When you suddenly see the world a bit differently, noticeably differently, then one might describe that new view as an epiphany. But when one is immersed in that different world, and you only notice ‘differently’ when you get back to the original one, is that return feeling a reverse-epiphany? It is definitely confusion, bewilderment and/or feeling ‘out-of-whack’. Regardless of what it is called, it is also anxiety provoking. For us, anyway….
We used to dread ‘Town Day’. There was the get-up and hurry-up to get in various lines (Ferry, Costco, liquor store and the very worst line-ups at parts suppliers). There was also the clock running out while the chore list remained undone, the hemorrhaging of cash in large chunks, the sheer weight of crap jammed in the car and the logistics of all that which usually also included a doctor visit, a government office visit, accidental encounters, physical limitations, logistics and, of course, Murphy. Sometimes a Town Day felt like undertaking the invasion of the Beach at Normandy.
During our busiest of times, I regularly hit 21 to 22 stops while Sal shopped at two near-to-each-other stores. I would literally drive like a fiend getting in half my ‘calls’, then pick up Sal (laden with groceries and wine) and then we would strategically plan out the remainder of stops with her doing a slow, drive-by tuck-and-a-roll at some stores while I continued down the street to another. If you added bathroom-breaks, a grab-a-lunch, gassing up the car and petting a cute dog, we would approach 30 different stops on a busy summer day between 11:15 (when the ferry got in) until 5:30 (when the ferry took us back out to the other island). And, even then, we were not going to be done and drinking wine until around 8:00 or 9:00pm. Town days were hell.
We have largely improved a lot of that. With the house and large projects complete we have less to do, of course, and so there are less ‘parts’ stops (altho still way too many). We have delegated grocery shopping to ‘online’ and then delivered by water-taxi every two weeks. Same for pharmacy. With other members of the community all coordinating their shopping, the added delivery cost ($20.00 – sometimes less) it is actually cheaper than going into town ourselves!
Yesterday, February 23rd however, we had to do another Town day – first of 2021. We were last in town December 23rd, 2020. That’s two months! And I have achieved at least once a cheater’s version of three months (Sal went in on the second month) but I remained free for three whole months!
We figured we did 9 stops yesterday.
Bear in mind, too, that we have been Covid-isolating as well for a year. I am estimating that Sal and I ‘town-dayed’ (various versions including Victoria trips) maybe 6-7 times over the past year, yesterday maybe being the 8th. That is us engaging with the madding crowd only eight times a year and, honestly, we could get that down to four if we tried real hard (well, Sal’s hair-cut habit and fabric store attraction would keep her numbers up but I could do 4 easily). ICBC is offering us a low-mileage discount!
The point? All this isolation has altered my psyche and not much at all for the worse. I am happier with less town, more time here.
But here’s the weird part: when we left the city and then went back there within a week or so, there was no ‘difference’. It was nothing more than a ‘trip’ or, if done in the summer, a minor ‘break’ or ‘vacation’. Same-same. But, when we moved here and went back to the city say three months later, it ‘felt different’. By the time we were going back only once a year, it was like visiting a different city, it was all changing so fast, Vancouver was no longer home. It was ‘different’. By the time our visits dropped to every two or three years, going to the city was anathema to us and caused mild anxiety. Imagine that, eh? Returning to one’s home of almost fifty years was strange and caused anxiety.
I was literally amazed at how much time was wasted standing or driving in line, looking for parking, looking for addresses, waiting on meetings…..I hadn’t seen that as clearly before but, after a few years away, it seemed like the city just sucked the life out of you while you sat in traffic.
A few years after that, I noticed that my anxiety level started to increase as I approached Nanaimo! It was simply the car traffic and street signs and milling crowds but there was enough of that in Nanaimo that it felt like the BIG city! And, of course, Victoria was the same. Small cities had the same ‘Vampire effect’ as did the Big one – life draining and for no reason.
And a few years after that, Campbell River inherited the mantle of ‘big life-sucking city’ and there were enough chores, line-ups, people and confusion to also start to cause a similar anxiety level (parking is never a problem, tho).
It is truly amazing what these not-so-noticeable-at-first feelings do to you. You feel and act differently. You even think differently. I think I really am different. Now the whole world looks a giant town day and I don’t want much to do with it unless I have to.