I found myself in a slight state of disarray. I just got home from a graveyard shift, hadn’t yet slept and felt a frustrated build up inside of total weirdness. My professional life wasn’t anywhere near I expected it to be and for some reason none other than being a woman with feelings, I was just feeling like shit. I needed a getaway.
Tomorrow I’d be turning 28 and all I saw happening was an expensive night out to the usual bars and an overslept morning of headaches from the whiskey beforehand. I had two days off of work and that’s when I found myself back on the dreadfully trouble inducing Skyscanner app that had me previously ending up in Thailand on a whim.
“LAX TO EVERYWHERE” a common search setting on my phone (for science). Mexico.. $230 to Cancun. Vancouver $235…. I pictured myself alone in Mexico drinking a Margarita by myself and somehow that seemed really fucking sad, so I chose Vancouver. I hadn’t been to Canada before but it seemed right. So I purchased the ticket at 4PM, threw some completely uncoordinated articles of clothing and makeup in my luggage and knocked on the door of my old Vietnamese neighbor asking if he’d be interested in driving me to the airport at this exact moment.
He was a man of routine, a retiree who watered his orchids daily at 9AM and asked the mailman about expected parcels moments before they even approached his side of the street. He was a bit flustered by the idea of spontaneity but saw the sadness in my eyes and complied.
We drove to LAX where he told me about his daughters who are adult women now but chose to ignore his texts, and how his lifelong dream was to become a Porsche owner so he waited until after his divorce and finally bought that red 911. I gave him a hug at the terminal, questioned my sanity for a moment and I was off.
I boarded the plane, passed out immediately and woke to the stewardess handing me customs forms.
There is something so unbelievably healing about the Pacific Northwest. Every bit of existential crisis’ I’ve had (I’ve only had a few, dont judge) has been bandaged gracefully by short visits to Seattle and Portland. Something about walking in the rain and yet not letting it stop you from your intended plans for the day, or how much greener everything looked – as if the rain somehow bumped up the saturation settings in your eyes. The way you needed coffee, not for the 405 traffic stall, but simply for body heat and comfort and because it felt right.
Anyhow, I was there. It was midnight and I didn’t know much of anything to do because I did no research. I took a cab to the center of town, booked a dorm room in a hostel and headed up to my room. I open the door and there’s a beautiful man in his underwear, in which he said “Oh let me put some clothes on!” I told him not to bother, blushed, bashfully threw my luggage under the bed and was off to explore. The sky was crisp and cool, a small drizzle of rain came down and the streets were alive and buzzing with a plethora of languages and internationals. It was officially my 28th birthday and I was feeling alive, even though I was completely alone in a city where I knew no one.
First stop on the agenda: Post flight birthday Beer. I took a turn to an Irish pub (they’re always fun!) and sat at the bar. Within 15 minutes I had a crew of friendly Canadian girls handing me shots, buying me roses and kissing my cheeks. Sure, they were extremely intoxicated, but I was okay with their openness and we stayed in that pub until 3am where they legitimately kicked us out and I quickly learned that Canadians seem to be quite nice people.
The next day I struggled with a bit of a hangover but managed to fill in a day of hiking and mountainous climbing, a ferry ride over to north Vancouver and an absolutely breathtaking stroll through one of the lushest rainforests I’d ever seen. Mushrooms lined the muddy paths with huge moss covered trees towering over you like skyscrapers. I crossed over some mysterious suspension bridges hovering huge rushing rivers and waterfalls. It was the type of forest you’d stroll through on a bad day with your favorite book and a purebred black lab and instantly feel amazing. It was probably where Alice in Wonderland was created. It was also the type of place where you could easily be murdered by some complete lunatic and no one would ever find you.
My last day had already approached and I spent it with music, a rain jacket and a map. I basically just walked around getting lost but feeling in awe at every corner where I usually would come across something astoundingly beautiful. Like Stanley Park. Looking at Totem Poles, watching a rugby game, having beers with new friends, eating Poutine (SORRY ARTERIES) and the most mouthwatering Sashimi to ever grace your life that melted in your mouth like candy from the fish gods.
