“Why would anyone leave Cape Breton?”
My ninth grade English teacher tilted his head and starred at me. In his hand, he held the books I would need to continue my studies while my family and I went on a voyage to the Caribbean on our 35-foot sailboat.
I didn’t know how to respond to him. The sailing trip was my parents’ idea, so it wasn’t like I had much say in whether we left or not.
I don’t remember how I responded, but he did hand over the books and my family and I sailed away from Cape Breton.
Why wouldn’t we leave Cape Breton? As much as it was hard to leave school behind (I was a weird kid and liked school), I wanted to go.
I grew up in a family where, even if we didn’t travel much in the sense of going to foreign countries (until we went sailing), we were always going somewhere. Every weekend we went hiking or cross country skiing. Later, when Dad became passionate about sailing, we would go on sailing trips. This culminated in our voyage to the Caribbean. We sold our house, car and everything that wouldn’t fit onto a 35-foot sailboat and took off for almost two years.
I love to travel because I must know what is around the corner, beyond the crest of the hill, on the other side of the water. I need to know.
I’m not satisfied to always be in the same place. I’ve lived in Toronto for over 20 years now and I’m feeling the urge to move away. Move on. I’ve been here too long. At least, I’ve moved to several radically different neighbourhoods and each time Toronto has felt like a different place. Toronto is a constantly evolving city. I’ve seen major landmarks, such as the Sam the Record Man store, with its giant pulsing neon records go dark and get demolished. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed far too many bland glass and steel condo towers sprout like weeds. Never a pretty or elegant city, Toronto becomes more and more soulless as the years go by.
I travel because I want to be challenged. I want to try new experiences and meet interesting people. I want to see the wonders of the world first hand and I want to capture those experiences in words and images.
I have a friend who goes to the same two or three places every year. He does the same things and even stays in the same hotels each time. Clearly, he likes it that way. It’s safe and comfortable. That’s fine, but that just isn’t for me.
Since hitting my 40s, I’ve become acutely aware that I only get one spin around the sun. I don’t believe in heaven, an after life or reincarnation, so this is it. I must make it count. That is why I’ve taken the leap into travel writing, journalism and photography. I’m scared shitless, but I’m doing it anyway.
Today, I would respond to my English teacher by saying, “I’m leaving Cape Breton because I can. Because I want to dive into life. I want to be challenged, moved and open up to all that this world has to offer.”
For the record, I haven’t returned to Cape Breton. My journey hasn’t brought me back, yet.