Today marks the start to the second week of my new life in Salzburg, Austria. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement, overwhelm, culture shock, getting reaquainted with my fiance, being worked up about my dog, and decompressing after a rough trip out here.
I’m going to be real with you. I have only started to feel myself this past few hours – which inspired me to write my first blog from my new home base. I’ve realized that even though this free spirited gypsy soul likes to be out of my element – routine is so very important for me to feel like myself. Routine in the way of a morning ritual, eating right, moving my body whether that be dance, yoga or a solid weighted plyometric session.
Let’s rewind. For those that have been wondering how the entire trip went…here she goes!
Early Tuesday morning, May 1st, at 1:30 am, which was exactly 1 year later to the hour that the trauma in Dominican was happening, I said goodbye to my Mom as I rolled out of their garage. My Dad and my best friend of 7 years, Dylan, drove the 3 hours with me and Lyla up to the airport. I was running on no sleep and I was worried sick about putting my high anxiety senior dog through the journey.
We stopped in Strathmore so that I could take Lyla for a quick walk and feed her her food and anxiety pills. The full moon cast her milky healing energy over me. I had a conversation with her, thanking her for all of her help in my healing journey this past year with PTSD and asking her for help to support me and Lyla through the move. I got back into the SUV and drove the last hour. As the airport approached, I choked back tears. This is it. I’m going to say goodbye to my Dad in a few minutes. I’m going to say goodbye to my best friend in a few minutes.
We took Lyla out of the vehicle and I kissed her goodbye letting her know that I will see her on the other side. I cried, worried sick about her. Dylan pulled me back from her because he knew I was starting to lose control and he hugged me as we both said our goodbyes to each other. As hard as it was for him to see me go, he knew I was going to where I am meant to be.
Dad helped me take my 3 bags in with Lyla on a luggage crate. Our trip started with a grumpy airport check in clerk saying to us, “Well I don’t want to help you but looks like I’m going to have to anyways. Come here.” Just what you want to hear at 5 am when you feel like you’ve just been punched in the gut with all of the emotional goodbyes. Over $1000 spent later on baggage fees and pet handling fees, Lyla went down the belt into the airport abyss. This is it. Time to say goodbye to my Dad.
Dad. The man that watched me go through the hell when I was struggling with a drug addiction and an abusive relationship. The man that watched me over come that and find my way. The man that then watched for the past 2 years as I tried to legally separate myself from a narcissist. He held me as I had meltdowns every time the games played got more and more fucked up. The man that I had to talk off the ledge a few times from losing his shit on that person. The man that held me as I told him what had happened to his little girl in Dominican. The man that supported me time and time again when I just couldn’t find my way through the darkness of PTSD. The man that gave my fiance permission to take my hand. The man that will be walking me down the aisle next year, the ocean behind us, my Irishman in front of us. The man that no matter what, was so damn proud of me.
I cried and cried as I held him saying goodbye. He cracked a few jokes and he held it together. He knows where I am meant to be is halfway across the world with my fiance. He stood behind me 100% with this decision from day 1, right until the last moment we shared in the airport.
I had to turn away and get myself through the airport to security otherwise it was going to keep getting harder. I wiped tears that were streaming down my face and told myself that this is just the beginning. The hard part of saying goodbye is now over.
I sat in the Chili’s at the airport and ordered myself a Caesar. For those that don’t know, it’s a Canadian drink and you can’t get it anywhere else. Caesar’s are my favourite. My best friend Payton introduced me to beer & clam and Caesar’s. It’s been a slippery clomato-ey slope since. I enjoyed the drink, saying cheers to my 1 year anniversary of the day that my life changed in Dominican. I have come so far with my healing journey. I have grown so much. Now’s the time to fully step into the fruits of my labour.
