Thursday, March 31, 2005

Rambling, Unwieldy Vancouver Post

Since many a-blogger is currently in ethereally gorgeous Vancouver, British Columbia, perhaps enjoying a 4-inch high rice krispy treat at the Bread Garden, I thought I might blog about Vancouver. I lived there circa 1990 for a year or so, in joyous sin with the man I now so affectionately refer to as 'the spousal unit.' Strange existence, we had. For one thing, we didn't pay for anything. Our smashing little penthouse apartment in the sky-ay-ay-ay one block off Robson, the car, the this, the that were all taken care of by the SU's employer. Also...I wasn't allowed to work. There existed an interesting Canadian employment law which stated that any job must be given to a Canadian unless it could be proven to require special skills not possessed by any Canadian. Which, now that I think about it, probably explains why a single tomato could occasionally cost $1.50. Anyways, this lack of employment left plenty of time to learn how to cook, which I did not yet know how to do; get a tan; write my first real stories since college; read; and futz with my hair which I kept in its natural state of long waviness.

The truth is that Vancouver is where I learned to be comfortably alone. With the then-boyfriend off working devilishly hard—sometimes on the other side of the country in Alberta or wherever—and me not knowing a soul, I was often by myself. I came to the conclusion that Canada, or at least Vancouver, was like San Francisco, but tilted on its side and shaken up. There were no Black people, for example. The entire time we lived there, I saw maybe five Black people. And very few Asians, though there were rumors (veiled in a certain amount of racism) of this changing drastically once Hong Kong switched hands. Nobody in Vancouver gave a rip about basketball. They were only allowed to play music on which the majority (I think this is right) of musicians were Canadian. This meant having to listen to quite a bit of Bryan Adams, that chick who sang that "Black Velvet" song and, um, that's about it. Many of the stores were blatant rip-offs of American retailing (with the lawsuits to prove it). You'd see a store that looked just like Victoria's Secret, but that was called La Vie en Rose. Sooooo weird!

Well, this post is going nowhere because I am now in a state of reverie and am itching to find pictures of the time we spent there. I was snowed-on for the first time there. We got engaged there. We ate constantly at Bud's Fish 'n' Chips, still the best damn fish 'n' chips I ever had. We drove to Whistler. We sat on the beach at English Bay to watch the fireworks competition one year. We often took the ferry to Victoria. We drove to Seattle more than once, re-crossing the border with American contraband (my first Mac!). We went to the movies. A lot. And to Granville Island, where there was a sweet little bookstore.


But the Vancouverians were mean to me once. We went on a bike ride around Stanley Park, we did. The bike path was clearly marked with arrows which we were clearly supposed to follow. But the spousal unit cares nothing—nothing!—for authority and is, after all, American and didn't feel that the arrows suited our particular American needs. And so we rode against the arrows. The SU rode in front of me and every few minutes I would ask if we could please just ride with the arrows, and every few minutes he would pooh-pooh me and the tortuous ride would continue. Why tortuous? Because Vancouverians were pelting me with verbal abuse, the specifics of which I have erased from my mind because of the trauma it caused. Because he was riding in front, all of this was lost on the SU. He'd get the initial annoyed look from the Vancouverians (he cares nothing—nothing!—for annoyed looks), but I got the inevitable smackdown.

Longest bike ride of my life.

But what a lovely year.

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