(This photo was taken by me in 2015 one evening after work in New Westminster, BC)
To Write Is An Adventure (Pt 1)
Writing In The Mountains (Pt 2)
Balancing Writing & Travel (Pt 3)
Living The Dream In Banff (Pt 4)
When Traveling Gets Dark (Pt 5)
A Romance In The Mountains (Pt 6)
The Grass Is Always Green (Pt 8)
My first job in Vancouver was in Gastown – it was the perfect way to get started in the city of my dreams. The waterfront area is really nice and the sky train station was across from the building I worked in. On my first day of training, I was about to be late, so I jogged toward the entrance. I passed by a guy who was dressed sharply in tan pants, designer shoes, and a fitted shirt. I remember vividly how he looked. We both met at the elevator and he laughed at how stressed I looked.
“First day at the new job?” he asked with a smile.
“Yes,” I said as we stepped into the elevator. “I’m working at Impark.”
“Me, too,” he said brightly. “I thought I was going to be late, too, but it looks like we’re just on time.”
“I’m Sara by the way.”
He ended up being one of my best friends and we still talk to this day. I love that the first person I met in Vancouver is still in my life.
Oh, when the rains finally came in October it was glorious. I’d waited decades to finally experience the lovely coastal rain. I loved how Vancouver looked as the rains poured over the city and cast a foggy mood over the mountains. I felt so happy when I could use my umbrella. It’s like a fashion statement!
After work, I’d often walk through Gastown and admire the gorgeous lights at night and work on a story at the Trees Coffee café. It was so cozy in there and I’d get a lot of work done before taking the sky train back to Burnaby. The mornings were magnificent. The sunrise would cast a pinkish glow over the North Shore mountains. I’d smile happily as I looked at the amazing sight through the window. Coming from a smaller city, it was the most impressive commute view of my life. My experience in Vancouver was better than I imagined – and my standards were pretty high.
I really enjoyed the weekend coffee dates with my new coworkers. We all got along so well and it was refreshing getting to know them.
Unfortunately, I got fired from my job just before my 3 month probation finished. It was devastating at the time, because they’d given me a good review a couple of days before the head manager – a lady who never seemed to like me from the beginning – invited me into her office and fired me. I was just getting started and didn’t have any money saved – $4,000 goes quick when you settle into a new place. I spent Christmas and new year’s eve of 2014 in Vancouver since I’d been fired right after the holiday. It was a mild Christmas that year – sunny with no snow. I grabbed a holiday beverage from Starbucks and wandered over to the beach at English Bay. It was lovely. I Skyped my family a little later so I still got to see them. That Christmas was peaceful and quiet – what I really needed at that time.
New Year’s Eve 2014 was amazing. I bought a ticket to see Steve Aoki & Tiesto perform. It was risky spending $80 on a concert when you’d just lost your job, but I was willing to take that risk. I had the opportunity to dance all night to DJs I really enjoyed and forget about my job issue for a night. It was a magical show. Both Tiesto and Steve Aoki had performed in Calgary before hopping in a jet to Vancouver. The energy that night was amazing.
After the fantastical rave night, it was back to the reality of needing to find a job. I will tell you that January is *the* hardest month to find a new job. You usually won’t hear back until the end of the month or in February. Many companies go through a slow phase after the holidays so they don’t focus on hiring new people. I had to sell my laptop and iPod to help pay for a part of the rent. My landlords were getting anxious about me not being able to pay. I’d paid successfully for 3 months prior, so it should have been obvious I was just waiting for a job, but I also understood their worry. It was sad selling my laptop, because it took away my ability to write stories at a café and promote them on social media. I remember crawling into bed and staring at the wall after it was gone. It was the vessel for my writing.
I saw the silver lining in the situation, as unfavourable as it was. At least I had things to sell. The hardest part was going hungry. I’d feel so weak, but I wasn’t going to let myself give up. One setback wasn’t going to make me give up on my dream. I knew that a new job would come.
