I arrived back in Richmond at 12:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. Toronto time) on Sept. 27.
Already, standing with the bleary-eyed crowd around the luggage carousel, the waves of nostalgia were hitting hard.
I knew that once I picked up my bags and returned home with my parents to my room and my textbooks, it would feel like I had never left.
And I didn't want to forget. I didn't want to forget Carlton Street, the Rehearsal Factory or Metalworks Studios.
I didn't want to forget the sight of Jason "Cone" McCaslin tapping out the ghost of a rhythm, listening attentively to a song nobody else could hear; or how Darcy Ataman would answer his 101 emails while juggling 101 other things; or Kevin Dietz sitting behind the recording console in the Nerve Control Room, turning dials, pushing buttons and typing short cuts like he was the captain of some space vessel.
I didn't want to forget how it felt to sit at a grand piano in the dark, blind save for the light of the candles, singing Tired Heart like my life depended on it.
We managed to record four songs while I was there, three of the originals I had written before I got to Toronto, and the last was a joint effort between Simon Ward from the Strumbellas, Cone and I. Two other members from the Strumbellas made contributions
to the recordings: Jeremy Drury came out to play the drums, and Isabel Ritchie added some violin and viola layers.
Kristian Montano, a talented 25-year-old musician from Toronto played guitar.
On a side note, Kristian's band, Sun K, will be recording an album with Cone in the next few months, and it will be worth looking out for.
We rehearsed for the first three days of the trip, and then spent the rest of the week in the recording studio - testing drums, testing mic set ups, playing guitar and ukulele, violin and voice.
And then doing it over and over again.
Record. Playback. Cut. Split. Punch in.
"Okay, take it from the top."
The days were long, but rewarding.
Each day we had something to show for our efforts - a small step closer, a few more ticks on the "to-do" list.
When I left that Thursday evening, we had the roughs, they still needed to be mixed and mastered.
There is a strategic game plan forming on how best to release these four songs.
Contrary to what I initially thought, these songs will not merely be special features on my YouTube channel.
No dates or specifics have been released yet, but Darcy and Cone have assured me that something will happen, they have a bigger picture in mind.
It's going to take a lot of hard work, and commitment, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before.
Because, as frightening as it sounds, I feel like I've discovered where I belong.
A place where the hours alone in my room, the callused fingers, the lack of sleep, and the eternities of writer's block take on a unique value and meaning.
Obviously, I need to remain cautious, grounded and guarded - prepared with a "plan B."
But there is small hopeful chance that this trip may not be the absolute end of the journey.
This trip may have opened a door to opportunities, and I am determined to step through.
Anna Toth is a student at UBC, and a YouTube musician @musicdoodles from Richmond.
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