I’m writing this from my bedroom at Chez Hetherington in a place called Kirkland Lake. Alas no relation to the great Captain himself, this place was named after some administrative woman in the Canadian government back at the turn of the last century. It’s cold up here, but the massive lack of humidity compared to Toronto means that it actually doesn’t feel as cold as it did down there, the chill doesn’t snake into your bones quite as quickly or as fiercely as it does when in proximity to the heaving mass that is Lake Ontario. It’s a slightly surreal place. Surrounded by abandoned mines – the town is a receding gold mining town – and masses of forest and frozen over lakes, I see echoes of Gavle and the journey through northern Sweden I did with my friend to his mothers house around this time last year.
It’s a cool place to see though, a real window into that rural and rugged Canada I often imagined when back in the UK (I would put up some pictures but I’m having issues with my cameras memory card, so that’ll have to wait). Toronto is extremely multicultural, a blend of a thousand different ways of life, and whilst that doesn’t make it a bad place at all it doesn’t exactly echo that pure Canadiana that I was hoping to glimpse. So this has proven to be a worthwhile trip so far, giving me both huge piles of snow to be blinded by (since the winter here has been so extremely mild Toronto has barely seen any) and a look at that more stereotyped side of the country.
It’s also been nice to just generally get away from the city for a while. I know to some it will seem like I have taken a holiday within a holiday, but that’s not really the case. Most of the time I’m working, and we don’t exactly have a lot of spare cash going around to make this a 100% fun-time event. So it’s good to get away from things and take stock of things as they are so far.
It’s a rare thing in life to see a crossroads approaching before you’ve already taken the turn, but I have this not entirely enjoyable pleasure right now. I can see literally two entirely divergent paths in front of me not entirely unlike when I moved back up to Kent from Devon, setting my life on such a wildly different path to the one I would have walked had I remained behind. This time the paths involve potentially returning to the UK to follow a potentially lucrative opportunity – if I was very lucky anyway – or pressing on with my travels and striking out to New Zealand.
I’ve spoken to several people about this, and ultimately as my mother told me it’s simply a case of having to decide what it is I really want more. Which is pretty obvious but in practice but actually quite a hard choice to make.
Anyway, bolstered by the fact that I finally got a hefty tax rebate from the UK, a pay-rise, and a chunk of unclaimed holiday pay I’ve decided that whilst I could risk a load of money flying back to the UK for a fluttering chance at a nice job I’d much rather continue this current path of exploration. This trip to Kirkland Lake only reinforces this desire. When I’m sat back in my room in Toronto for ages not really doing anything other than working, eating and occasionally walking the city I do find myself getting somewhat wistful for ‘home’. However when I actually start doing stuff like this again, I’m reminded of one of the main reasons why I left for this journey in the first place.
So I’m going to go to New Zealand. I have the finances, I have a couple of ideas as to how I’m going to go about things and with any luck Dan will be able to come along as well. Because if I don’t do this now, I literally will never be able to go again due to the age restrictions on the Visas. And when it’s a tossup between possibly getting a job tangentially related to my dream employment scenario or the guarantee of fulfilling my life goal scenario of seeing more of the world it feels almost like I actually have already taken that turning. I just haven’t quite realized it yet.