The local library had computers you could use for an hour, so I would hop on the sky train and write for a focused session. What began as a tragedy became an opportunity to grow. I ended up writing the entire story of The Suicides at that library. I would listen to Three Days Grace as I wrote and completed one chapter each session. As spring came, February blossoms arrived and I was amazed that such a thing happened in Vancouver. I love how mild the winters are on the west coast in Canada.
In February, I had an interview at a sales office in New Westminster, BC – a place I hadn’t had the chance to explore yet until my interview. I loved the downtown energy of the little city and with my experience, the owner of the company gave me the job that same day. It was tough at first waiting for the first pay cheque. I was behind in rent and still needed to eat and pay my phone bill. I couldn’t afford transit with all of my funds tied up, so I would walk up the hill then hop on the sky train (This was before they closed the gates, so I got away with it).
I hate admitting this, but one day I was hangry (I only had enough food for breakfast and that was it) and a coworker was telling me that I needed to eat healthy in order to balance out my exercise.
Frustrated, I cried “I know! I’m just broke and hungry!”
The owner overheard me and the next day, he brought in a full breakfast for everyone. It was kind him to do that, knowing I had too much pride at the time to ask anyone for help. Later on at lunch time, one of the girls took me aside and told me that the pizza guy across the road would happily give me a free pizza.
“You’re a pretty girl. Just ask him. Watch this.”
I followed her across the road and she asked nicely for a free pizza slice then gestured to me. “My friend here just got a job and she’s hungry, too. Could she have a slice?”
He nodded with a smile and gave us both a slice with some little bread sticks. I have never done anything like this in my life and I was shocked at how easy it was. When I envisioned my life out west, I wasn’t expecting to ever be in this situation. It’s amazing how willing some people are to help when you need it. I asked him one more time a day later, because I was hungry and pay day was still a day away. When I had more money later on, I returned to the pizza shop and gave him a big tip.
As I eased into the new job, I enjoyed the role and started earning commission. I’ll never forget the first cheque that I made $800 in one week. That was epic for me.
This is a photo of me from that time. I was so happy. I loved the mirror in the guest room so I’d use it to take outfit shots.
As I caught up on bills, I was able to spend money on new outfits, makeup, and have my hair touched up. Me and the two other blonde girls at the office would have little fashion shows as we walked into the office in the morning – we’d compliment each other’s outfits, hair, or makeup. The two brunettes thought we were sort of silly, but that was a fun time for us. We’d all been in similar situations prior to landing that job and we were happy to be thriving. The owner would sometimes give us cash bonuses which was kind. There was a nice buzz in the small office, especially in the summer. We hung out after work sometimes and the hours were great. I loved that there was a cute boutique right next to our office, too. It was amazing eye candy to help start the day.
I’d sometimes go to New Westminster on my days off to walk along the quiet boardwalk. Once I saw Davey, one of the guys who worked at the office, while I grabbed a coffee in New West one morning and we made plans to see a movie. I valued that we met organically like that after I’d tried online dating a few times. I never tried dating apps prior to moving to Vancouver, because I was always either in a relationship in Ontario or consciously taking a break from dating. In Alberta, there were always guys around (almost too many guys!). With Vancouver being a big city, many people are busy, focused on building their career, or surviving the expensive lifestyle, so it’s less likely to meet someone you’d be interested in by chance. I met a few guys through Tinder (some only wanted sex, but I learned how to recognize the type). I was shocked at how unwilling these guys from the apps were to work through anything or build a real relationship. They’d love bomb me for a few weeks then pull back. One mild disagreement and they were gone. I took a break from online dating to focus on writing and work, so meeting Davey by chance that weekend seemed like a step in the right direction.
