Not a bad way to spend two months, right? Right.
Except, woe is me! I was, and still am, suffering from a moderate case of the “Post-Travel Blues”. And let me clarify before going any further: my problem was not coming home to family and friends and Canada. My problem was leaving Italy. Don’t misunderstand. Non fraintendere. For the first little bit that I was back, I couldn’t even look at my travel photos for fear of being overcome with (even more) heartbreak and anguish than I already felt. I had to fight against the urge to run to the nearest airport and ruthlessly elbow my way onto the next flight back to Italia. I even thought of buying a dinghy and rowing across the Atlantic, you know, to beat the rising fuel costs and find a way around the astronomical cost of checking extra luggage.
Everything I ate was bland and tasteless. I told a restaurant manager that the tomatoes on my sandwich weren’t nice enough. Six months ago, I didn’t even like tomatoes on my sandwiches! I skipped listening to the Italian songs on my iPod that were too cariche (loaded) with memories. There were days I didn’t get out of my PJs. I began to measure money in terms of the number of plane tickets to Italy it could buy. I cried. I moped. I complained. There was a general sense of malinconia (melancholy) to each and every one of my thoughts and actions. I missed everything and (almost) everyone that belonged to my life in Italy.
All in all, it was a pretty low time for me.
Talking with fellow travellers and researching “post-travel depression”, I learned that I was not the only traveller to experience this type of end-of-voyage grieving. I then went on the hunt for a remedy, because no way in heck did I want to feel like this forever. What did other people do to get over it? Potions? Elixirs? Weird yoga routines? My research told me that some really did throw themselves back onto airplanes just to avoid the Post-Travel Blues all together. Some started planning their next adventure, thus probably just putting off their suffering for awhile. Some did nothing and probably never recovered, reduced to an existence of clutching their guidebooks close to their heart and staring blankly at the Travel Channel. And some decided to find new and challenging things to do back at home. Weighing my options and leaning heavily towards the one that included the next plane to Italy, I finally decided to give my “wings” a rest and see about test driving some “roots”. For awhile, anyways.
So I’m on the hunt for new and challenging things at home. And while I struggle every day with the restlessness and the voglia d’Italia (yearning for Italy) that are a part of me, I’m becoming less “blue” and more of a “winter-in-Canada” shade of pale. I happily look at my pictures, eat Italian food, listen to Italian music and talk to my friends about my experiences. The sadness has lessened, and I’ve really tried to adopt the “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” attitude. I’m still working on it, but I know it’s the way to go.