The first time I strapped my shaking and slightly numb feet into a snowboard, I was a 16 year old sixth form student trying something new on a school trip. My friend and I decided to rock the boat and snowboard by ourselves instead of ski with the rest of our group. We wanted to be the cool kids, and we sure felt cool riding (read: tumbling) down the slopes of Austria. The bruises, the pain and the inability to sit down for a month were worth every second of my five days on the snow, which living in the UK was the most I was entitled to. I knew my vision of becoming a professional snowboarder was blurry at best, but I would have done anything to settle for even owning a board of my own. Eight years later, and today was the day I finally walked into The Boardroom on West 4th Avenue, and purchased my very own 2009 Rossingol Amber, less than half price in the clearance section. I will admit to having a girl moment and buying the pretty bindings instead of the functional ones (who could resist a colour called Cherrybomb?), but I can’t wait to try them out this weekend.
This post isn’t really about me fulfilling a dream of buying a snowboard, it’s about me fulfilling a dream. Period. I know everything I write seems to be telling people to live their dreams and do things they always wanted to, but this time I really mean it. That thing you thought you would never be able to do…why can’t you? I didn’t decide to move my life half way across the world just so I could be within 30 minutes of a mountain and therefore justify buying a snowboard. That’s not my message; the big move was something I planned to do anyway. The newly purchased snowboard was an innocent bystander in my Canadian adventure, and I’d forgotten how much I really, really wanted to own one until I watched the incredibly helpful girl in the shop wrestle with my Cherrybomb bindings. I was so focussed on everything else I’ve been working towards that I completely forgot about my original, smaller and (some may say) more realistic goal. Now I’ve remembered, I’m not going to let go of this creeping sense of euphoria until this post is published and I’ve done my bit to convince you all to get out there and TRY. You don’t even have to achieve anything, just try. In the words of Dr. Pepper himself, what’s the worst that could happen? One day you could end up being one of the cool kids too. Maybe I’ll let you join my gang…
Recently I’ve found myself experiencing ‘that feeling’. You know the one; when you’re certain that somewhere, sometime you’ve already experienced the thing you’re doing now. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re either re-living a past life or there’s a glitch in the matrix. Fortunately for me I’m 99% sure I haven’t been reincarnated and Keanu Reeves is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the time has finally come that I’ve been in Vancouver for over a year and I really am starting to do, see and experience things for the second time.
My earliest weeks in Canada shaped my time here in the same way that most people find when they move somewhere new. The coffee chain you visit, the bars you drink at and the stores you shop at soon become habit for no other reason than the fact you don’t really know what else to do or where to go. Humans naturally crave routine, and in particular a safe routine, so when a group of 38 young people land in a new country they tend to cling to the things that work out well the first time around. Case in point: The hostel we stayed at when we first arrived was on the seedy, central strip that is Granville Street, so we spent our first few weeks exploring the bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants in the near vicinity. Although I now spend as little time there as possible (it turns out there are far, far nicer places in Vancouver) I still have a soft spot for the Speakeasy Bar & Grill we went to on our second night, and the BG Urban Cafe we used to go to for lunch. I like to think my horizons have definitely been broadened in terms of exploring Vancouver, but I do get a little sentimental thinking about what I was doing a year ago.
My first ‘flashback’ occurred when I saw a poster advertising the February 2012 Hot Chocolate Festival, which was one of the first events I remember from when I arrived. While I didn’t actually partake in any hot chocolate drinking in February 2011, I still felt a jolt realizing that this was a festival I’d already seen before. I felt the same when I read that Dine Out Vancouver (an amazing two weeks where restaurants offer set menus at huge discounts) was coming up again. In 2011 I went to Las Margaritas mexican restaurant in Kitsilano for their $18 set menu, and to this day it is still one of my favourite (if not my actual favourite) places to eat out. The same goes for the Chinese New Year Parade, Illuminate Yaletown and Winterruption Festival at Granville Island.
Usually I’d avoid writing two posts in a row about visa applications, but this time I’ll make an exception as this is a Really. Big. Deal. This afternoon I mailed the 30+ sheets of paper that make up my application for Permanent Residency to the Citizenship & Immigration centre in Nova Scotia. Oh yes, the first step on my journey to becoming a fully fledged Canadian is now complete.
Oh, so you must really like Vancouver then?
Well yes, I do. Enough to want to apply to live here longer than the two more years my working holiday visas will allow me too. Applying for and receiving Permanent Residency doesn’t mean that I will stay here forever, but it does mean I have the option to. And I’m all about keeping my options open.
What about your other half?
I did come to Vancouver with my boyfriend, and I’m not about to send him on the first boat back home. We’ve been living together for two and a half years now, which means we are technically ‘common-law partners’ in the eyes of the law. Any couple who have been living at the same address for 12 months or longer is classed as common-law, meaning that they share a lot of the same legal rights as any couple who are married. Including the right to name one partner on the other’s Permanent Residency application.