So I've been home for a few days now. I wanted to blog several times when I was in Dublin, but my access to the internet was somewhat erratic; the hotel where we stayed wanted to charge an outrageous amount even just for a couple of days' worth of access, and we were there slightly over a week, so that didn't really work out that well; the few times I managed to hop online, it was generally to check my e-mail and it was with the not-strictly-legal use of an unprotected wireless network provided for the patrons of a café around the corner from the hotel. So I do have a few ideas for posts that came from my time abroad, but for now I'd like to meditate a bit on coming home.
I looked forward to it while I was away, of course, but I was travelling with a great group of people who I see fairly often at home anyway, so I have to admit that while I missed my mother and my cats and my friends who weren't with us, I was far from being homesick. I've always had a knack for getting settled in to most new places like they were home anyway, and because of all my walking and careful map research, within a couple of days I knew the immediate area close to where we stayed in Edinburgh and Dublin very nearly as well as I know most of my own city, and actually blended in so well that I got asked for directions several times. But coming home after being away for so long is always a bit of a shock, and this time it contained a few more actual surprises than usual...
The first big one was finding out that Jack Layton, who had been leader of the federal branch of Canada's New Democratic Party (which, along with the Green Party, is the most progressive political party we've got at the moment), had died of his cancer. I wasn't terribly shocked; I'd wondered if things were progressing in that direction when he resigned so soon after his party became Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. But it was an unpleasant surprise nonetheless. I didn't always agree with his policies, but I had a tremendous amount of respect for the man, and I hope that his successor as the head of the NDP is capable of continuing the work that he began; the NDP have been my country's conscience for eight years thanks to him, and with Stephen Harper enjoying the power that his majority government gives him, we are dearly going to need a very strong voice to say, "Hey, this isn't right!" when the Tories inevitably do something else that will not only weaken our social safety net, but hand even more money and power to those who need it the least.
The second was that my brother has rather suddenly broken up with his girlfriend of nearly six years (not a surprise because out of necessity she moved to another city last year, though they tried to keep their relationship together) and moved in with his new girlfriend. Furthermore, he and one of his friends are hitchhiking from Thunder Bay to Toronto. So I'm a little worried about him, but at least he's with a friend and there's some safety in numbers there, and I'm glad of that.
There are a few other personal surprises that I ran into, and I'm still recovering from a slight cold that I seem to have picked up in Ireland, and my sleep schedule is still kind of messed up, so coming home has been a little less pleasant than I had hoped that it would be. But if that's the worst that I can say, then I suppose I'm doing all right.