Déjà vu: The Same but Different.
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.
I can’t possibly talk about memories of early 2011 without mentioning the now infamous Superbowl Sunday, when around 20 of us Brits crammed into a bar in Downtown Vancouver to watch a sport the vast majority of us knew nothing about (and still don’t). I couldn’t tell you who was playing in that game, or even who the half time performer was, mostly because my eyes were fixated on the group of Vancouver-based actors sitting in the corner. Watching Tom Welling (Smallville), Jared Padaleki (Supernatural) and Jensen Akles (Supernatural) drink their beer and eat their burgers was a humbling experience, as even though I didn’t know who Padaleki or Akles were, I was pretty stoked to watch Superman walk into a bar. The Superbowl will always have such hilarious connotations for me because of those few hours in the Red Card, and realizing that Superbowl Sunday was upon us again in 2012 definitely woke me up a bit.
This week I also celebrated my one year anniversary at my not-so-new-anymore job. It was a great feeling, made even more special by a homemade card from my ever so sweet colleagues. Hitting the 12 month mark is a key milestone in any job, but it’s an even bigger deal when you work in a cyclical organization with a clear 12 month campaign calendar. For the first time I’m finally able to say ‘well this time last year…’ and not be referring to my previous job in the UK. It’s made all the difference to my confidence as I finally feel like I’ve been there, done that and I know what my role is. One of the best things about my job is that it’s always changing, but I’m facing my second year with a mix of excitement and determination. The other best thing is the fantastic team of people I work with; many who I can finally say I’ve known for over a year. Over a year. It still sounds strange.
The real jolt to my one year old system comes with knowing that this time last year there were at least 25 of us from the same UK flight who had set up camp in Vancouver, and we were still getting to know each other. Unfortunately that number has nose dived since then, and there are now only four of us left (though at least two more special people are coming back, the sooner the better!). Although I feel so comfortable and at home in the city that I was once so lost in, 2012 is a lot quieter on the Brit front which has taken some getting used to. Experiencing so many familiar events and happenings is still a little weird, as everything is the same but different. I know it sounds a bit vague, but you’ll just have to trust me on this one.