Apart from the endless unpacking, sorting and reorganizing of household items here in the apartment, there is the ongoing challenge of trying to remember where eight months' worth of stuff has been hidden, stored, sorted away... as someone was staying here while we traveled this past year, we elected to box up all of our clothes and personal items, leaving only furniture and basic kitchen supplies behind.
Where it all went is a mystery to me now, and it keeps me up at night, as I suddenly remember -- or think I remember -- where a certain object might be, and consider when and how we can get it back to 807.
Sure, we kept inventories... sort of. But unfortunately, my at the time apparently scrupulous list that include such items as "Rick's - assorted clothes" and "Caley's - bike stuff" doesn't enlighten me as to which box my socks are in in the mountain in Rick's closet, or whether "bike stuff" includes a pump, or if I should better take one with me to Caley's garage, where our bikes have been living for the past several months, tires likely in need of air...
Wedged in between scheming about how to reunite ourselves with our scattered belongings are mental planning sessions to prepare several upcoming workshops I am facilitating for teachers, which I have not put together concrete agendas or handouts for yet. This, too, keeps me up at night.
I took a break from it all yesterday, and went to my old school, to volunteer with a field trip. I packed up a box of Alfajors to share in the staff room, and set off to the bus stop for the ride across two transit systems, to Mississauga. (Boy, was I missing the comprehensive bus lines of Buenos Aires!)
Of course, the first question people ask is "HOW WAS ARGENTINA?" often followed by "How is it, being back?"
Although I was anticipating such queries, and had thought about them at length, I had not come up with a succinct and catchy response. I mean, how does one effectively summarize nearly a year spent on the other side of the equator? How does one describe the feeling of being "home" again after such an adventure to those who've never left?
It seems like only yesterday we were standing, somewhat stunned and in denial, out front of our BsAs apartment with all our luggage, waiting for our remise to the Airport, or ziplining across the canopy in Salta, or staring in awe at the Falls in Iguazu, or laughing and joking with the Marias and other friends...
And slowly, I am getting used to paying for things with bills that aren't disintegrating in one's hands, and to not checking my pockets every thirty seconds to make sure my phone hasn't been pick pocketed (I am locking the doors now, though!)
After a few days of lurching at and then pulling back awkwardly from everyone I meet, I am remembering sooner and with greater consistency that we do not kiss friends and strangers here, and am reverting to my old habits of a smile and a friendly handshake, or the occasional hug where warranted. That's been an unusually strange feeling; the kissing on one cheek habit was a hard one to acquire, and once programmed in, I'm finding it's a hard habit to shake. I guess I'm innately more touchy-feely than I thought I was.
I knew for sure that I was back in Toronto when -- on my way home yesterday -- I crossed the 427 bridge on the Queensway and had several people honk at me: A bike loaded down with two overstuffed panniers, a backpack, a box from the post office, and me would be irrelevant amongst the cartonaros, mopeds, and a million buses and cars on the streets of Buenos Aires; here in Toronto, such a thing stands out like a sore thumb, inviting incredulous stares from passing drivers, accompanied often by honking and the occasional outburst of profanity.
As I wheeled my now-too-full-to-ride bike two blocks home, I glanced around and drank in the familiar sights and sounds: An abundance of grass, the Lake and waterfront trail, Mimico Square, a bird symphony...
I got upstairs to the apartment, stood on the balcony, stared out over the tree canopy that defines Toronto, and thought, I'm tired, I miss our BsAs friends and some routines there, and here I am currently feeling somewhat engulfed in a never ending "to-do" list... But all in all, I'm happy to be home!