After a nerve wracking flight from Calgary to Toronto, worrying about how Lyla was making out in cargo, I made the mistake of watching the airport staff unload her off the plane. I was hoping I could see her through the metal gate of her kennel, just to know that she was moving and alive – you know because I’m kind of dramatic that way. Instead, I saw 2 staff members toss her in her kennel roughly onto the trailer of the trolley. WTF. She’s a dog with arthritis you could be more gentle! I then watched the trolley speed across the tarmac out of my sight, without her kennel being strapped down. If they took a turn too fast or if she shifted her weight dramatically, the kennel could have fallen off onto the tarmac. I’m normally a pretty chilled out person, until it comes to travelling with my dog apparently.
I ran through the airport to find someone that could help me. I demanded to see my dog to check on her well being, because I was not happy at all with how she was handled. The staff did not apologize, and they were not clear that me checking on her meant that I had to clear security and all of the paperwork with her again. Lyla rolled down the conveyor belt with a doofy smile on her face. She was pretty doped up on anxiety meds, but so happy to see me. Relief washed over me. I opened up her kennel and gave her a big hug even though she was soaked in her own pee.
I then learned that I had to get Lyla rechecked through security and get all of her paperwork approved again. Ahhh shit. Time’s going to be tight, I only had a couple of hours until boarding started on the next flight to Vienna. The paperwork approval process took longer than expected because there was an error in Calgary with Air Canada showing that Lyla’s handling fees had been paid so Austrian Airlines had to make calls back and forth with Air Canada to confirm that she had all been paid for. Once that got cleared, I hastily pushed Lyla on the trolley to over sized baggage to get her rechecked. This is where the meltdown started.
We were down to 45 minutes until boarding started, I hadn’t gotten Lyla checked in yet. The man at the oversize baggage claim needs some serious meditation in his life. He walked up to Lyla’s kennel and started tearing off all the Live Animal stickers and her baggage tag sticker off. He tossed them at me and then tossed tissue at me and told me to do better. “Pardon me?” I said. “Do better!” he aggressively said back. What in the actual fuck. I told him that Calgary had no problem with how the stickers were and that the Austrian Airlines rep was the one that applied the baggage tag sticker.
He wanted me to clean the area with the tissue and reapply the stickers – I to this day don’t know why. They were stuck on properly and by him tearing them off it made them less sticky. He then told me not to spill any of Lyla’s water when I was to lift the kennel by myself onto the weight scale. Keep in mind, Lyla’s a 65 pound dog. This is a huge ass kennel. The water in her dish was from the melted ice I had put in there for the Calgary flight. He wouldn’t help me lift the kennel, so yes I spilled about a cup of water on the floor.
He then yelled at me and told me to run to the bathroom to get paper towel to clean it up. Time is ticking, I’m freaking out that we are going to miss our flight, and I’m also extremely triggered in this airport. The last time I had stepped foot in Toronto Pearson was on my way back from Dominican. I bolted to the bathroom – a good 5 minute run there and back to get paper towel. Now I’m on my hands and knees, shaking, tears streaming down my face cleaning up the water. I got up and said to him, “I’m doing the best that I can. Now what?” He proceeds to shoo me away and says,”Go, get through security.” I asked, “Is she for sure going to be on that plane? Do we have time?!” and he said, “She has no where else to go other than the plane,” Great. Reassuring (sarcasm). I said goodbye to Lyla through her metal gate and I had to run, praying that Lyla would make it on the plane.
Toronto Pearson is huge. I had a hefty run to get myself to International security. 15 minutes to boarding. I hadn’t even cleared security yet and I heard my name on the loud speaker being called. Oh god.
I cleared security and run up to the gate to find out why they called me up.
“Ma’am, you don’t have a return ticket booked. We can’t let you on this plane unless if you have an exit ticket out of Austria.”
Anticipating this, just on the Vienna side not the Canadian side, I pulled out my phone to show them a flight to Ireland.
“This ticket saved you, Miss Enns,”
Golden. Let’s board.
