I am currently writing about the shock and awe of ‘coming home’ to Vancouver after being feral for ten years. ‘Course it is NOT home anymore for me and Sal. It is yesterday’s home. History, really. The shock and awe we feel comes mostly from the fact that it is not the way I remembered it. Not even the way I experienced it during those somewhat regular but still infrequent visits over the years. Back then I went from the ferry to see friends – do a little shopping or something – and then back to the ferry. I did not spend a lot of time in West Vancouver, the North Shore or Downtown. And that is where the biggest surprises were!
Soon we will go further afield and I suspect to be just as surprised by what has changed out there, too.
Well, these are not really BIG surprises, I guess. We have spent some time in Hong Kong, after all. We have seen the proliferation of high-rises and shopping venues gone insane before. And we have been in enough cities around the world to know even heavier traffic, crowded stores and sidewalks and madding crowds to extreme saturation levels. Been there.
I guess the real issue is…..kinda……that I didn’t expect Vancouver to ‘be there’. Not yet. Not so quickly, anyway.
It feels as if the Vancouver skyline has doubled and the streetscape has thickened. It feels as if Vancouver traffic has tripled (at the very least) and it feels as if, somehow, time has been altered. Like I was Rip Van Winkled or something. It is a strange feeling for me. I am a bit out of sync I think.
Don’t get me wrong. I can still drive. I can get from A to B. I know where New Westminster is. I can find ‘ways’ through traffic and locate favourite haunts (those that still exist) and the basic landmarks of yesterday are still there. But the tempo, the heartbeat, the pace. It’s different. It’s almost foreign…getting oddly Toronto-ish.
It is hard to describe it, actually. My hometown is starting to feel foreign to me. I don’t belong here anymore. My ‘center’ has shifted. And, weirdly, as comfortable as I am in our new home up the coast, that house has not quite become the new ‘center’. Not yet anyway. It is definitely home but I know that it is a remote home, a distant place, a bit more home-base more than a home-home. If you know what I mean…….?
I guess we are still in transition. After ten years. Who would have guessed?
To be fair, our adjustment to being out there and our adjustment to returning for a month or so is much the same kind of ‘change-adaption-process’ and so a little confusion or disorientation is to be expected, I guess. It is just that this is my old stomping ground. I mistakenly expected the same and I got different.
New Guineans have had it much, much harder. Seventy five years ago they were naked bush people with bones in their noses and marvelling at great silver birds in the sky. Today some of them are airline pilots and software engineers. They all have smartphones and TV. They don’t hunt. They don’t try to kill the strangers. They buy Nike.
THAT is shock and awe. Us? We are just a little slow to catch on, I guess.
I know what you mean I spend most of my time no more than about twenty minutes from home. Stuff changes but not too fast. I prefer to live at a stroll. Placed as we are two hours outside of Gastown while our growth has been slow we have all the social problems attendant with cities everywhere and like most places have no plan to deal with the homeless, the poor, the addicted…!
Yeah…I always knew I lived in a village-within-a-city (following much the same routes and frequenting many of the same places most of the time I was living here) but I was still pretty mobile. My office was my car. My meetings were held in restaurants and public-offices (I was a mediator/arbitrator). So I got about more than most but still………..I never fully required, explored or absorbed the whole of the city. Not even in my most gadabout days. I thought I noted changes. I probably did. But I didn’t get ém all and I sure didn’t ‘get’ the pace of change. Go away for ten years and you come back a foreigner. There really is a rapidity to change I didn’t fully grasp back in the day.
The city is moving east passed Abbotsford rapidly developing in Chilliwack. Modest single family homes in the ‘wack are $300,00 and new homes on small lots are $500,000. Rush hour on the 401 extends nearly to Hope these days. Few people have any reason to go downtown all the major chains and services are up the valley. Traffic flies as the suburbs are not friendly to green initiatives…few buses and few if any bike lanes.
A friend of mine (now deceased) used to refer to people as a ‘cancer on the earth’. Seemed kinda dramatci at the time. Not so much anymore.