My routine was ideal, really. I was working from home, lived in Gastown, my room was great, and I was close to so many trails and convenient things. I’d go for many walks at sunset by the water or rainy strolls in Stanley Park. I used to dream about living in Gastown and close to the seawall; it was amazing to be right in the heart of the city.
I wrote *and* published three stories during my time living in Gastown – Shepherd Girl, The Peasant Woman, and Inspiration. My room was lovely and had a view of one of the old fashioned lanterns I always admired when I’d visit the area in previous years. There were so many amazing cafes to write in – and I’d write right in my room, too. I feel such a keen sense of nostalgia just thinking about it now. It was an amazing time of my life.
Below is a photo of my final and most recently published fictional story:
In the spring, I got to see some amazing live shows once the pandemic restrictions lifted. That was the bonus of living close to downtown. I could walk right to the venues or take a short bus ride. What is so special about these live shows is that these are artists who have heavily influenced my work. I’d often listen to Rezz and Slipknot while writing my books.
It was amazing seeing two such iconic musical influences live and getting lost in the music.
The outfit below is what I wore to see Slipknot. I was so excited!
The only problem is my job was cutting my hours soon. I had my room for a great price. $850/month is great even for a micro condo, but with my income it was still a big chunk of money. I enjoyed it as much as I could and I would never forget how nice it was living there. It was a literal dream come true.
While my routine was perfect, the personal/romantic sphere of my life wasn’t quite on the same level. I’m someone who is very selective over who I spend my time with, yet I was continually ending up with the wrong guys (or the right guy at the wrong time). One even introduced me to his close friend and his close friend’s wife – they loved me – yet he supposedly wasn’t ready for a relationship. He wanted all the benefits of a relationship without the label which is such a turn off. On paper, he seemed like a great match, but in real life he was very aggressive when it came to inviting himself into my room. I knew I deserved better so I ended things.
The only thing I could do to arm myself against players was to not drink on anymore dates. A coffee and a walk is a low key first date idea. Some women scoff at this, believing they deserve the star treatment from day #1, but I think something with lower stakes allows you to get to know someone better. Just because a guy takes you out to nice places, it doesn’t mean he respects you. In fact, paying for pricey things up front is probably a sign he’s a player. A coffee and a walk is more representative of how they would treat you in a relationship when you’re out together. When you’re walking around the city, how do they treat strangers, do they make cruel comments about the homeless, are they concerned about your safety, do they listen to your opinion or talk over you?
I remember watching the sunset at Crabb Park one evening and a jet flew overhead. I’ve always loved the sight of planes flying to and from Vancouver. I feel nostalgic when planes fly into the city – it reminds me of how happy I was when I first came to Vancouver. I love the city so much – it was my living dream and always will be. That said, with my job not giving me enough hours, I needed more stability. You can’t predict how other people will act, but you can plan how much money you can save in a summer if you focus on getting ahead. I couldn’t seem to save anything at my lovely Gastown apartment – no matter how many low spend challenges I did.
After landing a housekeeping job in Whistler, I packed up and bought a bus ticket. I went to English Bay for my final evening in Vancouver. I was sad to leave, but I knew I’d be back again in a few months. I hopped on a bus with my bags and moved north to the mountain town. With rent only being $325 per month, I was planning to save a lot of money.
As I took the charter bus to Whistler, I messaged Alexei to let him know of my plans. I told him that I still think of that amazing summer we had sometimes. He said he was recently just thinking about our time together as well. It made me smile. He wished me the best on my new journey in Whistler. I’m glad I met him and got to share some of Vancouver’s magic with him. It’s nice to have an ex that you can keep in touch with sometimes.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this new staff accommodation – since it was so cheap, I mentally prepared myself to be greeted by a bunch of extroverted people who wanted to go out every night. I was pleasantly surprised that not only was the place in a gorgeous wooded area with mountain views everywhere, the people were chill and respectful of boundaries. There are no parties allowed in the house and the managers ensure that employees have a healthy work-life balance. After having a bit of a nightmare experience living in Banff the first time around, it was nice to know you could feel safe in your own home. It turned out to be an amazing deal for what felt like a cottage getaway in the mountains! On top of that, we had some BBQs over the summer.
The job was one of the best ones I have ever had. After working from home for over a year, it was nice getting out and chatting with coworkers. I enjoy the flow of housekeeping in a resort area, and the job works for my introverted nature where I can come in, have a little chat, grab coffee, then start my routine. The managers were all friendly and nice to work with – I’ve worked at a lot of jobs and I really feel it when I work for good people.
