Hiatus – Vacation from Vacation – Fin

The Return..

We took our time waking up. We dressed, and packed. Nothing opened until 10 anyway. We watched the market brush the sleep out of its eyes. We drank coffee, and ate french pastries. I gave a man my napkin, and the barista made sexy eyes at my Pops. We strolled thru the narrow alleys of Chinatown. We got tacos for lunch. Then headed to the dock to catch our ferry..

Mid afternoon ferry back across the boarder. Doesn’t feel like it’s been a full weekend, but somehow it has. The sun is shining, the water is calm, and today I see just how much I’ve missed. It’s a different sort of culture, for someplace so close to home. If I end up taking anything away from this trip, it is simply to learn to enjoy my time and not take it for granted. If the price we pay for being stressed out, is that ws are a less welcoming country, then it’s not worth hanging onto the stress. It doesn’t make you work any harder and it doesn’t bring you more reward. What a beautiful thing it was, to spend a whole weekend surrounded by smiling, friendly faces. And to be in the presence of complete strangers, who genuinely wish you the best. The simplest thing to pay forward, to genuinely wish someone well. How and when did my country become such a hateful, angry place? I blink my eye and it is gone like a dream, and we are home.

Hiatus – Vacation from Vacation – Fin

The Return..

Mid afternoon ferry back across the boarder. Doesn’t feel like it’s been a full weekend, but somehow it has. The sun is shining, the water is calm, and today I see just how much I’ve missed. It’s a different sort of culture, for someplace so close to home. If I end up taking anything away from this trip, it is simply to learn to enjoy my time and not take it for granted. If the price we pay for being stressed out, is that ws are a less welcoming country, then it’s not worth hanging onto the stress. It doesn’t make you work any harder and it doesn’t bring you more reward. What a beautiful thing it was, to spend a whole weekend surrounded by smiling, friendly faces. And to be in the presence of complete strangers, who genuinely wish you the best. The simplest thing to pay forward, to genuinely wish someone well. How and when did my country become such a hateful, angry place? I blink my eye and it is gone like a dream, and we are home.

Hiatus – Vacation from Vacation – Day 3

Some Sunny Sunday..

We park the car in the small lot the woman directed us to, and walk on blind faith down the street. The park seems obvious once you’re in it, but with every step it seemed to expand further out. It was initially empty, a field infront of an outdoor auditorium, and one family eating lunch. But then we saw the path, curling away and leading down, into the thicket. We follow it, breaching the line of trees, and immediately the zig-zagging path falls away below us. We follow, back and forth, and back and forth, down the wooded walkway. We are enclosed in greenery of all shades, 3 different types of trees, and 7 different types of bushes and ground plants. The occassional glimpse of our prize peeking between the branches. The lower we get, the stronger the smell of the sea, until at last, we break back thru the thicket, onto a known secret escape. Before us lays a wide, wooden boardwalk maybe half a mile long, across the edge of the water. Where sprinkled all along the way, down to the very end, are families, drinking beers, eating lunch, and crabbing.

We drove along the West coast of Vancouver Island, completing the wingspan of Victoria. The road was whindy, reminding me of driving Out the Road in Juneau, the teal blue of the ocean just thru a thin layer of trees to our left, but instead of tall mountainside to our right, we see large homes to our right, looking out over the road to the water.

We return from our adventure just before 5. Though it be a Sunday, I find myself frustrated by the town. Nothing opening before 10AM, and everything closing by 6PM. How does anyone get anything done? But then I started thinking, maybe that’s it. Maybe that is why the atmosphere is so different here in B.C. than in America. No one is stressed out, or angry, or rude. Everyone is so cheerful, and friendly, and so eager to just… chat with you. Maybe letting people sleep in and have time to drink coffee and eat breakfast before going to work alleviates some of the stress of the day. Maybe closing and letting people go home at 6, not worrying about people working too long or needing coverage past 8 hrs of work alleviates some of the anger people feel. In fact… in short, it actually seems genius. The only person I’ve seen running to the Starbucks, was the guy who was finishing his morning run. And the fact that it took almost 5 full minutes to then get our drinks after we’d ordered them, at first jarred me, Starbucks doesn’t make people wait… but then it just didn’t matter. The girls making our drinks were smiling and laughing the whole time. That’s what work should be about…

In the end, we found our English Pub. With its low, wooden ceilings, heavy wooden chairs, and friendly waitstaff. It wasn’t crowded, and two men in the front performed live music. The pub was doing a Sunday dinner special, but it was lovely Bangers and Mash, and a nice tall glass of Extra Special Bitter for us. A nice last night of our Vacation.

