In Vancouver, the host of past heartache, the author says goodbye to all that
I have been in Vancouver International Airport’s baggage claim area about a dozen times. Every time I stood waiting for my luggage to appear from a flight arriving from Toronto or Montreal, I had the same feeling — a toxic mixture of hopeless love and aching lust, peppered with a knowledge that I was both stupid and doomed.
About a dozen times I stood there waiting for the same someone “special” to meet me in arrivals. Every time I knew I was being an idiot, and every time I convinced myself otherwise. Vancouver has the distinct pleasure of being the city that hosted my youth’s most essential, reckless decision. As life choices go, it’s not the worst one a girl in her early twenties can make — I misguidedly followed a boy across the country. (I’m quite sure now he didn’t really want to be followed, but was much too nice to say so.) He had been offered a job on the Left Coast, and after suffering through a long-distance relationship and multiple flights back and forth, I decided enough was enough. After four years in Montreal, clutching my mostly useless bachelor’s degree, I sold my belongings and boarded a plane to Vancouver because of love. I had no apartment, no job, and no plans — just a romantic notion of “going westward as into the future.” What was worse was that, even after all those visits, I wasn’t even all that sure I liked Vancouver, and as the months passed I became quite sure I hated it. At the time, my wise and irritatingly rational scientist father told me that no matter what my experience on the West Coast became, I should stay a full 365 days to give it the proverbial chance. A year to a fresh graduate is an excruciatingly long time, but now that rain-soaked memory seems only like a blip on an otherwise expansive map.
I’d been blaming my failure in Vancouver on a lack of funds for as long as I can remember, but there had always been a small voice in my head that suggested I should look deeper. So after ten years away (and with a boatload of repressed regret), I have reluctantly come back, out of morbid curiosity, stubbornly trying to prove something, or kill something, or maybe just to satisfy my masochism. This time I’ve landed in YVR with a healthy credit limit and no need to shoplift. Again I am baggage claim, this time on business instead of (attempted) pleasure, yet still feeling that inexplicable stupid doom that comes from a relationship that will never work out. And let me just say, Vancouver on love and Vancouver on business are two very different places. (more…)