Saturday, 9 July 2011

travel: vancouver, portland and corvallis + what it means to have another 2 years in Canadia

so because i'm australian and i don't actually belong here, as such, there comes a time in a young woman's life where she must renew the visa that got here where she is today. or something.

where i am today is Whistler, British Columbia, west coast Canada. tripping down memory lane a little, i arrived here on one of the beautiful summer days whistler is completely capable of providing, only we haven't seen many this summer so far... i remember being incredibly jetlagged and going in and out of consciousness coming up highway 99 through what is now one of my favourite pieces of road in the world. it was so amazing and foreign and i was so out of it that i didn't know how much of the experience i dreamed...

coming here was a fairly random event for me, born from sheer desperation, and curiousity, and my lovely brothers (they may not get called that a lot, but for me with my lax definitions, lovely is entirely appropriate) basically pushing me out the door and into canada.

i ruined a relationship, it's been mentioned at least once before now, i ran away and was not a bit surprised that it fell to pieces. because of the afore-referenced sheer desperation i shrugged it off, did my best to bounce back. changed my mind about the 6 month stay and knuckled down to find myself a comfy little place here.

boiling it all right down to the barest of basics, i have. i belong somewhere. not always, and not with any real consistency (on days like today with a slight hangover i wonder why i have ended up in one of the whitest, most self-obsessed places i've ever been in my life, until i realise that it's the best thing that's happened to me for the last however many years), i do feel like it's my life and it's happening to me instead of being something that's happening to other people.

totally enlightened.

anyhoo, the above is just a brief observation on and around the fact that i decided to stay longer, and commit to another 2 year visa. i was disorganized about the application process, which is basically my style, but still managed to pull it off and duly made plans to leave Canada so i could "re-enter" less than a week later.

i spent a beautiful day with 2 beautiful swedish ladies, annica and johanna, and we window-shopped to our heart's content in vancouver. vancouver was still quietly and good-naturedly recovering from the riots that followed the canuck's loss at the stanley cup a few weeks prior to my visit. messages of love on the boards that were put up temporarily over broken windows were sort of cool to read. human beings can be pretty shit, but they can also be alright sometimes (and you can quote me on that pearl of wisdom- instant classic).

that night i got to hang out with andy, gianna and crew: a gang of finer folk you will never meet anywhere. i cherished the experience as these two are great friends of my brother stu, and hanging out with them was a little like coming home. andy and i may have set a new record for unrelated high-fives, as we found ourselves agreeing in a beer fuelled haze on most topics that got covered at the pub that night. gianna set me up on the comfiest couch in the world, and demanded andy get up about 4 hours after we went to bed to make the most ridiculously early flight vancouver - portland. andy did what he was told, which ended up including turning around after he'd dropped me at the airport because i'd left my phone (read: my ENTIRE LIFE) in the car. hungover. couldn't be helped. forever thankful, and owe him much beer. for life.

to reflect a little: one thing that whistler has given me is the ability to be comfortable meeting and chilling with just about any sort of people. it was easy chilling with this lot as they're practically family, but the old me would completely have baulked at the prospect of an entire night out with strangers. STRANGER DANGER. etc. i have got people skills coming out my ears now (well, if we're honest, the secret is alcohol, isn't it. and it always was, i just wasn't a drinker until i moved to whistler).

portland was awesome. went to powell's books, a city block sized bookstore with a freakin amazing cafe, and maps to get around. new and used books too. there's a nerdy part of me that i'll never shake that just finds bookstores the sexiest thing ever. i found my favorite childhood book by an aussie writer for $3. i nearly wept it was such an unexpected bonus...

to man up a little after my emotional bookstore visit, i made use of my last hour in transit to visit, on behalf of a good friend yanni, the Rogue Brewery downtown. beer at 11:30 am more than makes up for nearly crying in a bookstore, that's just basic maths. i drank a hefeweisen (hazarding a guess at the spelling) and looked about and wished i could stay and drink everything, one after the other, with the intention of truly getting to know the beers... but i was about to get on a greyhound with all the ex-cons (possibly not true, but i've got an imagination) and i felt i needed my wits about me.

other charming factors include people that walk around portland READING BOOKS as they walk. actually reading books. it was sunny and glorious that day and despite my sleep deprivation, there was joy to be found while wandering the streets of portland. my friend james got me onto this excellent show called "portlandia" which you should check out for a giggle, all about hipsters... there are a bunch of them in portland.

i tripped on down from portland to corvallis, where my lovely aunty sally and uncle bob live. it was the first time i had seen the place in summer, and i have to say it wasn't bad, not bad at all. they spoiled me as the always do with tasty dinners, a hilarious day-before 4th of July party which we pretended was the 4th of July to a few lovely older folk who weren't quite sure what day it was actually, but enjoyed themselves immensely in any case...

i spent a few days in sally's beautiful garden, enjoying the sunshine, reading books (4 of them, and they were all delicious) and drinking beer at inappropriately early times of afternoon. splendid. there is a peace in spending such relaxed time with family. i needed that week, and i am one of the luckiest girls in the world for having the sort of family nearby who always welcome me with open arms, who fill me full of coffee and stimulating conversation.

thank you sally and thank you bob.

landing in vancouver around 11am, i spent an unhuman amount of time in customs line waiting nervously to reapply for my visa. after an hour and a half, the customs officer clarified i was returning to canada to a job, and STAMP STAMP, i was in. he didn't even check my paperwork. as grateful as i am, i feel as though i am nowhere near appreciative enough of how easy it is as an Australian to live in this country pretty much as long as i want. i really wish there was some way to share my luck around, as there are so many people who love canada just as much as i do who can't stay here... they can't.

i sped on home, intending to stay overnight in vancouver and then changing my mind once i spent $100 as easily as breathing in while i was in metrotown... i don't know how, i walked away with not much more than new underwear and a pair of jeans. i had to get out of there before i saw something else shiny, so i jumped on the greyhound and back up to whistler.

the drive up to whistler, as i have noted before, is one of my favorite pieces of road. the mountains are beautiful, and the sun was high, in that wonderful way it is in summer until 10pm. i looked out the window and thought a whole bunch of really profound stuff.

i am in love with this place. and i am so happy that i get to live here, and that my life in whistler has been exactly what i didn't know i wanted all along.


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