Part 1 – Context-free excerpts from my Vancouver trip journal

I had the chance to get away in November. Getting away is good for everyone, and I really needed it. My rock-solid friends, Amin and Gary, invited me to stay with them in Vancouver. And they gave me the grand tour. Food, hiking, biking, strolling, arts, cooking, shopping and exploring. We didn’t slow down but to sleep at night, and it was a magnificent gift. Following is Part 1 in a series of journal excerpts from the long weekend away. 

Aboriginal totem pole awesomeness in Stanley Park.

Aboriginal totem pole awesomeness in Stanley Park.

Day 1. Midday on the West Coast. Lifting off the ground in Seattle, going up, up, up, the land spreads out beneath this tiny propeller plane into which I’m buckled, as if it would matter. Evergreen trees are everywhere. Enormous snow-capped mountains spike in the distance. It’s been so long since I’ve seen mountains. And, looking upon the green expanse of this coffee-grunge-granola-technology Mecca, the soundtrack in my head is na-na-na-na. na-na-na-na-na-na. (the theme from Singles, natch. Second favorite movie of my teenage years. Stealing Beauty was first. Laugh at me now.) I’m on my way to Vancouver, British Columbia, and into the arms of my friends, Amin and Gary.

Gary (left) didn't arrive in town from India until Saturday, so Amin (right) and I got some one-on-one time. Here, the three of us prepare to board the ferry from Granville Island back to Beach, where they live.

Gary (left) didn’t arrive until Saturday, so Amin (right), who’s clearly in the light, and I got some magical one-on-one time. Here, the three of us prepare to board the ferry from Granville Island back to Beach, where they live.

Day 2. Early morning in Vancouver. The sky is gradually brightening out my floor-to-ceiling window and, from where I’m propped in this perfect, fluffy guestroom bed, I see the outline of the mountains slowly appearing against the sky. Vancouver is still mostly quiet.

This was my room in Vancouver. Look at all that down fluffiness! I could not have been any happier.

This was my room in Vancouver. Look at all that down fluffiness! I could not have been any happier.

I just meditated for nearly 45 minutes, which is rare for a mom of two who sleeps till the last possible moment before heaving out of bed to get the kids ready for school. Oh, how I adore the fact that, right now, I’m in a 24th floor palace of peace staring at mountains, twinkling city lights and Vancouver Bay, no one expecting me to do anything or be anywhere any time soon.

Room with a view. English Bay.

Room with a view. English Bay.

Inexplicably, I feel amazing, although I drank a strong cocktail and proceeded to eat so, so much Indian food at Vij’s that I couldn’t even finish off the most exquisite thing I may have ever put in my mouth: A masterfully seared lamb lollipop caramelized on the outside, only to reveal tender pink perfection to the tooth, all finished with a thick, homey sauce of spiced tomatoes, cream and magic.

This was a tough decision. Cardamon Sidecar won out.

This was a tough decision. Cardamon Sidecar won.

Before dinner, Amin and I split a bottle of red while talking at his kitchen counter. I stood, he sat and we conversed from either side of his pristine granite island, sipping, sharing and laughing till we couldn’t breathe. What is it about kitchen counters? We stand around them for almost everything. Someone comes for tea; we perch on stools in my kitchen. There’s a sensitive story to tell; come on back to the kitchen. Charlie has homework; he does it in the kitchen. One kid has a meltdown; it starts in the kitchen. Parties congregate in the kitchen. The best smells in the house originate in the kitchen. A difficult conversation, it almost always unfolds in the kitchen.

Is this anyone else's dream home? I pinched myself that this is where I got to nest for the weekend.

Is this anyone else’s dream home? I pinched myself that this is where I got to nest for the weekend. Gary and Amin got style.

Brian and I have been standing in the kitchen a lot lately. We’re connecting at a deeper, more authentic, more vulnerable level than in any year prior to this one, and a lot of it has happened in the kitchen. I’m grateful we have a kitchen because where else would we stand and talk and troubleshoot and sort and explain and ask and tell and share and hug and cry and laugh and make sense of things and make plans and feel all of it and be ok, if not better, afterward?

There’s the living room couch, I suppose. But couches feel so serious. If you’re asked to sit down so you can talk, it’s about to get real. The couch is for cutting to the chase. Couch conversations end with huge hugs, if you’re lucky, and swollen eyes either way. I prefer kitchens.

This trip was plotted so I could refortify. Gain some space from everyday life, get out into nature and somehow relight my pilot light. Amin’s kitchen counter was just the place to start.

This snap was from a couple nights later, when Gary was home from his business trip, but this counter proved to be the scene of much long-forgotten bubbliness.

This snap was from a couple nights later, when Gary was home from India, but this counter proved to be the scene of much bubbling over.

Amin is a sociology professor and author of an acclaimed book, There Goes the Gayborhood?, for which he interviewed Brian and me years ago. It was our first meeting. We felt like we knew each other the moment we met and, in years since, we’ve grown close. He has a deliciously raucous past and a rich present, the balance of which make him ecumenical in word, thought and deed, erstwhile emotionally unattached to the words, thoughts and deeds of others. He has a lush inner life, a gorgeous way of seeing the world, a cunning sense of humor, intuitive knowing to beat the band, a cellular awareness of Spirit, killer dance moves, washboard abs and a fine talent for mixology.

I mean, really. This guy calls me "Energy Star" because he is an abundatntly gracious nickname genie. Here, he might be saying, "Nothing but shaken and chilled tequila will do for Energy Star, okaaay."

I mean, really. This guy calls me “Energy Star” because he is an abundantly gracious nickname genie. And he chills tequila in a martini shaker because he says room temp simply will not do for Energy Star.

Being with Amin is equal parts stimulating, relaxing, playful, easy and fun. We might jump—as we did while driving from his office at University of British Columbia to downtown Vancouver with his convertible top down in 40-degree temps because the sun was setting, the sky was huge, the air smelled like eucalyptus and he wanted me to take it all in—from discussing gender normative behaviors to cranking up dance club remixes and from geeking out about poutine to asking for each other’s insight on recent psychic visions. In the span of five minutes, we might cover 86 topics, and then linger a while longer on an entirely different topic before jumping to and from endless thought lily pads all over again.

Already, following an evening of eucalyptus air, beautiful food, awesome conversation, deep sleep and a sense of total acceptance, I can feel my bones draining of their heaviness, my heart relishing its new lightness, my personality remembering its playfulness. Vancouver medicine. Friend medicine. Oh, travel, I’ve missed you.

Sun, evergreens and the purest air I'd breathed in ages.

Sun, evergreens and the purest air I’d breathed in ages. It honest-to-goodness smells of eucalyptus. My favorite.

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One thought on “Part 1 – Context-free excerpts from my Vancouver trip journal

  1. Pingback: emily en route | New life

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