Tag Archives: vancouver

dreaming of the edge of the world

Douglas Coupland wrote, in Shampoo Planet, that home is where you dream, that it’s part of your brain’s hard drive.  That we’re all hard wired for our dreams to be set at home.

I’m not terribly sure where I dream these days.  Many days my dreams do exactly what they should do, and parse through the mundane things that have happened to me each day.  Some days, they are pop culture references – TV, movies, books.  And then other days, I dream of my own home, of that corner of British Columbia I grew up in, took for granted and left.  I dream of Victoria.

With no close family left in BC, I’m unlikely to return, even for a vacation, because I know I’ll always prioritize the rest of the world over returning to that corner of it I know by heart.  And yet, every day, I think of random places and it catches my breath in sadness.  I’ll  be caught by a random memory of Oak Bay in summer, or I’ll look at a street in Manhattan and see the West End.  It is forever and ever part of my permanent memory, my own hard drive.

For the past year, since I said goodbye the last time, since I wept my way back across Canada on a red-eye flight back through Toronto last November, I have been trying to push back those memories and focus on my actual present in Brooklyn.  I love Brooklyn, after all – I love New York the way I loved Vancouver.  This is the most Vancouvery place I could have settled with my family, after all, with its hippie food co-ops, overpriced real estate, bike lanes and beaches.  New York City is ten times the size of Vancouver and yet I get it because I lived there.  And I chose to be here, and I work every day to stay here and I love it here.  And so, rather than focus on the past, I chose to push it away.  I thought that would be the smart thing to do.

The problem with the past is that it won’t be pushed away.  It’s been half a lifetime since I lived on the Island, a dozen years since I left Vancouver, and yet I still dream of home.  It’s taken me the last twenty years to realize that not everyone feels homesickness like I do, and not everyone has the emotional attachment that those of us born in the Pacific Northwest do to our homeland.  Maybe I should be celebrating that and shining that light into my own memories instead of drawing the curtain on them. Maybe I should choose to follow those memories for a few minutes each day – not enough to be lost in nostalgia, but enough to accept the sorrow and the joy that comes from spending the first twenty years of my life in a lost English colony on the edge of the world.

And so, I’ve chosen to spend a few minutes memorializing my own memories of Victoria.  The neighborhoods and streets are still there, and many are actually protected by heritage and building laws.  The Victoria in my memory is frozen in time between 1988 and 1998, in an era before the Internet had pictures, a time between when the natural resource industries crashed and the tech industry started, yet it doesn’t look much different than the city I said goodbye to in 2015.  There will never be skyscrapers in Victoria the way there are in Vancouver…but there will be condominium developments, and there will be growth, and there will be big changes yet to come.  When I remember places – a half-finished Songhees walkway, Vic West of abandoned industrial zones, an Oak Bay Marina with Sealand of the Pacific (yes, of Blackfish fame) – they are memories of places that no longer exist except in memory.

I have pushed back memory because I am afraid of homesickness, of the addiction of nostalgia and the past.  These are terrible temptations in stressful times.  I have questioned many times since I left the Island if my desire to go home was pure homesickness or just a longing to return to a time that was less complicated.  After all, wouldn’t everyone like to have the responsibilities of their nineteen year old self for a few days instead of the responsibilities of their thirty-eight year old adult self?  So it is with the fear of addiction that I risk reliving memories of British Columbia and choose to describe them.

So.  I remember Oak Bay, Victoria, the Island.  I remember Vancouver, the Lower Mainland.  I will allow myself to revisit the place I know by heart.  I will trust myself to accept the strange mix of loss and comfort that is growing up someplace that borders on the unreal in sheer beauty, and then having chosen to leave it, as every small-to-medium town kid does, to See the World.  After all, being able to call one single place home means that, as long as I live elsewhere, I am forever on a journey.

When I am self-pitying, that is when I tell myself I’m living in exile Off Island.

When I am hopeful, that is when I can see that journey as being a lifetime of adventure.

And living in Brooklyn, that is exactly the adventure I dreamed of as a teenager in Victoria. I do not need to convince myself of the sheer awesomeness of my present, I just need to come to terms with the contrast it has with my past.