9 hours sitting beside a geography University professor from Cyprus, many Netflix episodes of my favourite travel blog Departures, I have arrived in Vienna at 8:30 am their time – 12:30 am mine. I am now 23 hours into my journey and only have slept a couple of hours. I feel shaky, a bit nervous on the clearing of Lyla and myself at customs, and sick to my stomach from being so overtired.
Vienna airport was smooth sailing. All of the hassle with Lyla’s paperwork leading up to the actual flight made the process of clearing customs easy. It was a quick, “check for the Canadian red stamp,” and we’re good to go.
On the other side, my fiance picked us up with a van to start the 3 hour drive to Salzburg.
5 months apart with no contact other than Facetime and text was tough. He felt like a stranger when I kissed him. Now, there’s no more goodnight and good morning texts. Just kisses and cuddles.
My first couple of days here are a bit of a blur with catching up on sleep and being severely jet lagged. Lyla was really stiff and tired last week from the trek but she did extremely well when we took her out for walks being surrounded with so many people and lots of dogs. For those that don’t know, Lyla does have leash aggression towards other dogs. JP had scouted out a dog park for us which we took her down to last Friday. She did extremely well making new friends. Medicine Hat doesn’t have fenced in dog parks, and Lyla is a runner, so we never used them because like I said, she’s kind of a dick on leash with other dogs. Yesterday we cleared another hurdle by finding a pet sitter for our upcoming trips to Ireland and Croatia. Lyla’s a quirky girl – leaving her with just anyone isn’t an option. She is loving having so many walks throughout the day because we don’t have a backyard like we did in Canada, meaning every time she needs to do some business she gets a walk out of it.
For myself, I’ve been busy unpacking, organizing, and cleaning the apartment to make it more woman-fied and less bacheloresque. I’ve been working on getting a routine down with my morning ritual of meditation, journaling, clean eating, working out, reading and life coaching. We also had a wedding to go to and had a day trip to Vienna to get some paperwork in order for my move here.
I’ve been pretty disconnected from feeling myself, with being pretty emotionally charged last week it sometimes takes a bit to come down from all of that, especially after that level of trigger for me in Toronto Pearson. I am also not used to having so many people in my face all of the time. We live in the tourist part of Salzburg, right close to Mozart’s birth place. As soon as we step outside of our building there are swarms of people. As an empath, that’s been very overwhelming energetically. In Medicine Hat, we could walk for an hour without seeing a soul on our walking path. You could see how going from that to being smack dab in the middle of the tourist zone of the most visited cities in Europe would be overwhelming. Its different when you’re travelling, crowds are just part of it. When it’s your home space, it takes some adjusting.
Today though, there’s been a shift. As I was laying in pigeon pose on my yoga mat, my favourite busker covering one of my favourite songs on youtube playing through the apartment, my dog laying in the sunshine a few feet away, and my fiance having a sweet moment with her as they bonded even more, I felt a wave of emotion wash over me. A happy tear dropped from my eye onto my mat. This is where I wanted us to be. Me. Him. Lyla. All in one place. It’s here now. We dreamt of this day since the day we parted ways in Cuba.
I finally felt peaceful.
I last minute decided to take Lyla for a walk down to the dog park, a 20 minute walk each way. I had time to do it, I wasn’t rushing between calls and commitments, so I embraced my feminine energy and flowed through the walk. I took myself to go get a pretzel the size of my face, eating it while sitting in the sun as I watched Lyla frolic with a big pack of dogs.
I slowly wandered back to the apartment with my played out pooch. As soon as we got home it started to pour rain, but the sun was shining. I sat on the couch with my laptop beginning to start my work for the day, my fiance across the room on his, my favourite song playing, Lyla laying on the floor in between us, the sun pouring through the apartment as the sound of rain splashed off the roof. We had just had an exciting conversation about a future creative project we are going to be working on together.
Peace. Connected. Calm.
This is it.
This is the beginning of the rest of our lives.
It’s going to be so fucking beautiful. <3