Hiatus – Vacation from Vacation – Day 2

I see now..

We rented a car, and after a satisfying breakfast, drove around a bit. There were a few markets scattered about. Upon parking the car we were overcome with the sombre tones of live market music. It felt like being home, the music filling the air, the smells of frying foods, and soaps, dogs, toddlers, craft. Something shiny catches my eye and we drift towards a booth. I hold the hand forged sickle in my hands. I want it, but I don’t dare. We wander some more before returning to the forged metals booth. Mom is buying a pair of earrings and I’m thrilled. The lone booth owner, quiet, humble, comes to assist. He finally looks up from the table and I am awestruck. His eyes are like honey in sunlight. I’ve seen that colour of eyes once before, and as before, I was left speechless. My hand closes around the sickle again, anything to get him to lay those eyes on me. But I let it go, and when mom’s purchase is complete, we move on.

We follow the edges of the coast, and I begin to think I finally see it. Those dashes of old English. I see it in the homes we drive past. They are an odd mixture of classic English and incredibly modern. One home with its white and black curving trim, the next all windows and right angles. And for a moment, as I fight fatigue, I am back in England, driving the harrowing streets to Nanny’s. Breath-taking homes hidden behind intimidating gates and solid fences, only catching a heart beat of a glimpse of them as you drive by.

But in truth, the whole place doesn’t feel too different from home. There are still kids selling lemonade on lawns, Saturday morning farmer’s markets, Starbucks on block corners… What feels different, is the atmosphere. People seem at ease. No one seems to be in a hurry, or weighed down with stress. No one seems angry. No profane graffiti covers the walls, no angry protests march up the streets. Even the homes seem to have room to breathe, rather than being stacked side by side by side. I, feel like I can breathe.

Maybe it isn’t the biggest city, or the most tourist attractive. Maybe I’m glamorizing the view. It is not somewhere I could live. I doubt it is somewhere you could live. Homes around here go for 700 grand upwards 1.5 million. Even restaurant prices are not humble. Granted, the current exchange rate between Canadian and U.S. is in our favor. It still makes my stomach turn to look down and order a $7-8 pint of beer, and a dinner entree for $20+.. I’ve never been good with math, and I admittedly hate numbers. Only pulling out my calculator will make me breathe a sigh of relief. Everything here just feels expensive. Maybe in some odd sense, you’re paying for the freedom from stress.

Hiatus 2.0 – Vacation from Vacation – Day 1

First Blood! …er First Beer!

We drove towards the ends of the Earth, caught a ferry, then kept on going. O’ Canada! I hadn’t been up to Canada in years, and admittedly felt a little nervous. What would it be like? Would I be judged for being an American? Would I fit right in as an Asian? Would I run into Nathan Fillion? But the suspicious customs agent shifted us thru quicky, and without a stamp…

I don’t know what to make of Victoria, B.C. as we walk up the main street to our hotel. We pass the typical tourist shops that sell the identical shirts at the same prices. We pass the untypical shops, the military antique shop where I hope to find a sword. My father reminds me I have no room in my suitcase for a sword. We saunter down the wee market street, and found a lone man selling home-made chain mail. I seemed to have caught his eye, rather than him mine. I stopped and he admired my subtly rude T-shirt. It wasn’t long before he had his phone out to snap a picture of it. Admiring my tattoo and piercing while at it, much to my mothers chagrin. I silently cheersed myself to being an International Head Turner.

We don’t find much in the shops on the drag. My father tries to feel the spirit of the Brits and we attempt to find him a woolen hat, but he scoffs at the prices. It’s not British enough here to warrant those prices. We head back down to the dockside stalls. Mother buys some icecream and father and I watch as a ridiculously small boat heads out for whale watching. The stalls sell handmade goods, jewlery, fabrics, wood work. I stop at a stall filled with box picture frames all filled with taxidermy bugs. The people hovering around all squirm at the sights, I lean in closer, wondering if the man has any larger spiders. He sells keychains of smaller bugs, and pendants of small animal skulls. I stare, longingly at the bird skull, but think of the joke. Wearing a bird skull around my neck, next to the cat tattoo.. 

