Thursday, Nov. 15th. Penticton, Princeton, Vancouver
Got up early in the morning for bussin', but I managed to have everything together. I didn't sleep much the night before, though. I loaded onto the bus and bounced between the end of Douglas Coupland's jPod, a random philosophy paper I was due to read before class, and case 4 of the third Phoenix Wright game. I listened to the music I'd brought when I wasn't playing Wright; for some reason half the CDs weren't working, so I was limited to the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, Heart by Stars, and I think Set Yourself on Fire.
At the Princeton stop, while I fumbled about to get hot water into my tea, ended up talking to this guy named James who was 20, and had got on about around Hedley. He was helping family do renovations, or something, and then was going to go home and snowboard, I think. He didn't finish high school because he was fed up with it, but he still wanted to go to college at some point. Or be a welder, I can't remember. I might have managed some sleep before Princeton and the Lower Mainland. If so, that's all I did get.
The rain was hard on the windows as we hit the Fraser Valley. It was between four and five, and the sky was a dark grey that filtered through the raindrops. A baby was crying at the back. He was likely younger than three, somewhere between 1 and 2 was a good guess. Her mom was sitting across the aisle from James and was our age. She had brown hair and a long face, and was stressed. She complained often that the bus was going to be late, and traffic was at a standstill. I kept going back there to try and cheer up the baby, who was not having a fun time. I tried singing the Parting Glass, but it didn't work. I also tried my cellphone trick (when a younger kid has a fake phone, ask them to call you and then set off the ringer on your phone and pretend to talk to them), but it's probably a three-and-up concept. Thankfully, the worst of the crying started when we were like three blocks away from the Greyhound station in Coquitlam (which wasn't a short trip, due to traffic). An enduring fixture of that landscape is the Ikea a block away, which stood tall and dark blue, blocking out all other objects in that directon when you looked at it. When the mother and her baby left, James and I had a conversation about music. He said he didn't have MSN or Facebook, but asked for my address anyways and said if he ever felt like starting a band, he'd call me. When you're on a bus, you'll meet people, and you'll go out of your way to meet them, just out of searching some variety for those five hours. Likely we'll never meet again, but I can't help but think in some way that the experience was important.
Auntie Marie picked me up, and I was glad to see her and my cousins again. The rain continued as we drove around and discussed our plans for the next few days. We arrived in Deep Cove. They were moving out soon (by now, they already have) so it was my last time in the house itself. Auntie Marie was a little stressed over issues relating to moving and her ex, who's the cousin's dad. I was trawling through Facebook and MSN looking for people to hang out with the next day, more or less unsuccessfully. You know, when you live in a small town but are still really busy from day to day, you think that going to hang out in the city will remove you from your everyday stresses and let you relax. What really happens is that what makes you busy doesn't actually disappear, but they change: maybe those problems aren't exactly yours any more, maybe you're a bit removed from them, but they're still there. Still constructive, but maybe not the rest and relaxation that everyone thinks they are.
Cousin Jacob, age 3, was very sad that I didn't bring any new episodes of Doctor Who with me. To make him feel better, I played Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past with him on my DS, reading out the opening story. When I was fighting the soldiers, the conversation went like this:
Jacob: "Those the bad guys?"
Me: "Well, sort of. They're regular soldiers, then the evil wizard put a spell on them, and now they're trying to hurt Link."
Jacob: "But they not the bad guys. Why you hurting them?"
I was pretty shocked that he could grasp that concept, and unprepared, I threw up a flimsy justification that if you didn't defend yourself, you couldn't save the world. Maybe we don't really think about the faces behind the criticisms we make. I'll come back to this when I discuss one of the big issues on the UVIC campus right now.
Friday, Nov. 16 Vancouver (remember, everyone outside of the Mainland thinks North Van and Surrey are essentially the same city)
Babysat Matthew while Auntie ran out to get some things. Some time after she got back, the organizer from my student union called and said that a delegate had dropped out of the National General Meeting, would I be able to go to Gatineau on Tuesday? I replied yes, despite the travel press it would create. Auntie Marie was estatic, both because I got to go to Quebec, and that she got to hear the news first. Most of our family now lives in Penticton, so she feels isolated sometimes. then eventually went with her to go get dim sum at a restaurant called the Pink Pearl. All the employees were almost overeager to serve. I think it was because the owner was in and intimidating. I told him I thought all his staff did well, hoped that would help them out. The place was extremely ornamented.
It was getting to the time that I figured I could just start making my way down to Surrey to meet Jenelle to hang out. I wanted to go to the Canucks game that evening, but it just wasn't going to work. Wandered around Columbia skytrain station waiting for Jenelle to get off of work (and picked up some wicked awesome Phoenix Wright pins) but found she was actually in Surrey, so I saddled up again and rode on the Skytrain, which is an interesting experience of isolation. In the opposite way the bus works, the Skytrain is a whole mess of people shoved right next to each other, competing to see who could ignore each other the longest.
Went to Jenelle's place, traded lame jokes with her family, ate delicious pizza, watched Harvey Birdman for the first time. Eventually, her friend she graduated with came over and we all went to a bubble tea restaurant, which was interesting that it tried (and more or less succeeded, despite the noise level) to achieve middle-class restaurant status for what was essentially a shake shop. We talked about comedians and awesome things. Her friend was taking studies in law at BCIT, and thought the idea of Phoenix Wright was ludicrous. We came back, planned my return trip, watched Heroes (I had never seen it before) and then I took the skytrain + long bus ride back to North Van. Wandering around Burrard under the skyscrapers while it was raining was a remarkable experience. A homeless guy asked me for a dollar fifty. I gave it to him and asked if he could give me change on another specific amount. I was going to give it to him, then realized I was about to take quarters from a homeless dude. I gave him the whole toonie. I was worried about taking buses at night, but it didn't seem to ever be an issue. The bus was packed. It was Friday night, maybe I should have expected it.
When I got back to Auntie Marie's at 12:30, her and her friend were packing with the liquor cabinet opened. She was pleased to finally be able to offer me booze. I had a 7-up with vodka (One of the only two alcoholic beverages I would have my whole time in Vancouver). Her friend works for an NGO that worked with women criminals. We talked about the future. I was no more decided than I had been before, but I did get some words of motivation.
I finally went to bed, much too late, listening to Heart and waiting impatiently for the two Stars concerts that would come the next day.
When I get the pictures from Stars, I'll post a review of the concert/description of the day. It'll probably be in a different tone than this. The tone feels kind of strange, but I hope it came out interesting.