Canada's Gateway To The World

Trip Start Apr 02, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Monday, April 3, 2006

"Don't look back."

Somewhere in Canada...

I could hardly believe that it was actually happening... and happening so fast! One minute I was selling suits in Ottawa, the next I was unemployed and packing up my apartment, then I was back home in Cornwall, then I was at the Ottawa airport, thinking up this run-on sentence before saying my last good byes.

I hugged my parents one last time, thanking them for everything, and telling them I love them and that I'll be back in one piece.

With a brief moment's hesitation before stepping up to my first security check, I broke the first cardinal rule for turning your life around: "Don't look back." Seeing my parents so visibly caught up in the moment hit me hard... this was really happening. I swallowed the lump in my throat, gave them a wave and a smile and turned my attention to the disgruntled looking airport security staff. Since I was "clean", passing through security was quick and easy.

Once in the terminal, I started walking towards my gate but stopped to graciously give my camera-happy dad the surprise gift of one last photo opportunity. My parents made their way to the platform above the terminal, expecting to maybe catch a glimpse of me reaching my gate, and instead saw me standing in the middle of the terminal giving them the universal sign for "Take a Picture". I stood there waving until I was sure that my parents took the photo then turned around without breaking the rules again.

Can't say too much about my first flight... but from what I could tell, it was pretty typical. There were delays in taking off, so it felt like forever before we left the ground. Taking off in itself was an exhilarating feeling the first time... the whole plane shook and felt like it was going to fall apart. This gave me but a moment's doubt as to whether or not I was actually safe. To see Ottawa so small and far below me gave me a feeling that I couldn't begin to describe. I sipped at my complimentary orange juice (which, incidentally, is the same orange juice that is served in just about every hospital I've been in) and tried to imagine what was to come. What was in store for me in Toronto? On my next flight? In Korea? I had to shake myself from thinking too much about the future and not taking in the present as it was happening.

I peered out the window to see that daylight was fading and thought to myself "How many times in my life will I be able to experience a sunset from high above the clouds? A handful, if I'm lucky"... so I spent most of my first flight looking out the window trying to take in every ray of that elusive light as it disappeared into the beginning of what I would later describe as "The Long Night."

"The Long Night" overtook me not long before the plane reached Toronto. As we approached the city, I was enthralled by the lights below. With every previous visit, I would marvel at how big everything was in Toronto... now here it was, spread out before me and tiny. I thought to myself, this would be one of the first of many new perceptions of home I would gain on this journey.

Pearson International Airport, or "Canada's Gateway to the World", crushed any feelings that Toronto was anything but a huge monster of a city. The airport itself has multiple terminals, and it took me longer than I'd like to admit to find out I was in the wrong one to find my departure gate. With some wandering and a little help from some strangers, I found myself on a bus - and later - at terminal 3 where upon entry was OBVIOUSLY the right place to be. Korean Airlines was right by the entrance and the place was full of Korean people. I almost felt as though I had already reached my final destination.

It was here that I got my first glimpse of "them" and I wish I had my camera ready. There was a small army of "them" passing through the crowd and turning heads. [More on "them" later. - ed.]

Before too long I was passing through my second security check of my trip and trying to explain the various shapes in my pack as seen on an X-Ray screen to a polite, but stern Indian man. I quickly made the rounds of the image describing cables, sunglasses, etc. when it came to a mystery "square" on the screen.

"What's this?" he inquired. "uh... I.. umm.. I don't know? I mean! No, it's gotta be something I packed!" was my nervous reply. "May I reach in and check?" I continued. He allowed me this privilege and I laughed as I reached the bottom of the bag. "What is it?" he went on to ask again. "A SLINKY!" I exclaimed, as I removed it from the bag, playfully tossing it back and forth between my hands. He joined me in a laugh and I resisted the urge to make a joke about slinky-toting terrorists. Wishing me safe travels, he sent me on my way.

With my spirits recharged, I went to the duty free shop to purchase a few last minute provisions and went on to take my seat by the flight gate...
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