Victoria boasts of Old English spirit, but I am failing to see it. Dinner is in a pub, though no pub like I’ve been in. It’s high ceilings and fancy chandeliers. We are seated in a booth facing the 3-4 man bar, each bartender buttoned up and skilled. Infront of us sits a young man with his pants halfway down his ass and us full view of his patterned boxers. Beyond him is a TV showing the Worst and Best plays in American athletics. Maybe I haven’t been in enough European pubs, but I’m thinking of those low ceilings, and the smell of old chips buildings. Cigarette smoke, and a game of darts in the corner. Floor might be a bit sticky from the beer. It sounds terrible. It sounds wonderful.

Give it time. I’ll try again tomorrow. The seagulls have gone to bed, music is rocking in the distance, Ma and Pa are passed out, better turn out the lights..

Hiatus – Day 11

Mermaid Treasures..

Sometimes people wake up to find it raining and begin to cry. We wake up to find it raining, and seek out other opportunities. We wait until shes finally just stopped, and head to the beach. It is thick with the scent of low tide and still too early for many to be out. The clouds hang low on the mountains and the thick treeline dropping down to the water reminds of days on the Alaskan beachsides, small fuzzy dog chasing tossed sticks…

We amble along, filling our pockets with the most colourful rocks, and unbroken shells. Mermaid treasures left by the tides for the land walkers to find. It is peaceful, and a gentle breeze pushes the sea onto the sand. It is absolute low tide and the ground is slick and squishy underfoot. It isnt until we find the round, unbroken shell the size of a fist do we head back up land. I poke at the dirt and flip large rocks over as I go. I find a pile of shells, only to realize it is a colony of crabs none to happy with my poking. They angrily wave their claws at me and scurry away.

We find a wooded path and I am surprised by how far from the sea it feels. It is thick with foliage and smells of tea. I step over dandilions, stretching the length of their stalks across the path, as if they too are craving the sea. Above us, long slender branches reach across, their bark coming away to reveal deep red skin. It is almost like the selkie that sheds its seal skin to stride upon the land on two feet. These trees seem like a snapshot, frozen in time mid action of doffing their tree skin, to return to the sea as something else. 

The return home seems almost hurried as the sun begins to break thru the clouds, chasing the morning mist and fog away. We hear voices seaward, but upon halting and turning, we see only the birds as the voices stop as well. We hear voices again, and again stop to see nothing. As if the very birds themself are speaking, mocking.

We finally reach the car, covered in sweat and muck, suddenly surrounded by civilization. We stow our treasures, then head off, the scent of the sea following us as we go.

Hiatus – Day 9

Kismet..

No, you didn’t somehow skip over a day and miss a bunch of juicy writing. I simply didn’t feel like writing yesterday. Not to say it was a bad day, on the contrary, it was quite a lovely day. There was lots of laughing, some arguing, some laziness, and a surprising amount of productivity. In honest, this writing business is somewhat difficult for me. Which is almost to say one has lost their very heritage… I had dreams of being a writer as early as age 5. A surprisingly concrete thought for a mush minded child. Too busy learning and absorbing life lessons to be thinking about adulthood. But simply perhaps, I was always going to be a storyteller, and books full of pictures of cakes and animals was my first forms. And though my mind has never stopped telling stories or pumping out its unique quirks, to form it into something I might smile with earnest at is a much different game.

For me, it is almost like digging deep down, and rediscovering myself. I close my eyes and I see three spheres orbiting themselves. Just around and round, like some sort of machinery. And each of them holds a thought, constantly changing, constantly swirling around in my mind. It is never peaceful in there, but for a while it felt as though one of the spheres was dim, blurry, orbiting slower than the others. Maybe like Pluto, there, but in the background. When I use energy to speed that sphere up, to clear its thought, it just wears me out a little. I am constantly feeling like none of my writings has an ending, rather I just get too tired and simply quit writing.

Today, a lot of little things happened. None of which was earth shattering, but put together and it felt a little bit like Fate. Those weird moments when you almost audibly hear pieces falling into place. Have you ever just met someone and felt that instant connection. Not necessarily a romantic connection, but an absoluteness that you are meant to know this person. Have you ever laid your eyes on something and knew you needed it. For whatever reason, but you simply can’t take your eyes off of it. Almost as if your soul is drawing you to these things..

Today felt like one of those days. I can’t say if any of it is real or just my imagination. But what I can say is, my soul feels alive..