Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ramblings of a Reluctant Traveler

      There's something floating in my BLENZ coffee. Dust, I think. Doesn't dust settle in the oddest places? Me, I'm getting a little more "dusty" with age. It never occurred to me when I was young, that a day would come when I didn't want to just leap into change and challenge. That reluctance is starting to creep up on me.

      I'm sitting in the BLENZ coffee shop at the corner of Burrard and Robson, one of the busiest intersections in the heart of downtown Vancouver. By day's end, I will have traveled over 13 hours to get to my destination in Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast. My journey includes planes, trains, automobiles and a ferry ride. Lots of sitting. Lots of waiting.

       I am not a great traveler. I can't even watch the Amazing Race. Too much stress. I imagine myself in the position of having to run to make a train or deadline and my heart races. Even making this simple trip, in my own country, my fret-meter was off the charts. Ridiculous things captured my thoughts in the middle of the nights leading up to take off. How much will my suitcase weigh? What if my nose runs and I don't have my Dristan? Certifiable behaviour. And long plane rides. Forget it. I'm a fidgeter. Reading glasses on and off; sun glasses on and off to look out the window down below the clouds. I compulsively flick channels on the tiny screen in the seat ahead of me. Should I read? I dig out my book, only to deposit it in the seat flap. Should I sleep? Shoes on, shoes off? A restless fidgeter.

       But right now I have a quiet half hour to take deep breaths for the first time in weeks. I watch from the coffee shop window. Vancouver hasn't changed much since my husband and I courted in the early nineties here. We loved to walk Robson and Denman on Friday nights after work. Over the years, high end merchandisers remain, sharing the streets with souvenir shops, trendy restaurants, hotels and office towers. Same locations, firmly planted, it seems. One missing treasure is "Pepitas," a Mexican restaurant we frequented enough all those years ago, that it became "our place." It was an intimate, colourful locale known to us for its authentic food and excellent sangria. Sadly, not there anymore. It has been replaced by a "chain" restaurant with loud music and voguish, fatty appetizers.

The one I saw was completely red.

       Oh my goodness.  I just saw a mobilized "egg" drive down the street. That cannot have been a car, but it was driving down the middle of the road. It held one person and now I think that it was like a large tricycle enclosed in red enamel. Only in Vancouver.

Another thing I've only seen in Vancouver over the years is the diversity in approach to weather. Today, (mercifully and momentarily), it is NOT raining. The streets are still wet and people are trying to balance their coffees, and umbrellas while texting, as they navigate the crowds. It is not uncommon to see people wearing parkas standing three deep sharing crosswalks with those in shorts. Just now I saw a very old raggy-haired man in construction boots and above-the-knee, cut-off jeans standing beside a young Oriental woman with a fur trimmed hood and two middle aged men carrying skis. It's all movement and purpose out there on the streets.

And me....I'll sit here appreciative, that for the next two weeks, all the stresses of daily life can be set aside. I'll "dust off", do lots of visiting and observing and just enjoying best friends and precious family on this west coast. This reluctant home-body is grateful for the opportunity!

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