The Swirl of City Life and the Deception of It All

So, like, HI. I thought I should just pop in and say HULLO to, well, my trusty minions. It’s the least you deserve, right?

I felt compelled to do some overtime today, which means I’m staring headlong into a six-day week. So uncool. But the gods of fate scoffed at me and handed me a broken hearing aid last week, which I’ve had to shell out $300 I had earmarked for computer upgrades. Which means I muddle through with my bogged down, overworked iBook for a few weeks longer.

Ah, well. At least the cash was around, eh? Not the ideal expenditure. I mean, how unsexy. Hearing aid repairs. Sigh. At least I can hear conversations and do my job, which is closed captioning, which means hearing conversations. Interesting circle, that.

(I’ve worn hearing aids most of my life, meaning 32 of 34 years, and most people need to be told I wear ’em, so they’re not those clunky big ones. And it gives me an interesting insight to life, I guess.)

Last night I hung with some friends who have decided that living paycheque to paycheque here in the city just wasn’t working anymore. Vancouver’s one of the most expensive places to live in North America, and the most expensive in Canada. If you’re making $90,000, it’s a great town, but under $40K means you’re saving pennies for a special occasion, if not just a box of Ramen noodles to get you by during more lean times.

(According to the 2007 EIU report on the world’s most expensive cities to live in, Vancouver is second only to New York for expensive lifestyles here in North America. For anyone doubting how cosmopolitan this town is, you got another fuckin’ thing coming. My perennial red line in my bank account is just proof of that pudding, thanks, but unlike all the other people who’ve clued in to how gorgeous and fucking awesome this town is, *I* was born and raised here. It’s in my blood. Don’t I get a discount or something? Ding the johnny-come-latelies, fer god’s sake.)

My friends had bought a house for around $300K and then flipped it within 2 years for $560K, and have fled the city to live in rural Ontario, where they’re gonna own a place 4 times the size, on 3.5 acres of land, for $250K.

Yeah, this is a great town to live in, but it really makes you question what’s important. Is it the $25+ entree dinners in swank places that have sexy names for martinis that are really, truly, just vodka served with juice for the lofty price of $9 to $12, or can you find your contentment at a cheaper price?

In chatting with ’em and their realizing how nigh the change is, from living just blocks from what’s considered the “counter-culture capital of Canada” (by Lonely Planet) and one of the coolest streets in the city, if not the country or continent, Commercial Drive, aka The Drive, where everything your heart desires (that isn’t provided by a chain store) can be found, to living in a big-ass house that’s 45 minutes from the nearest small-ish town, and a car ride from even the meagrest of necessities, I happened to mention something I’d heard once that struck home hard for them and sort of made ’em nod in agreement.

This wise dude I chatted up on a ferry back from the Sunshine Coast once said, and I’m paraphrasing and dressing it up, but along the lines of: “Cities are built for distraction. They’re there, chock full of things to do, places to be, people to see, so as to keep you from realizing just how much you’re feeling disconnected from everything you know’s important, but that you can’t name with words. It distracts you from your emptiness and your unhappiness, long enough it seems until it one day just hits you.”

So my friends are bravely heading off to a place far from anywhere, a place where, as Canadian poet Robert Service once said, “the silence bludgeons you dumb” — a place where they’ll finally find the time and solace to confront any demons they have, and unleash the happiness that hasn’t known how to come out in a busy, chaotic world like the one we’re in.

Every now and then, I’m wishing I’d be doing the same. Me, I’ve done that. I’ve lived in a small town up in the Yukon and know what community means, and harsh climates that force you to interact in new and different ways. There are days down here in the city, a city being taken apart and rebuilt for the world stage before the Olympics land on us in 2010, and there’ll be no turning back for this metropolis — 2 more years of non-stop construction everywhere the eye can see — when I just realize how soulless it all seems, how trying just keeping up to the pace of it all really does get.

Yeah, some nights the notion of living on one of the islands here on the coast, away from the madding crowd, is more than my imagination can bear. Some part of me, though, still really digs the distraction and the balance of nature this town offers. There’ll come a day, though. I’m almost certain there’ll come a day.

Meanwhile, Monday morning’s just hours away. Have an awesome week, peoples.