You walk past Coburg Coffee House and notice that the usual mound of fluffy white has been reduced to a mere icy mess. You continue down Coburg and Spring Garden, only to see people out in the street – the city now awash with vibrant colour and sound. Is this what the warmer seasons are like in Halifax? Four degrees Celsius has never felt so glorious.
This excitement is short lived, however. And whilst the inviting streets are awash with sound and colour, you and your peers are inside studying. The first exam, not too bad. The second, pretty good – it’s the third and final that you’re a little worried about.
You take a study break and head down Coburg, Spring Garden and end up at Barrington. You’re on the waterfront, looking out to Dartmouth and the ocean beyond. A light breeze reminds you that winter isn’t quite finished, but you don’t mind.
You feel your phone vibrate and take it out of your pocket half expecting the Howe Hall group chat to be discussing plans of where you’re going out tonight.
No. It’s an email from Air Canada inviting you to check-in for your flight back home.
Walking back with a sense of melancholy, the sun begins to set over Spring Garden and you don’t want to admit it, but it’s quite possibly the last time you’ll ever walk down this road. You don’t think about it much – there’s too much study to be done.
You put your pen down and feel the cramp in your hand begin to subside. Looking around, you see hundreds of other students that think nothing of this moment as they’ll be returning next semester. ‘Have a good summer!’ exclaims one of the tutors to you on your way out, unknowing that you’ll not be experiencing summer for another six months at least.
Packing isn’t as sad as it is stressful. The number of items you collect and begrudgingly throw out, donate or squeeze into an already overweight suitcase never ceases to amaze. You simultaneously regret and enjoy the realisation that your flight out of the country is only 12 hours after finishing your final exam.
A beautiful friend whom you’ve gotten to know well picks you up at Howe Hall at 12.00pm sharp. Formalities are concluded and your key is handed in to the front desk of the residence hall that was your home for the previous five months. You feel naked without a bright yellow Dal lanyard at your side.
Check-in at the Air Canada desk is not unlike any other, the airport abuzz with students heading home for the summer. You say a heartfelt goodbye to your friend who dropped you off, proceed through security and begin the walk to your gate.
It’s just now. Now is when it hits you. Looking through the glass facade of the airport down to the arrivals area, you see a giant billboard that reads “Welcome Home to Halifax (even if you’ve never been here before)”.
It hasn’t evoked much feeling over the previous six times you’ve passed right below it on your return from weekends in the United States, but it’s this beautifully Canadian sign that pushes you over the edge. You sit there quietly holding back tears as to not inflict your incomprehensible feelings upon other travellers.
You’re back in Canberra. Everyone is walking around in North Face, Macpac and Kathmandu attire. It’s positive 14 degrees Celsius. What?
You soon assume a sleep pattern that resembles something remotely socially acceptable. Unpacked and back at your job, you wonder if the previous five months happened or if they were just an exceedingly vivid dream – albeit the best you’ve ever had.