I certainly won’t stop anyone from visiting. Subtlety was never my strong suit.

It looks like my hopes of New Zealand/Aussie chums visiting me here in Toronto are doomed. I was both flabbergasted and overjoyed when I saw this deal pop up upon my screen. $968 Canadian is an insane price for return between Toronto and Auckland. It’s usually double that, easy. I succumbed to instant dreams of a Toronto summer spent catching up with friends and loved ones. I had a good friend on the hook, 90% certain she was gonna book. Our plan was fantastic: Being a stand up comedian, she’d come over to Toronto for JFL42 in September. She’d crash in our spare room and spend the evenings seeing as much comedy as her body fibres could reasonably handle. She’d get to tour Toronto sampling all the gloriously gluttonous North American delicacies she could find. She’d finally get to meet my girlfriend in person. We’d hang out, catch up and share the kind of reunion only close physical proximity can create. Everything coming up Milhouse. THRILLHOUSE even.

Then those dreams were dashed. As anyone who can read could ascertain, the deal only works if Auckland is the destination. Bummertown, population: Leon.

My mum chimed in. Why not come back home? Take a quick trip down under during August or September? I thought about it. I could bring my girlfriend and finally show her where I grew up. The neighbourhood where I spent my formative years. We’d have meals overlooking the Harbour Bridge. Good wine, incomparable cheese and chocolate (sorry Canada). Small local bakeries. Great cafés where flat whites reign supreme and drip coffee is only a bad memory. Roast leg of lamb with mint sauce. Watch clever advertising on TV. We could see old friends, get her acquainted with the people who helped form who I’ve become. Meet family old and new (we’ve had a few additions in the past three years). Perhaps even tour New Zealand a little, seeing the pastoral countryside. Sheep and cows littering the green expanse. Small towns and local pubs. Panoramic views and amazing beaches. White water and black water rafting. Water everywhere. Mum’s idea had merit. I could act quick and get an unbelievable deal for an experience of a lifetime. You only get to return home for the first time once. I thought about it and worked out the logistics.

Then I said no.

See, we’re already coming back to New Zealand, but we’re doing it in January. What could be better than escaping a dark, gloomy Toronto winter for the summery paradise of the southern hemisphere? A close friend is getting married. Another close friend is turning 30. Hell, I’m turning 30. We’re gonna leave just after New Years, have a day to shake jet lag and think about what to wear to the wedding, then get launched into everything. Friends currently in Aussie will no doubt be coming over for the wedding in any case. Here’s hoping we can convince people to take a little longer and spend some time holed up at a batch somewhere. Or pile into cars and drive down country, showing what the nation has to offer outside of Auckland’s generic metropolitan backdrop. There’s still so much of NZ I haven’t explored and I finally have a partner I want to share it with.

I don’t know why I’ve been coy about announcing it, but I guess that’s done for now. I’m coming back. Mark your calendars, peeps. It’s gonna be a whirlwind three weeks.

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