oh hello there!
some of you may have noticed (or, y’know, not, as the case may be) that jen’s den was offline for a few weeks. 30 gigs worth of spammy traffic to dead links meant i had to flip the switch for a bit. dunno how that happened, but hopefully it was an aberration.
i woke up this morning next to my husband, back in my own bed in london, jetlag hangover from hell piercing my brain. i’m still feeling very disoriented and fuzzy around the edges – a weird foggy miasma of being neither here not there.
vancouver was a mixed bag. frustratingly was unable to land a job of any sort – sponsoring a work visa is a dealbreaker for most employers, it seems, in spite of my 20 years experience in the field. however i was able to (hopefully) pave a pathway for getting a student visa. if all goes well, we may be able to move over in september – not an ideal scenario, but a means to an end.
as expected, vancouver was overwhelmingly *nice*. nice people, nice city. quiet, clean, efficient. even the riots that happened while i was there? watching it on telly, felt a bit like “riot lite”. a few cars set alight, smash-and-grab looting. opportunistic vandalism on a large scale, more than anything else. but nothing like the venomous, violent clashes that happened between the police and student protesters here in london. the vancouver riots were about frustration and mob mischief run amok. the london riots were about a passionate power struggle between stalwart ideological symbolism and the perceived oppression of the powerless underclasses. if you want any further evidence of the clear differentiation between the two riots, you need look no further than the collective community response and volunteerism that swept vancouver in the days immediately following, when residents by the thousands signed “apology walls”, did cleanups, and went to lengths to emphasise the rioters were “not real vancouverites”.
even in the face of mayhem and chaos, vancouver is unfailingly polite.
(aside: it also needs to be said that from what i saw, and from most reports, the vancouver police went to extraordinary lengths to avoid escalating interactions with the crowd – perhaps, ultimately, to the detriment of getting the situation under control. but they made it quite clear that they wanted first and foremost to allow the massive crowd of rubberneckers, or those just caught up in the situation, to disperse and go home, and gave them ample opportunity to do so before cracking down harder. a refreshing change from the heavy-handed kettling tactics london police resort to by default these days.)
and so my 3 months in vancouver was very pleasant. and “pleasant” may not get the heart racing wildly, but there’s a helluva lot to recommend it. i found myself fantasizing about bicycling around, and having a dog that i can take to the park, and having a little car for weekend camping getaways, and growing tomatoes in a garden. there’s never going to be the edgy excitement of discovering a new underground music scene, or avant-garde experimental art exhibit, or pop-up supper club. but really? i’ve had a combined 16 years of access to those sorts of things in nyc and london, and how often did i ever avail myself of them? almost never. instead, what i find myself wistfully wishing for is a sunny summer saturday when my opportunity for communing with nature is not limited to a postage stamp-sized common heaving with people, a sunday when i don’t have to step over piles of vomit on the pavement, or a monday when i don’t have to endure a commute akin to medieval torture. and these, vancouver has in abundance.
i’ve been trying to think objectively about the downsides to vancouver, and the best i can come up with is this:
– too much pot smoking (seriously too much – and i say that as a proponent of legalisation. i really don’t want a contact high every time i’m in an open-air public place.)
– open container laws and no alcohol sales on sunday. pouring white wine into a tupperware sippy cup so i could drink it in the park made me feel like a 16 year old. boooo!
– too many homeless people. my canadian friend tells me they migrate from elsewhere in canada because of the relatively mild vancouver climate, but i never saw this many homeless, even in new york. it’s (in a general humanitarian sense) terribly sad, and (in a selfish urbanite sense) annoying.
– rain. rains more than london(!), but gets 300 extra hours of sun (!) to balance it out. that’s an extra 5 weeks of daytime sun.
and even with all this pleasantness, i found myself missing london something awful. in fact, missing *britishness* with a fierce ache. missing that bit of myself that so quickly started slipping away once transplanted to another environs.
but that’s a topic for another post.