It seems really odd to be writing this blog now. It feels like adding one more scene after the movie credits have already rolled. I mean, I’m back in Canada. That’s like neutral territory. I’ve been keeping this travel blog and now I’m not really traveling, not the same way. Why am I writing? What do you want to hear about? Hi, um, I got my taxes done this week and I found a good price on avocados?
Okay, I guess there’s a little more going on than that. I came over to Bowen Island last weekend to stay for the month, and to get a sense for whether or not island/coast living might suit me. So far I have mixed feelings about it. I love, love, love the peace and quiet and fullness of the forest everywhere, the quick and easy access to the ocean, the slightly slower pace. The place I’m staying is cozy and welcoming, with pretty much everything I need. I saw a friend’s place and was in awe of the lovely home they’ve built, the sort of life they can have. Today there was a brief break from the torrential rain; I went to a beach and watched a flock of mergansers, then went on a walk through the forest to a rolling, mossy viewpoint where hummingbirds darted and a raven soared overhead. More nature here than not, which is pretty much what I was hoping for.
But I’ve also had to take the ferry four times in a week – once on arrival, once to go get the aforementioned taxes done, twice to work onsite with a client. It’s cheaper as a pedestrian than with a car, of course, but even so you lose a lot of time in your day lining up for the ferry, waiting, boarding, waiting to exit. Today I realized there’s something that I need from the mainland that may mean I have to pop back over again tomorrow, probably with my car. I’m hoping at some point to have at least a three-day stretch where I don’t have to go anywhere. But not to have the freedom to just pick up and go somewhere whenever I feel like it – hmmm, that’s a definite drawback.
I’m also quite aware of how outside the community I am, and how long it would take me to build up connections here. I’m here only for a month, and I know a few people here, but it’s not like I’m going to get integrated into island society in a few weeks. If I was here for the long term, it’s unlikely that my friends from Vancouver would make it over here all that often, however well intended; I know how rare it is that I see any of my friends who are this far outside the city lines. And I feel the potential for isolation, ironically, more so than I did in India. In India, there was not the remotest possibility of seeing any of my friends and family back home, so I put that idea aside and was fully there. Here, there’s a vague sense of potential: could I be visiting them? Could they be visiting me? Am I missing out on something? Aw, I wish I could get to that event but I’d miss the ferry back, or have to bring stuff to stay in town. The nearness actually makes it a little more frustrating.
I’m thinking a lot about tradeoffs in living situations. I don’t have the budget for what I truly would want, because this is Vancouver we’re talking about and prices for everything are laughably insane, no matter what they’re saying about a real estate slowdown starting to happen. So I have to choose what I sacrifice. Will it be living space? Will it be the natural environment that I crave around me? Will it be proximity to friends and family, not to mention conveniences? Given the choice – which I am not, currently – would I pick a nice, well-maintained, small modern condo surrounded by other small modern condos where I can at least walk to a park? Or would I be content with a dumpy place in need of an overhaul as long as I could look out on trees? Or would I be just as happy to find a chunk of empty land and drop an Airstream trailer into it, and learn all the daunting stuff one needs to learn about wells and septic tanks and… and all the things I don’t even know I don’t know?
I’m not sure about any of this. My instinct goes towards comfort, but also towards pushing that comfort zone a little bit. So I’m continuing to live some other lives for a while until I figure out which one suits me. I can’t go back into the way things were before I left, and I haven’t been back long enough yet to know how I’ve changed. I know there is change – I find the way I see everything has shifted, like the camera angle swivelled to another position while I was away. But what it will reveal that the other angle didn’t, I haven’t the foggiest.