In Which the Island Beckons

It’s the end of my vacation and I’m sitting in YVR with hours to kill. My air travel neuroses met up with my ferry neuroses and now I’m sitting here, horrifyingly punctually (read: early) wondering if I will ever convince myself that I don’t need 1hr of buffer time for each mode of transport employed. Despite my obsession with contingency time, I am about to hop onto a red eye that will see me stumble into Montreal tomorrow morning with only an hour to pre-clear and shoehorn myself into my flight to LGA. It is possible that I have over neurosed this leg of the journey in a lame attempt to compensate for the lack of flex in my connection, but let’s not think about that. If all goes to plan, I’ll be back in the office just after lunch tomorrow. If not? Well I’ll figure that out if/when I get there.

I suspect, however, that you didn’t come here to hear about how fun it is to catch flights with me, so let’s head on back to where I left you last Wednesday with a full belly and an increasing caffeine load in Vancouver.

Once I hit publish on last week’s summary, I lazed around for a bit longer in the coffee shop before setting out on foot towards the skytrain. In theory a bus could have carried me very nearly door to door, but I had the time and the weather was divine so I moseyed out onto the corner of Main and Broadway and turned east towards The Drive. I dropped into a few second hand stores, basked in the sun, and was soon at Commercial Drive entirely too early to catch the train out to Burnaby for my coffee plans in a relatively featureless industrial park. There is a pizzeria at which I enjoyed several years ago, somewhere on The Drive so I decided to kill time by seeing if I could find it. I couldn’t, but I did find a fantastic little dress shop full of the most adorable little dresses. Everything was pin-uppy and a little retro and I was in love! I might have tried on about half the store but about half an hour later I was flouncing back out onto the sidewalk having finally found a dress for the upcoming wedding! As a bonus of the highest degree, it was also on sale! I’ve heard that the dopamine response to getting something on sale is comparable to achieving orgasm. I won’t make any conclusive statements in that direction, but I can certainly see how they came up with the research idea.

Equipped with my brand new polka dots, I set off for Burnaby where I settled into a coffee shop for $1 coffee and complimentary bruschetta with a dance friend. We were both job hunting at the same time about a year and a half ago and now we’re both gainfully employed so it seemed like an excellent time to compare notes.

Caffeinated nearly beyond sense and health, I soon found myself heading back towards Granville for a delicious dinner with a high school friend. She has been adulting in all manner of fantastic forms and is about to embark on a whole new exciting, adventure with career prospects and spouse and all manner of other clever put-togetherness. As someone who lives by a policy of perennially pursuing the next best thing that happens to arise, I am always so impressed by people who seem to have a sensible forward trajectory and the lifestyle to prove it’s working. In other news, Lebanese food is spectacular and JamJar is definitely worth a visit.

As it was my last day in the city, I was (obviously) a bit overbooked, so when I bid my dinner date adieu, I was immediately met by another dancer friend for drinks and patter in a nearby bar. I am both delighted and incredibly envious whenever I hear about other people’s travel plans and this was no exception! Much as I love visiting all the folks that live in places I’ve already been, I live in a constant battle with the call of the unknown and it is only my bank account and my need for some employment stability that keeps my feet on North American soil. I’ve already pondered what likely amounts to at least 2 solid years of travel, and I’ve not the faintest idea when I might fit that in. Perhaps I ought to start buying lottery tickets.

And then, finally, it was time to get myself over the water to the island. I caught the 8am and by noon I was in Victoria filling my face with the best buddhist food in the city and catching up with yet another dance friend. She was on a bit of a tight schedule so as soon as our faces were full, we parted ways and I headed home to chill with my mom and my sweet little cockapoo, Taffy. After some snuggles with the puppy and conversation with my mom, I headed to my old teaching partner’s place for a bit of dancing and a lot of chatting and lounging in his living room. It’s interesting to dance with someone whose lead you are VERY familiar with after almost a year apart. Fundamentally it feels the same, but the layers above that foundation are ever shifting and changing. It’s a bit like returning to an old apartment after it’s been renovated by someone else. All the bones are there but nothing is quite the same.

And, as if I hadn’t had enough dancing already, I then headed out to Casablanca to check in with the salsa crowd. Being summer (and the day before Salsa Caliente was to leave for Puerto Rico) it was a bit of a low key evening, but I had excellent chats, a few fun dances, and just enough of a teaser that now all I can think about is how much I wish I was also on my way to Puerto Rico!

I have just discovered that my flight from Vancouver is delayed. My 1hr connection just contracted down to 30min.

I am now back from a mad run around the airport, hoping for standby on the flight leaving basically right now. Cross your fingers for me.

So let’s go back to happy times in Victoria. Friday morning I headed into town to visit my old haunt: Russell Books. There are plenty of new people but still a few of the old faithfuls which resulted in me spending almost an hour roaming from floor to floor catching up with people and sharing stories of New York. It was a wonderful way to start a day and was immediately followed by a quick visit to the inimitable Chocolat where I got entirely carried away reliving all of my favourite flavours.

