Back in Canada, 10 years later ….
I’m here at Parallel 49 in Vancouver, drinking a mocha comprised of in-house cashew nut mylk, and homemade dark chocolate which came out of a Willy Wonka-looking fountain. Around me are typical Main Street Vancouverites: on the left, two mid-20’s ladies catching up, in their cable-knit oversized jumpers, boho slouched beanies, paired with cropped black skinny jeans and converse shoes. On the right, two sporty men, with trendy Nike running shoes, thick rimmed glasses, baseball caps, and polo sports shirts. The fashion choices represent that whole “I rolled out of bed this way”, or “just came from the gym”, but you can tell they are deliberate choices. The whole coffee shop is filled with these types, creating an ambiance that I must admit I’ve been craving for a long time.
Yep. I am Home.
I find coming back to a place you once called home to be overwhelming. On the one hand, a sense of relief washes over you. No more do you have to think about how systems work, who you’ll meet, where to go, and the best way to get there. Home is easy, as it’s the place you often no better than any other. There is no effort required in the day to day.
On the other hand, you see a physical city which looks the same, but is different. And how? Communities in Vancouver are pretty much unchanged. When deciding where to live, I still find myself coming across the same options “hippie Kits”, or “posh South Granville”, or “trendy Yaletown”. You get the picture. Some areas have more hipsters, gentrification has spread, and once unvisited parts of East Vancouver, or Hastings/sunrise now contain what seems like endless selections of craw brew joints.
But where do I fit in? What am I looking for? After 10 years in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, my tastes have changed. Vancouver is a city of money – and many like to flash it around, while touting a “casual laidback, sustainable lifestyle”. Ironic isn’t it? A pardox in itself.
I’m no longer into finding the newest build apartment. Or being right in Cambie Village, walking distance to shops. Faolan (my partner) noted that being around commercial areas makes you want to spend money, often on frivolous or superficial ‘stuff’.
No, what I’m searching for is a community. A group of people who know and look out for each other. Who grow food together, share their resources, their knowledge, their time. Who know that life is more important than stuff, and that true happiness comes from connections, from spirit, from love.
I suppose I’m looking to fall in love with Vancouver, somehow, to know I belong. Yet everyone I speak to who share the same ambitions around groundedness and community note that “it can’t be found in Vancouver”. So we’ll see.
For now, I sit in this coffee shop, looking at these trendy, seemingly happy, carefree people. I appreciate them for who they are, what they have. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to make these choices, as so many people I’ve met in the past 10 years do not have these options.
I carry their spirits in my heart, knowing they fuel my desire to settle and appreciate all that I have.
And settle I will. Somewhere.