It was a nice way to step back and remember things that living in Los Angeles had me forget momentarily.
I forgot that park benches could be utilized by anyone to sit, observe and take in the world quietly. They weren’t just for the massive population of homeless people to pitch tents and shoot up heroin. At home, I avoid parks, but here I sat, listening to Gladys Knight watching something as simple as pigeons eating seeds and it somehow felt effing amazing and rejuvenating.
Call me a narcissist but I couldn’t help but feel like most everyone I passed was staring at me, I looked in a mirror (for the first time in days – good god – forgot to pack a hairbrush – status: RASTAFARIAN) to see if I had anything in my teeth. I realized that in other nicer cities, or more specifically the entire country of Canada, people respectfully give each other eye contact, we don’t look away or down like back here in California because: #Murderers.
No shame – I love Drake so much. We share a birthday and I was in his home country Canada and every shop I went into was playing him and it was nice.
Unusually Nice People
I talked to a random lady on a bus for 30 minutes about our favorite types of flowers and why buying fresh flowers isn’t a waste of money because they are pretty and they make you feel good and other people like to look at you carrying them and how men with bouquets of flowers on their way home is the greatest invention ever from God. A 50 year old Greek Barber I chatted with on the curb offered to take me to his families restaurant for a home cooked meal, a nice French waitress sat with me for hours talking as we looked outside at the rain and the passerby’s with their felted-cap babies in their mini north face jackets.
LEAVES, Colors. Not Palm Trees. Being in a blanket because you’re actually freezing from weather and not the AC and it’s cozy and hot chocolate.
I’m not trying to completely hate on LA, because obviously there’s a reason I’m choosing to live here, but its all about perspective, and when you feel lost, or unsure, and you have the capabilities – Go somewhere! You see, Los Angeles has something about it where you get so wrapped up in it’s world, that you start feeling like it’s totally real life, when it’s kind of not at all. It can suck the quality of life out of you in the most charming way. You start thinking that spending $50 on lipstick is both important and normal and sitting in your car for an hour in traffic isn’t that bad considering, and not seeing the sky is fine and trash floating in the ocean are plants and that everyone is totally beautiful, and you need to be as well, (when in the grand scheme of things doesn’t actually fucking matter) that
the helicopter flying above your house isn’t shooting beautiful landscape photography for Nat Geo but actually trying to track down whoever made those gunshots you thought were possibly, hopefully, a majestic fireworks show from Disneyland.
Here’s a story on how not leave a country however. My flight was scheduled to leave at 8am. I set my alarm for 5AM, gracefully slid my rolling luggage out of the dorm room as to not ruin all my roommates sleepytime, took a hot shower and asked the nice Scottish front desk man how to most easily get to the airport. I checked out, stepped out into the still dark morning chill and that’s when I met this awful Aussie who was very much still drunk from the previous night. He was only wearing a furry black sweater that he had most likely stolen from a petite korean teenager. He insisted that I did not walk alone in the dark and that he would be “gentlemanly” take me to the gate of the airport, because he was “gentlemanly” (mentioned that to himself about 9X.) I felt so embarrassed and tired, but there was no getting rid of the young man and so I just tuned him out as he loudly filled me in on his entire life’s history. I get to the airline desk, reach for my passport and its not there. I am already running late and frantically scour my bags while having a minor heart attack. Mostly because I was scheduled to be at work in approx. 8 hours from that point. I find a payphone, call the hotel front desk man and sure enough he has my passport. He sends it off in a cab, the worlds oldest cab driver eventually rolls up, slowly smiles and looks at the passport and inches his way towards me, checks the passport, checks my face, wants to talk, smiles, slowly. “SIR HOW MUCH PLZ! I HAVE TO GO” $40 down the drain. Run to the terminal, Ebola’s got the security screening backed up for an hour, my flight is currently boarding and im not even through security, let alone customs. Finally I speak up where they let me surpass everyone, barely make it on the plane.
Here’s the awful Aussie guy by the way (for proof)
Bye Canada! It’s been real xo