Peace, love and lumberjacks

Trip Start Jul 17, 2014
Trip End Aug 06, 2014

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, August 4, 2014

We've come to the end, my friends.

I feel that honest, contended kind of exhausted. The kind you get after swimming. Or after lying in the sun all day.

That’s partly because I’ve been lying on Jericho beach all day. But partly because this trip has been exactly what I needed.

I’ve spent a fair chunk of the last three weeks doing admin to wrap up my Canadian life, and ticking things off my ultimate Vancity bucket list. But in the end that’s not what this trip’s ended up being about, is it?

When you’re having a really crappy time of it, when someone’s treated you really badly, there are two lovely things about travel that operate as a kind of salve.

The first is the sense of achievement that comes from getting something done in an unfamiliar place. Or when something goes wrong. It helps quiet that inner voice of yours that says you’re incapable. Weak. Stupid.

The second is the people. For the least three weeks I’ve been in the company of people who’ve happily given me their time. To hang, celebrate, explore. It’s a nice reminder that there are things about me worth knowing. Worth liking. I’m worth the effort – at least they believe so. With these fine people my last three days in Canada became a heady, dizzy blur. It was the BC day long weekend. It was pride weekend. We sucked every drop of life out of those last days like summer was ending and never, ever coming back.

Maybe part of us recognised how fleeting our time was. We’re all in similar situations – we came to Vancouver with our own hopes, dreams, expectations… but none of us are 'home’. We’re transient. Displaced. Feeling torn between places. Between experiences. Between lives.

I’d returned to visit but many of the faces I loved in Vancouver had already moved on. Some of the people around me were leaving Canada in the months to come. We’d probably never get the chance to sit on this beach all together again, enjoy beers in the sun like this again, stay up all night talking like this again. We had to make the most of it.

So what did we get up to?

Well, Saturday I finally made it back up Grouse, this time on a clear day, for the stellar views, the orphaned grizzlies and the lumberjacks. Oh, the lumberjacks. I feel this part of the day is best expressed pictorially:

Holy hotness. Leaving the mountain and feeling a little like I needed confession, I headed for the most obvious place. St Augustine’s for beers! Repint your sins, young Aussie! Jess, Ros, Jones and V-Babs joined me for some beer, food and cheer before we headed off to English Bay for the celebration of light.

The celebration of light is a yearly fireworks competition held over three weeks between three countries. This year it’s the USA, Japan and France – Saturday night was Japan. We found it surprisingly easy to get a last minute front row seat on the sand for the fireworks – later realising they were probably free for a reason as the tide slowly rolled in.

We managed to escape wet arses for the duration though – instead wetting our whistles at a Denman street bar afterward. Solving the world’s big problems one cocktail at a time. "Would sex still be enjoyable if you had an exoskeleton?"

The following morning was the Pride parade and I trotted down to Davie street to meet the girls. We spent a delicious day in the sunshine – swept up in the madness, the crowd, the colour, the noise.

Vancouver Pride is one of the biggest in North America and it’s estimated over half a million people crammed into the West End to celebrate on Sunday. All day the city was alive. Electric. I shared my skytrain ride with a unicorn. Fairies, mermaids and brightly coloured all sorts lined the streets, the trains, the beach. The energy was palpable.

The thing I enjoy most about Pride is the message about being proud of every part of you. Unashamed. You felt the need to push me away? F*ck you! I’m fabulous. Sunday was a day to celebrate all that you are. And celebrate we did – from the parade, to Serena’s rooftop, to a waterfront dinner, and weirdly to a gaelic football event.

I crawled into that night happy, exhausted and a little sad ahead of my last day in Vancouver.

My flight was very late evening on the Monday (ended up post-midnight) so I had the whole day to explore before I left. Luckily it was BC day, so everyone was off work!!

V-Babs, Ros and Jones joined me for the last thing on my Vancity bucket list – cycling the Stanley Park seawall. The seawall makes a 10km loop around the park, taking you through park, beaches and with stellar ocean and city views throughout. It’s another example of Vancouverites weird hate of turning around though. Like the Grouse Grind. You can only cycle the seawall one way. DON’T TURN AROUND. (Ok, ok… safety safety, I get it…)

We pedalled along for about an hour, touristed, ate popsicles in the sunshine, bullied Jones… before she drove us all down to Jericho Beach, collecting Trish and Champ-tie, where we baked the afternoon away before a lazy pub dinner on the roof of Darby’s.

I had to race now though, to make it to the airport. Trish had kindly let me store my stuff at hers down the road and also let me rinse the beach off before I set off. A flurry of hugs and goodbyes followed and I was semi glad for being rushed so I didn’t get too sad. Off we went, and I made it well in time where I sat, waiting for my flight, with this contented, exhausted, sun drenched feeling.

I don’t want to say something cheesy like I found myself again this trip. Or that I got my groove back. (OK, part of me really really does)… But I do know what I want. I know what I need. I know what I deserve. The people in my life the last three weeks have reminded me.

Spurred on by the ever persuasive Ros, I seriously considered just laying on Jericho Beach a while longer. Missing my flight. My visa’s still valid after all. Stay. Escape the things, the people I don’t care to come home to. Increase that space.

But I’m ready for the next thing now. The next of life’s big swings. Besides, in the words of the immortal VM – “What fighter gets to leave the ring and still say that they won?”

I’m ready. Are you?

Love always,

Your B. xx
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