duck-shaped pain


30 September 2002
Vancouver, sort of.

I keep forgetting that I have yet to say anything about Vancouver.

I went there, oh, some embarrassingly long time ago, back in the beginning of August, which may as well be two years ago the way things have gone since then. It was a good visit: I came back home refreshed and ready to back to the Pacific Northwest at any moment. It was just so cool there, so green, so different from the dusty brown summer we had here in Colorado. Obviously, I didn't move, but I was not particularly happy to come back home, from either Vancouver or Portland.

So, what did I do in Vancouver? I rode around in little boats, marveled at the water, walked around a lot, looked at trees and museums and public markets, bought a bunch of stuff because everything was really cheap, and ate a bunch of Thai food. Mostly, I just relaxed and was, for five brief days, not all depressed and anxious. That alone was worth every penny.

There were a few annoyances. While it didn't get over 75 degrees outside during my visit, my hostel room was sweltering hot. I had to take a shower before bed to wash the grime of the day off and to relax, and then I had to take another shower when I got up, because I had, in the course of the night, shellacked myself with a shiny coat of sweat. It was really amazing, in a way, how such a temperature could be achieved. My room was not the only one, apparently, as the showers were full of surly, sweaty people each morning.

Other than that, the hostel was pretty nice. It has a library, a TV room, and a nice back deck where I ate breakfast each morning. My roommates were decent. None of them were insane, like the roommate I had last year in the Santa Fe hostel. In my five days there, I had a parade of roommates. Our room was a quorum of English-speaking nations: there was a Canadian, an Australian, a New Zealander, two or three British women and me. The only annoying roommate was Tunnie, one of the British women, who kept telling all of us these really obvious, odd things. "There is a ladder that goes up to the top bunk." "There are four lockers in this room." "To get the sink to turn on, you must use the faucet." It was like she was planning to write a guidebook to our room.

I had one unusual encounter during my trip. One night, after dinner, I was walking from the hostel to Robson Street forůsomething. (See, this is the problem with writing travel reports almost two months after the fact.) Shopping was probably involved. Anyway, I was just walking down the street, staring into space, minding my own business, whatever, when I noticed this guy walking right next to me, holding a cup with a straw in it.

He looked over at me sort of sheepishly, and then said to me, "I'd like to apologize for the size of my soda," while pointing at the cup in his hand. "It's really large, and I really can't drink this much, and I just wanted to apologize about that."

What? I thought. His cup was not that large. In the range of soda sizes sold at my school's snack bar, it would have been somewhere in the middle. Compared to the 128-ounce Vats of Soda I used to see (and occasionally buy, alas) at the convenience store near my house in Portland, this was a tiny thimbleful of liquid. I was pretty puzzled by this conversation so far.

"Oh, no need to apologize," I said. "I've seen sodas much bigger than that."

"Well, I went to this restaurant for dinner," he continued, "and they gave me all of this soda in a pitcher, and I didn't want to waste it, so I got it to go, and I think my kids will want it."

Still unsure as to why I was in conversation, I replied with the astute observation, "Oh yes, kids like soda."

Then he asked me for directions to something, and I told him that I was from out of town, and thus had no idea where it was that he needed to go. We then established that he, too, was on vacation (he was from Nova Scotia, and I, as you know, am not), and we kind of chatted for a while about topics other than the soda. And then he just sort of walked off.

It was pleasantly odd, but still odd.

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