Hiro Takeda2020/09/22

Familiar, Yet Unfamiliar

The faint sound of a child mumbling while dropping a wooden stick is accompanied by the voice of a familiar woman. The chair underneath me is firm and tough, made of leather. The grey light from the clouds outside creeps into the living room, and the white walls soften the shadows that the plants and blinds produce. Sleek and Nordic, my Canadian mind finds a difficult time understanding and appreciating the seemingly simple, yet intentional elegant design of this European living room. The refrigerator gives a low, continuous hum. Though quiet, I can feel the hum in the depths of my head, pressing up against my skull.

(a street in the old town of tallinn

My legs and back are not used to the space I have. Two months of living in a van have changed my posture. I feel almost agoraphobic. But I can sense in my groggy bones that the surroundings are not the main contributors to my unsettled gut. This place is familiar. I’ve been here before. But the previous time was a clearly defined finite period. 


My mind is torn between two ideas. One is that I have embarked on a great new adventure in which the world of possibilities are endless, and the exploration of a brand new world is imminent. The other is that I am merely an accompaniment, that this choice was made with the best interest of another. But the choice has been made. For better or for worse, the Baltic Sea is nearby, and the majority of the structures in the old town were built hundreds of years before Canada was declared a country. 

(buildings in the kalamaja neighbourhood of tallinn)

My hosts have made extra effort to provide comfort. I realize that all feelings of uneasiness come from within. The neglected list of tasks at hand has reared its ugly head, and it’s time to start checking them off. 


Find a job. Look at places to rent. Get an International Driver’s License. 


This new life comes with adjustments. New names of streets written with different letters. New neighborhood with neighbors who have no connection with you. 


Sometimes it makes me want to run. 


But as the visa application gets processed and I learn how the bus system works, things start to thaw in my mind. 


I’ve been in this situation before, and it didn’t take long to acclimate. It’s always scary in the beginning, but similarities and familiarity will inevitably replace differences. 


Over time, the unfamiliar will become normal. I look forward to the day when this will be yet another place that I call home. Estonia will be another familiar place.

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