 

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oh, twenty-five…

I’m not so old that I need guys to think they’re complimenting me by telling me I look younger. I’m not thirty.

*sigh*

(from 09/20/03)

On the flip side:

I’m going to go sing to myself a little song about how I only have to work in the bottom-feeding part of this industry for another ten to twelve months, and then I’m going to go get a real job. I want to go do online media buys for an advertising agency, not a marketing company. I want to accomplish branding through media buys, not just slap them wherever. I’ve always been really into marketing through effective brand management.
(from 09/23/03)

Oh, and a month after I posted that, the nice folks at Avenue A said this about me when they rejected me for a job:

“..a dynamic young lady with a real go getter personality who will go far in her career.”

Given that my ambition right now is to be one of their biggest threats on the West Coast, in terms of making whoever I’m working for a seriously competitive agency, I’d say that they had some insight there. Even at the risk of ego.

I should be writing a powerpoint towards that end.

thank you notes

First, let me say how sad I was that I didn’t have a chance to see more of you people in Vancouver. Especially since it was heeeraldo‘s birthday party on Saturday, and I was over on the Island that evening, and couldn’t make it. I told nafspeak to kiss them for me though. Because I’m just delayed – it may be for months, or years, but I always get back to Vancouver again.

However, I am very grateful to the people who took so much time and effort to make my trip that much easier and happier when I was there. dream_king picked me up at YVR, with his gorgeous baby daughter. His lovely wife, pester, was not feeling well enough to come out, which was a shame, but I was delighted to see Ziv and meet Ruth Khava. I especially appreciated that his first question to me, after “do you want to hold her?”, was, “how was that Hex event?” Ziv may have grown up and got married and had a baby, but I was very glad to see he was still interested in hearing about good old fashioned fetish/goth party events.

Ziv dropped me off with the always charming sharolyn – and her adorable, if less charming dog. We immediately proceeded to kill a bottle of chardonnay while catching up on the usual girl talk. I know I always have a place to sleep with Shar – provided she has space – which means a lot to me. She’s provided me with a lot of hospitality since I left Vancouver. We were up until three in the morning, chatting and laughing and bonding, as per usual.

I woke up the next morning with a white wine hangover, and sort of grunted at cracksmurf when I called him. Fortunately, Graham’s seen me hung over many times in the four and change years since we’ve been friends. College friends are great for having seen you at your worst! So he drove me, in his rented Yaris (which I insist on calling the “Y’ARRRRS!”) to Tim Hortons, so I could procure an all-Canadian lunch. We then proceeded to Kits Beach, where we sat on logs and caught up on our lives. Which ended when the Local Homeless Guy showed up, and proceeded to tell us about his horrible divorce, and about how his kids didn’t care about him, and then told Graham, “Never get married, man. BE A STALLION!” And then it was time to go.

Graham dropped me back downtown, where I met back up with Shar for tea and a snack before I had to catch a bus to Victoria. And that was it. Those were the people I got to see. I totally missed nafspeak, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing about half a dozen miscellaneous AUSketeers/SUSers/hacks, but I’ll be back someday. Probably Yankee Thanksgiving – next trip is via SeaTac, not YVR. But it was wonderful to see the people I could, and I loved spending time with you all, and thank you for the rides/hospitality. Anytime anyone wants to visit LA (shut the hell up, Graham, I KNOW you’re yelling “HELLHOLE” up there at the screen), y’all call me, y’hear?

missing the fair: year three

It’s 2am right now, and I’m drinking detox tea and working on various geek stuff because I can’t sleep. Which is rare for me. I did, however, fall asleep at 8:30pm, so that might have something to do with it. Therefore, I am listening to the entire Depeche Mode catalogue (all 485 tracks) on random and writing blog entries.

Since “Home” just came on, I shall write about just that. I received an email from ACF Backgate a few days ago, explaining the new alumni guest policy. Which only served to remind me of one thing:

I’m missing Arts County again this year.
a background on Arts County, for the post-UBC readership