After some seriously crazy rushing about and crossing of fingers, I managed to get wedged into an earlier flight and, as a result, am now in YUL with time to spare. This may seem like a ridiculously small thing to some of you, but I’m very proud of myself for taking the situation in hand and requesting a solution rather than just praying that I was able to make the connection in half the time. Thank you Air Canada for hearing my concern and responding so efficiently and effectively!

But back to Victoria and Friday. After stuffing my face full of artisan chocolates, I took a mosey around the inner harbour and soon found myself at the location of my old favourite sushi haunt. It’s a different restaurant entirely now, but they still do sushi so I dropped in to see. It was fine enough but the tempura dipping sauce tasted suspiciously of autumn, the rolls were made with white (rather than brown) rice, and it just wasn’t my beloved old Kaz Sushi. I suspect that there will just never be an adequate replacement for anything so thoroughly loved in those formative undergraduate years.

Once fed, I caught up with another friend over coffee before wandering home to grab my dance bag before I set out for dinner. I took a dangerous route though, and soon found myself leaving the local dance shop with new shoes and a new pair of pants. In my defence, I did have a discount card that needed to be used up. That the things which I bought were already clearance items that were not eligible for the discount should not diminish the sensibleness of my visit.

Sometime later, I found myself in Spinnakers enjoying a local saison and an absolutely stunning pasta dish. A tangled coil of handmade linguine was delicately coated in a cream sauce and topped with a tumbling pile of spinach, parmesan, and smoked oysters, and the company wasn’t half bad either! A former roommate and I caught up over our beers before wandering out into the fresh evening air to walk and chat off our rather powerful local brews. It turns out that, despite being a veritable cocktail fiend, I have entirely lost the ability to drink beer and am noticeably tipsy within a pint. My liver has apparently decided to discourage me from any reenactments of Ireland.

Having sobered up somewhat, I headed down to Swing City to see the ballroom crowd. Alas, there were no UVic dancers to be found but I had a few dances and a lovely conversation with my old ballroom dance instructor before drifting back out into the night to find a bus home.

At this point I climbed on the second leg of my flight and passed out for another precious hour of sleep before hauling myself into the office for the day. I have now woken up from another collapse of nearly four hours after work and am going to get this cracked out over my NYC pizza slices before I climb back into bed. 

Come Saturday morning, we set out up the highway towards Courtenay and another wedding. Traffic was thick before we even left Victoria, but we were unprepared for the bumper to bumper crawl up the Malahat. Though construction is stalled on the weekends, the highway still remains a lane short and so the crawl is apparently perennial. When we finally got free of the traffic, it was a butt scuttle and a half to Courtenay but we made it! I stepped out of the car just in time to walk to the ceremony site and settle in for another beautiful wedding of a wonderful woman from my undergraduate days.

The bride, Alysse is a practical, efficient type so the wedding was well planned and executed under a beautiful spreading oak tree. The reception was a gorgeous sea of greenery, wood, and subtle lights with homemade wedding cake made from the recipe that we all remember from late nights chatting on Alysse’s floor and afternoon teas at her kitchen table.

As the bridesmaid (also a good friend) shared in her toast, almost every memory of good times with Alysse comes packaged up with homemade food and love. We spent perhaps an unreasonable amount of time in her kitchen at all times of the day and night making cookies, drinking tea (from her giant tub of fancy loose leaf teas), and waiting around optimistically for fresh made baguette and other forms of culinary affection. Along with the food came solid life advice, compassion, caring, and of course all manner of silliness. I will forever have fond memories of midnight trips to the beach to dance in the pouring rain, singing show tunes on buses (I declined to join in lest the entire bus be deafened by my lack of vocal skill), and always being enveloped in the warmth of dancing, friendship, and food.

It was so lovely to see such an excellent friend marry the man she seemed so destined to be with and really, it was just so lovely to see her again, and to see her so happy. Alysse has come to visit me in China and London and I can only hope to see both her and Fraser in New York soon.

And then suddenly it was Sunday and my time on the West Coast was drawing swiftly to a close. As we drove back down to the ferry we stopped for a walk with the dog on the beach, fish and chips in Sidney, and conversation in the shade, before I bid my mom and the dog farewell and bundled myself onto the ferry. From the ferry it was the bus and the skytrain to the airport where I began the saga that you’ve seen in the italics. Combined with a screaming infant on the red eye (dear parents, if you have to fly with a child and a daytime flight is available, please consider leaving the sleeping flight for sleeping), a full, busy afternoon of work knocked me right out and now I’m just waking up and feeding myself before, most likely, crawling right back into bed.

Exhausted but so happy to have gone,
The Salsa Girl

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