The airplane thundered through the clouds, touching down on what appeared to be an impossibly tiny runway. Certainly not the network of runways akin to the sprawling airports I had just left behind: Vienna, London, Toronto. But then this Northern Ontario town could hardly be compared to bustling cosmopolitan centers. Cosmopolitan. That's what I had wanted to be, had dreamt of becoming, for as long as I could remember. At first opportunity, I left home, resolving to never look back, abandoning ordinary small-town life and the sleepy countryside for extraordinary urban life, lured to the bright lights by the quixotic promise of glamour.
It took awhile, but gradually I came to sample the true substance of what lay behind the enticement of glamour, the hypnotic appeal of the bright lights. Oh, I had skipped across the extraordinary stones, the last of which had seen me go to Vienna on a much sought-after posting. And education, coupled with bursting bravado, had nurtured an easy confidence in me, a confidence and style that many people envied. Yet together with the confidence and style, my quest for the cosmopolite introduced me to betrayal and falsehood. To interchangeable values and ethics. My clear, simplistic outlook on life slowly and sinuously eroded: I can't recall when or how it started but bitterness and cynicism eventually tainted many ideals and emotions. A subtle transformation. Several years would pass before I could sit back and assess the superficiality around me and within me, before glamour would reveal itself for the impostor that it could so frequently be.
Now I was leaving Vienna and Europe behind, to return to a small, non-descript cluster of villages, strung out in desolate random along the Trans-Canada Highway. The doors of the airplane swung open. I strained to catch sight of my parents and saw them amid the small crowd, eyes anxiously scanning the deplaning passengers. "They look frail, frail and oddly vulnerable." I read unmistakable pride on their faces as I went to them, "our daughter," they were silently shouting to the bystanders, "look at her!" My uncooperative body trembled as I moved into my parents' arms, tears threatened - the scalding heat brought an unexpected flood of warmth to an icy, deadened spirit. "I've been away too long," I admitted as we collected my assortment of luggage and walked to the car, "where and when did I forget what coming home is all about?"