Davey ended up being my movie buddy for a while. At first I had a crush on him, but as time went on, his inability to choose between me and another girl turned me off. No woman wants a guy who isn’t strong enough to choose her. He even admitted to wanting both of us at the same time. It was funny when he’d go to the variety store or the liquor store, people would ask him where I was if I wasn’t with him. I was happy to keep him as a friend, but the moment I lost feelings for him was when he said he was going to cut the other girl out of his life so he could be with me. It was awkward, because I thought we’d established that we were just friends at that point. I ended up having to distance myself from him. I will always remember how much fun we had checking out different movies after work, but our mis-matched feelings did the friendship in. Sometimes you have to seize the opportunity to be with someone while they’re available; if you wait too long or stall, they’ll move on and the chance never comes again.
In the summer of 2015, I visited my family in Ontario. We booked two nice stays at Grand Bend and Port Stanley. We’ve always loved the great lakes. My favourite great lake in Ontario is Lake Erie in Port Stanley. Especially in the evening, it’s so calm and quiet. Most people go during the day to tan and experience all the festivities, but at night it’s a calm haven. My sister and I tried our hand at skipping rocks. It was a beautiful visit. My sister and dad also pitched in together to help me get a new MAC laptop. I was so happy to be able to write again at cafes.
My parents then visited me in Vancouver during the early fall. It was so cool to be able to show them a few of my favourite spots in Vancouver. First Mom flew in then my dad joined us a day later after a work trip. I was impressed with how she took a bus from Metrotown to Stanley Park and explored a big chunk of the area while I was working. For dinner, we ate at a Japanese restuarant by English Bay. I also showed her New Westminster around where I worked and we went for dinner by the market after I was finished with my shift. She enjoyed taking the sky train around the city with me. When my Dad came, he rented a car so we drove around to different spots. We went to White Rock, Granville Island, New Westminster, and English Bay over the two days they were there. They understood why I liked the city so much after seeing it with their own eyes.
It was sad to see them leave when it was time for them to go home, but it was nice they flew out to see me and got to experience some of the best parts of Vancouver.
The above photo was from the restaurant we were eating at for dinner. It gave us the perfect view of the sunset. Afterwards, we went to the beach and enjoyed the remainder of dusk before it became dark.
As for the job, all good things must come to an end. The great energy it had dwindled when the other office joined our office and there were too many people. I didn’t like the energy of the people from the other office. The politics started to become unbearable, so I left at the end of the year. I will always be grateful for that job opportunity, because it allowed me to thrive in Vancouver for the first time. Sometimes you need to leave a place if it’s not matching your energy/goals anymore, but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss those good times. If I could go back, I’d make sure I bought a round of drinks for the two girls I hung out with during the earlier days at the office. You don’t always mesh well in certain workplaces, but I felt so comfortable and happy there.
I secured a new job for January 2016 and flew home to be with my family for the holidays. It was a very nice Christmas and they seemed to be more comfortable with the fact that I was happy in Vancouver. I think sometimes family worries they’ll never see you if you move away, but I was happy to always stay in touch with them. I’d text my sister everyday and text my parents frequently.
As I flew home back to Vancouver in the new year, I was excited to start a new job in 2016 and write more stories.
I love your beautiful photos and the gorgeous stories that went with them, Sara. You have a way about you that brings joy and kindness out in others. I loved hearing about meeting Dustin, about your boss who brought “everyone” breakfast the next morning because you were “hangry” and about your sister. You look so beautiful in that photo of you in the mirror and I love how you reflect on your life and your surroundings. Your blogs are a wonderful window into your colourful life. Sending you big hugs xx
Aw thank you so much for your kind words. 🥺 I’m really happy that I bring you joy and kindness. 😊
It was such an amazing year overall and the hunger preceeded such an amazing time of my life. My boss was a very nice person. I’m glad you’re enjoying reading about these memories. I’m really happy all of these things happened.
It sounds lie an amazing adventure with some great highs and some daunting challenges. It great that you got though it all 🙂
Thank you so much. 😊