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Of my darling husband’s quirks, this has to be my favourite: We’ll be visiting some exotic, or even not-so-exotic, destination and at some part of the trip I know he will declare, “I could totally live here!”
With the strength of 10 elephants and years of practice, I refrain from rolling my eyes. Instead, I look lovingly at him as if he is saying it for the very first time and I ask: “Really, darling? Why is that?”
Of course the answers vary. Sometimes his love of jazz will have coloured his emotions: After a night out in some cool spot listening to a jazz ensemble he’ll be ready to pack his bags and change postal codes.
Our perspectives differ a bit on such things. Scott has always lived in Toronto and does not travel as often as he would like. I grew up in Jamaica, live in Toronto and travel extensively for my job as a flight attendant.
After numerous days away, I am always happy to embrace the familiarity of home. I could never entertain the thought of living anywhere else. In Toronto, we have four sets of dear friends within popping-in distance. (My husband concedes that in a perfect world he’d be surrounded by his friends in his location of choice.)
Our first trip together was to Halifax. We stayed at a cozy bed and breakfast and ate copious amounts of fresh seafood. After a particularly delicious lobster dinner in a restaurant overlooking the water, my husband declared he was ready to pack up and move house.
In Ottawa for the Grey Cup, it happened after our visit to the Byward Market.
In Hawaii, it was after playing 18 holes on a glorious course on Oahu’s North Shore.
In Vancouver, it took a stroll on the beach in White Rock in temperate March weather to capture his fickle attention.
In San Diego, it happened as we took in the Fourth of July fireworks sipping clam chowder to keep us warm.
He fell in love with Jamaica after a home-cooked meal of codfish fritters in my sister’s kitchen, followed by a perfectly ripe papaya picked from a tree just outside her back door. As we ate, a hummingbird flitted in and out of the open window and I saw the all-too-familiar look in my husband’s eyes. It was tough talking him out of it that time, as part of my heart still yearns for my childhood home.
After a lovely weekend in Muskoka, Scott actually arranged for a friend who is a real-estate agent to give us a tour of a cottage that was on sale. It was only my not-so-gentle reminder that it would take him three hours to get to work every day that swayed him.
Trips to Orlando and New York, though enjoyable, didn’t speak to his sensibilities, and so his familiar refrain was not to be heard. I was spared the task of being the voice of reason.
Our last trip, just this past month, was to London. It was a short visit, and a little impromptu, to celebrate our anniversary.
We packed a lot into those four days: double-decker bus tours, theatre in Leicester Square, numerous pubs and quaint little bistros were visited at a feverish pace. We navigated the transit system with ease and asked directions of friendly strangers when required.
I noticed my husband was dressing a little bit differently than he does at home. He wore his usual tweed cap, but added an old long raincoat of his dad’s to his ensemble. I thought he may have been watching too many British TV mystery series, as he did bear a little resemblance to a police inspector covering a case. He was in his element at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, posing with Sherlock’s cap and pipe.
Strangely, after three days in one of my favourite cities he still had not expressed his desire to pack up house and move to London. I was beginning to think I didn’t know him nearly as well as I’d thought after our 13 years together.
On the day before we left, I woke him up early. It was a bright, crisp day. The 6 C temperature felt positively balmy after the bone-chilling temperatures we had left behind in Toronto.
We walked along the canal to Camden Town and had a full English breakfast at a local pub. We navigated the twists and turns of the Camden Market, enjoying the assault on our various senses: the smells of spices and old books, the sounds of music by the Beatles and Rolling Stones emanating from record stores.
We stood on a bridge looking down at colourful houseboats and Camden Lock. And then, finally, there it was: “I could definitely see us living here!” he announced.
I gave him my usual speech about the grass being greener, the difference between visiting somewhere and living somewhere, blah, blah, blah. And of course I also pointed out that he’s said the same thing about almost everywhere we have been on vacation.
We walked back to our hotel hand in hand, admiring some of the grand homes that border the river. First one and then another person stopped to ask us for directions. My husband looked at me proudly as I answered with the knowledge I’ve gained from the numerous times I’ve visited the city.
“You know what?” I said. “I could totally live here!”
Patricia South lives in Toronto.