A remote state of mind

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.

16 thoughts on “A remote state of mind

  1. Thank YOU David.
    It is a relief to know that We are … “normal”. We mirror both your thoughts and experiences on almost every count in regards to “town days”. We generally overnite due to the volume of necessary stops, but maybe we are just not as efficient as You two, yet. And we have not ventured South of Comox, as yet, in our 9+ months since coming Home. We do have three dogs to add to the chaos tho, and We have much to learn as to where best to get what. But we both pretty much loathe leaving Home at all regardless, even tho town does have ‘goodies’. I can’t grow a new chainsaw on a tree for example, and one MUST hit a liquor store for the butterscotch schnapps! Gasoline being another town need, tho I’d have EVERYThing electric drive if I could. The Solar System is working out real fine. We are pushing 3 months since town, very similar to your experience tho we often have neighbours do online ordered grocery pickups for us, God BLESS Them! Such a relief to be ‘normal’ OTG’rs, because for SURE You are normal, right?!!?πŸ˜‰β˜ΊπŸ˜Ž Have a beauty day.


    • Oh, yeah. Be 100% assured. I am normal and healthy and sane. A stable genius, to boot. Sal? Well, she tends to ADHD (“Hey, look! A squirrel!”) but otherwise she is fine. However, none of this is sane…..we are in some sort of quasi-denial of real-life. And we know it. “So, do we have to go to town?” Yes, we do. “Well, can we schedule it in for the month after next or maybe try taking out my appendix here?”


      • Exactly! Tho I disagree a wee bit, as after some thought I would say that WE are Normal, the rest of the World living quite madly.
        Appendix? We were late getting here as we waited an extra few years while Amy completed her medical acupuncture training, all the better for her to care for us!


      • I read a pamphlet. An appendectomy is easy if the patient cooperates. I have yet to find one that will, tho. Sal swears that she will take hers to the grave and that I will never get my hands on it! We’ll see about that…….


  2. “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.”


    I agree 100%
    When I first moved to Vancouver in 1981 the traffic was ok.
    40 years later?
    Its a disaster.
    The NIMBY activists that fight every expansion. The Greens that demand more bike lanes.
    The “traffic calming” of neighborhoods
    If you want to see grid lock.
    Pick any Friday at noon on a Long Weekend OR and heavy snow day.
    If the incidence of increasing road rage here is any indication.
    The city traffic also sucks the humanity out of people.


    • When you are immersed in it, you learn to cope somewhat. And I coped. I could listen to the radio, eat a burger, drive with my knee and talk on the phone while making notes in my day planner on my way to wherever. Some of it was done like a driving savant but, of course, most of it was done as traffic was stopped or barely crawling. When I was busy in the city, I would fill my car’s fuel tank three times a week and I drove a diesel! Today, I fill my car’s tank once every two months (and it still bugs me). That is a huge difference! But, just think..I would drive like a fiend to make an appointment and then crawl all the way through a ten story parkade to then stumble down and across a few streets (waiting for the WALK sign) just to get in a line-up for the elevator. Then I would stand and wait patiently for the receptionist to hear my query, make an intercom call and then ask me to sit and wait. Done once in awhile, it was no biggy. Done two or three times a day for 30 years, it became a history of wasted time. Traffic, line-ups and all that crap I estimate took an average of three hours a day! I never regretted my work but I now regret the crap that went along with it. As I have said before, I would not go back if they gave me a mansion for free in Shaughnessy. Why would I?


      • And I too have never missed it, the work, or the City, one iota since the day I left, and We have zero regrets, other than not doing it 35+ years ago, in moving here. Home now is truly where the Heart is, and We is There!πŸ˜ŠπŸ™‚β˜ΊπŸ˜πŸ˜‹


  3. Stop it guys, I’m drooling here πŸ™‚ . But I totally understand what you are saying. Only positive side is that I rarely have to drive in the city, and traffic is still OK outside of the city. Only positive side of COVID, traffic jams in the cities almost have disappeared as more and more people work from home. But even for us going to the city feels a bit strange. I used to like to go shopping from time to time in the city (I know, call me mad), looking to stuff, getting a coffee or just drinking a beer. We went last week to the city, with all the COVID restrictions, you actually feel like some “criminal”, walking around with your face mask, not allowed to enter the store with your wife, all bars and restaurants closed, so no possibility to eat or drink something or go for a sanitary stop….there is just no room for fun or relaxation anymore


    • Ironically, for me, one of the appeals – different ethnic restaurants – is no longer attractive and that is partly because Sal and I have endevoured to try ‘copying’ those tastes in our own cooking. Of course, we are no good at it but doing that has dampened one of the last remaining society-city-based draws. As we aged, our primary form of ‘fun’ was small dinner parties, anyway. And that can and does still happen out here (pre-Covid and post. Nothing this past year). I recall Sal and I taking in a Canucks hockey game a few years ago and it was so stupid and boring that we left before the 3rd period began. That which used to be entertaining simply was not. Did the city just get too boring? Or did we just ‘shift’ away too much. Doesn’t matter – we are now poles apart.


      • Small dinner parties are also very high on our funlist. And yes, most of the other appeals of the city seem more and more trivial. We used to enjoy a nice restaurant from time to time, but since they are all closed, we don’t really miss them. We miss dinners with our friends and relatives though


  4. Following social distancing medical advice, washing hands, keeping to a small bubble of people, wearing a mask and not traveling unnecessarily. Keeping clear of large gatherings in cities is very prudent. In a pandemic there is no place like home. Stick to home it is safer.


  5. Big winds coming tonight (Thurs) and early tomorrow (Fri) am brudda.
    Looks to be 70-90kms winds with higher gusts flowing from the North down the coast to a south east direction.
    Reef in the Mainsail!
    Batten down the hatches!


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