I wrote 1,300 words earlier but they don’t feel right after coffee. So, let’s try this again. [deep breath] Om…
My Friday post about leaving Vancouver is inspiring a lot of discussion, and I’m thrilled for the comments. So much is being said. I plan to mine the comments for posts in the coming weeks, because I think what’s going on in Vancouver, how the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” has become an anthem for a select class of Vancouverites, deserves a lot of discussion.
[If you’ve discovered my blog by way of others, hiya, and thanks for visiting.]
I’ve grumbled for a while that the cost of living is just ridiculous in Vancouver. Through an unfortunate series of events — bad vehicular accidents, stupid injuries, illnesses, victim of industry slowdown, over eight years — I’ve had one financial hit after another in recent years, like a boxer who keeps taking blows when he’s struggling to his feet. Well, when you’re down so long, it’s hard to see what way’s up.
I was an early financial canary in the recessionary coalmine and I’ve been hurtin’ in the bank for a long time comin’ now. The question of “how much is too much” when you’re throwing money at a way of life that leaves you an observer always on the flipside of the action starts to get a little old after two, three years of serious cutbacks and struggle.
There comes a day when there’s a line in the financial sand you can’t get over anymore, and if you don’t get gone, you just might get swallowed up. I have worried that if I stay in Vancouver much longer, that line in the sand will be crossed and I’ll no longer be able to get myself out of this situation. I’m not planning to stick around and find out.
I’ve said before about life that sometimes we just need to be uninvited from the party. Well, after so long of just getting by, and seeing my ability to afford even the meagre indulgences in life dwindle, I’ve taken the hint.
#OccupyWallStreet really amped up my thinking about what quality of life means, and what I’m willing to accept in life.
I don’t need a lot, you know. A good computer, a nice apartment, some comfortable belongings. I love the stuff I own. I want to replace very little of it, actually. And I’m grateful for what I own, too. Then there’s cooking — like the ability to use good ingredients for cooking, that’s important, and is something I can’t always do these days. Wine two or three nights a week, also important. I’d like some more kitchen gadgets and a whole enameled cast-iron cooking set, but that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Aside from that? Pretty content on the possessions front.
So, there’s not a lot I really “want” in life. It’s not about that, and never was.
I don’t feel entitled. I don’t feel ripped off. I feel occasionally bitter that simple things I used to enjoy — dining out, concerts, games — are out of my means now, because life keeps getting more and more expensive but my salary stays the same, a common theme I hear from others. But, then, I don’t think often about restaurants, games, or concerts anymore, so they’re not really a factor any longer, either.
So, if I’ve made my peace with the idea that I don’t go out, and that’s sort of my level of expectation in life, and I’ve lowered my standard of living and simplified my expenses, and I’ve caught up with all my bills, and I’m on top of my finances that way, and I still can’t live “up” to my now-adjusted-and-simpler standard of living, well… something has to change.
Other people don’t have the same connection to place. I understand this. Some thrive to pick up and go. But I’m a sticker. I love my home. I’ve lived in 5 places in 38 years, with two of them alone compile more than 30 years of my life — my first home and my most recent apartment. I don’t like being in places for a short period of time. I want to know people, haunts, secrets, and more.
But it’s really hard to look around this place — a rainforest with world-class mountains, the Pacific Ocean, culture, great food, rivers, and more — and think “Yeah, I can do better than this.” Leaving doesn’t exactly sound like a step up when looking at everything around me here in Vancouver.
Then I remember it’s all dragging me down ‘cos that awesome comes at a price, a price too high for the payin’, and leaving’s the only thing I can do to break my downward spiral.
So, it’s a really heavy heart that has made these choices.
But now that the choices have been made, I’m excited about the change. This is gonna rock, you know?
I love “learning by experiencing” in a new place, just like getting to know a lover. Every day it seems there’s some new thing to discover, and that’s just a fantastic way to live.
As a writer, I’ve long since lost my fire within. There’s something missing inside me, and I think being able to get up and see Difference around me every morning might be the thing to fire me up again.
Besides all that, it’s a monumental time in my life, and I’ve known that as I’ve waded through the deciding of late. It’s the fork in the road — do I choose a city career or do I roll the dice on my writing dreams?
By choosing to get out of Vancouver, I’m telling myself I deserve more, I’m asserting that I won’t settle for less. I’m putting a value on my time, what I’m willing to waste on a commute, versus giving back to myself via writing and other passion-based endeavours.
I’m proving that I’m meant to live a slower life. I’m living up to my ethics and finally making the switch to a lifestyle where I can mostly walk and cycle, and stop leaving a big-ass carbon footprint.
I get to continue being surrounded by arts, culture, and open-minded people. I’m affirming that a life spent pursuing greater creativity, and living closer to people who inspire it within me, is something that’s critical to my nature.
I know, down deep, that acting on all those values in this way is something that will resonate and ripple for me, and for a long time to come.
I’m being forced to move by today’s economies, but that doesn’t make me a victim. It makes me someone with my eyes wide open, who’s choosing to turn it into a opportunity for positive change.
I might still be on a tight budget as I make my way to where I’m going, since most of the costs of living are somewhat similar to hear, save for rental and the ridiculous commutes, but it’s a really exciting time to be running down a new dream, whatever the price.
And so it begins.
Yes, I plan to continue blogging in Victoria. Yes, I will write about the experience of moving toward the big day. Yes, some will be panicky and insane. Yes, I will address some of your great comments in postings to come. Yes, my head may explode before Christmas at this rate. And, yes, it’s kinda fun. Stay tuned for more. Thanks for reading.