[This is a continuation of my account of my first days in Vancouver in May 2009. I think there’s one, maybe two parts left. Oh, and hey! Thanks for reading. I haven’t been posting consistently lately, which you may have noticed. Planning to post more in the coming days. Hope you come back. -Scott.]
As soon as I stepped off the plane in Vancouver, as soon as I set foot in the airport, I left some of the nagging 9/11 gloom behind. My shoulders, it seemed, were relieved of an invisible burden on this arrival. My posture began to automatically self-correct. I felt as if my skeleton was stretching itself out, expanding to its full height. Only minutes into my new life in Canada and already I stood taller, felt stronger.
I was not a visitor here this time. I was, presumably, here to stay. I had a job. And I had immigration paperwork, making it official.
Once I’d finished with immigration, I exited the Vancouver airport and stood on the curb with my two cats, still tucked safely inside their carriers. I filled my chest with Canadian air: inhale, exhale. Despite the nearby line of idling cabs, the air tasted cleaner and earthier to me. I could smell lilies blooming somewhere nearby. Only moments into my new life here and already things seemed less dangerous, less complicated, and more livable.
It was then that my eyes began to water. I didn’t expect this at all. I used the sleeve of my jacket to dry my face.
As I waited in the taxi line, my idle brain questioned why I was in Canada.
But wasn’t New York great? You loved it there!
Yeah, it was great. I loved it so much.
So why did we leave again?
Because it wasn’t safe there. We thought we were going to die there.
Oh. That’s right. Now I remember…
If we went to pick up milk, we thought we were going to die. If we went to fetch dry cleaning, we thought we were going to die.
That was awful.
Yep. Pretty awful.
An eerily silent taxi (a Prius, of course) sped me and the cats to the new apartment, in a neighbourhood known as Gastown. I sat in the backseat and opened up the local map on my phone. With a series of finger-pinches and swipes, I found New York. I was 2,900 miles away from it now. I found a webcam on the Internet overlooking midtown Manhattan. Thanks to the time difference, it was almost dawn in New York.
The city looked lonely and gargantuan. Despite the pre-dawn hour, it was still twinkling like mad, as usual. New York, it seemed, could still twinkle without me.