The weather forecast for these two up and coming weeks are rain with more rain with a chance of scattered showers. Monday – Wednesday Vancouver breaking news…
Let’s start with something positive. Customer Service in Canada, I love it! They are so nice in every store, so polite and genuine. Hello they say, always smiling at you, even as they walk by you on the road. I honestly don’t care if it is fake and doing it only for my money either, honestly after 4 1/2 years of lack of Canadian niceness, they can have it!
Now a little something negative. I feel disappointed. Between dodging the busy traffic in the left lane, trying to see past massive 4X4s and hummers, the rapid cramming conversation trying to get all the details of 4 1/2 years into a 2-hour lunch, the miraculous return of my Canadian accent eh?, the my splurge shopping spree; I feel myself reverting to my old self. I guess the this girl was never really gone, just dormant under the surface somewhere. Or perhaps we are different people in different countries, and different lives brings out different characteristics. People don’t really let you change anyway, they expect you to stay the same.
Even if we want too, can we really change? 8458 kilometers to the other side of the world to start a new life, absorb a new culture, learn a new language, change your pace, change your point of view, the question becomes, do these kinds are changes stick, or do we revert back during the 8458 kilometres back to visit?
The first few things I did was buy the luxury items I do not privy myself to in France, the normal items that is normal Vancouver. The $8 Starbucks coffee, the $21 soft cover new release book, the $120 yoga jeans, the $360 Lululemon yoga outfit; those sweet divulges that we don’t allow ourselves in France, nor fits in the southern lifestyle.
I often forget how large Canada is. It is spread out, and my family is sprinkled at all the corners of the lower mainland. I stopped counting at 200 bald eagles on route from Ladner to White Rock in the torrential downpour while in the car for nearly an hour on Monday morning. They perched on large irrigation sprinklers in the middle of swampy fields. Swans, and ducks swam around in the new formed lakes. Eagles ate rodents that floated to the top, like a bird of prey smorgasbord; frogs, snakes and mice were on the menu. The open soggy field right of highway 99 was at capacity from the rain water, and in some spots it ran into the ocean flooding the dike.
We went for lunch at the old OB now called Ernest Hemingway’s. We had fish and chips and belly ache laughs with my fave gal pal Tracy, right on the White Rock strip. The silvery seas were choppy, and the clouds seemed to run into the sea going from grey to dark grey of the winter waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Monday mom and I hit the outlet stores and my favourite upscale store PLUM. I bought a new pair of yoga jeans. Then we found mom a new pair of boots. We drove home by 19:00 and we ate more potstickers again for dinner. I fell asleep in the middle of Downton Abbey!
Tuesday morning we went to Robson Street to buy a Lululemon yoga outfit, then visited at the camera shop on Burrard and next I took mom to work in Richmond Costco.
I headed alone to White Rock along 99, not so much rain today and I arrived by 2:00 in the afternoon. I was meeting my friends at 3:30 so I had some time to drive around. I was astonished by the amount of construction at every turn. I couldn’t find people’s houses that I knew just 4 1/2 years before; some torn down, some surrounded by mega homes, new builds, some hidden by apartment blocks or townhouse complexes. My neighbourhood had gone under a huge transformation and I was not happy about the traffic yet again. It took me 25 minutes to get from one side if White Rock to the other. I was also shocked to find out that the new school we helped plan started at 250 students the first year, second year 450 children and third year they are already building mobiles to house the 750 at capacity school! The area boomed into a cluster hump of mega builds and traffic jams. I feel sick to think at the pace of life.
I called around to find a friend to have coffee with. Sadly no one. 3:30 came quickly after a green tea from Blenz and a walk through the old Semiahmoo Mall. I was back on track, wide awake, I finally found my old friend Grace aka California and we had a quick chat rapid fire pace before she headed out with her daughter to a class. It was time to head over to my girlfriend Dominiques new townhouse near the new school.
Inside it’s big, modern and beautiful. They are good friends, and my only French friends from back in Canada. They have three delightful and very beautiful girls. I spent the next 2 1/2 hours talking about France, and catching up. The Scottish neighbour and our friend Christine came over for a quick hello too. They moved to BC the year before we left for Europe and were an inspiration to us. I was happy husband Matthew made it home before I left for a big hug and a wee chat before I tackled the traffic jams back to Richmond to pick-up mom from work.
They reminded me of the pace I had in my former life in Vancouver, when I didn’t know any different. The expensive extra curricular activities, the school trips, the school meetings, and the demands of city life. The speed at which everyone talks. I miss them but I had to ask if i could ever pick up to this pace again?
After we got back to Mom’s place we walked up the street to find some Chinese food. We passed a great deal of restaurants and ended up in Safeway to buy ribs and wings. I saw a pack of Kraft Dinner and couldn’t help myself. It was so bad, so salty but somehow comforting. What does it say to crave processed foods visiting home. Do I correlate Canada with crap food? Easy answer, yes I do.
Wednesday we went to Langley to visit an old friend of ours. Helen is an artist, and back when I first met my husband in 1990 we also met another Hungarian family in the same apartment block and we have known them ever since. We spent the day looking at camera lenses, video games for our Canadian Wii and one piece bathing suit shopping. Then I took the girls out for lunch and I was treated to a large cup of coffee at a gourmet coffee shop. We sat there for hours laughing hard while reminiscing about how silly us kids were when we were young. I can honestly say we loved hard, lived our lives without regrets and learned from all our stupid mistakes. It seems all have grown up and well.
So let’s break it down; Richmond, Marpole, Kitsilano, Downtown core, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, North Surrey, Ladner, Tsawwassen, South Surrey, White Rock, Cloverdale, and Langley since Sunday. We have spent a great deal of time in the car since my arrival. I drove most of the last two days without much of a problem. My culture shock is dying down, and I am remembering some of the things i loved most. Over 500 kilometers in three days during my vacation so far!