Aside from being able to save some money and enjoy my job, Whistler is a gorgeous place with a wealth of scenic trails that range from easy to difficult. The longest hike I went on was up to Rainbow Lake – it took us about 5 hours for the round trip and the scenes were breathtaking. I went with three other people and it was a lot of fun. Being someone who normally hikes alone, it was awesome sharing all the sights with other people who appreciated them.
You can check out my photos from the mountain hike here!
One of my favourite moments in Whistler was sitting on the dock at the lake with my roommate. Even though she was a lot younger than me (She was 19), we got along pretty well. We’d talk about almost everything and we’d bounce things off one another. I remember telling her about some of my dating experiences in Vancouver since we were on the topic of relationships. Where you live can have such a huge influence on how people view dating and relationships.
“Yeah you’re not going to find someone to marry in Vancouver,” she said. “The guys there don’t want to commit. It’s where you go if you want to be independent and work on your career… I’ve met guys in their 50’s who have brand new houses and boats yet they still don’t want to settle on one person.”
“I really love Vancouver though,” I said, still amazed that I hadn’t found another young soul who loved Vancouver as much as I did. “It’s my dream city. I got to write so many stories there … and it has everything.”
“Yes, but if you are ready to settle down …”
What’s sad is she got into a bit of trouble with the management since she wasn’t a reliable employee and she started inviting her boyfriend into the room at night. I didn’t care that much, but everyone was upset she’d do that to me. When they fired her, it was really awkward and she thought I ratted her out – which I didn’t. Me and one of my other roomies helped her move out. It was sad it ended like that, but she was a key part of my Whistler experience. I hope she’s well and happy wherever she is now.
Since my job was physical, I saw a chiropractor who was right across from the hotel I worked at. I loved how her office was set up as more of a spa – candles and aromatherapy created a calming ambiance. I found my sessions with her to be therapeutic and she was very encouraging. What’s really amazing is that I was getting numbness in my hands (which was scary) and she told me it was likely because of the pinched nerves in my neck. Ever since I had a car accident in my early 20’s I’ve had bad flare ups in my neck. She was able to gently massage and adjust those tight spots and the numbness in my hands has been gone ever since. When she found out I was leaving, she asked me to come visit again. I consider her to be a friend.
I also got to experience three different spas while I was there. I used to go to spas a lot in my late teens and early 20’s. I missed that part of myself. While I spent a lot of money on my hair and skincare in Vancouver, I didn’t ever treat myself to the spa. Whistler was the perfect place to reconnect with my love of relaxing spa days. When you think about it – a massage or spa treatment isn’t much more than a night out drinking.
While I was in Whistler working, going on nature walks, and writing at cafes, I had a lot of time to reflect. I missed my amazing single life in Vancouver, but I realized how much I wanted stability. This was proven when I went on two dates with a couple of guys who lived in Whistler. I thought I might as well try it out while I was there – maybe I’d meet a nice nature boy who genuinely wanted a girlfriend. Both of the guys admitted they were there because of the transient nature of the place – they loved getting to be with all the different women who passed through from season to season. I was so grossed out by those two experiences that I didn’t date anyone else after that.
My time in Whistler in 2022 was like a total turnaround from my time in Banff in 2014. I was definitely a “girl” figuring herself out back then. This time I was a woman focusing on saving money and sticking to my choice not to party so I could get ahead. I did want to go dancing a few times, but weirdly enough when the mood did hit me it never worked out. I figured if I was going to be there for a short time, I might as well save as much as I could. It was cool to see how much money I could actually save if I put my mind to it. Once I was back in Vancouver and settled, I could go out dancing one night.
While it was gorgeous in Whistler, it didn’t have the same free and open energy that Vancouver had. Some places just fit you better – my nervous system feels most at ease in the Vancouver area. Vancouver really feels like home for me. The thing is, home can become a little isolating when no one is excited to welcome you once you’re back. I’d entertained myself in Vancouver so well, but when was I going to meet someone to build a life with out there?
At the back of my mind, a little poem whispered to me throughout the day as I cleaned hotel rooms.
You really love the west coast world
But don’t forget where you are from
While you may prefer rain over sun
Every time you fall for someone out west, they run
What happens when you really need someone?
Maybe home isn’t a place, but a person
Don’t forget where you are from
When I moved west, my identity shifted to being a west coast girl. As a Vancouver local for nearly a decade, I’d earned the title. I’ll always have a west coast heart – I believe I was made for those beautiful lands in and around Vancouver. However, I had to realize the reality of the types of men I was meeting there. Was I becoming that person who wanted to start settling down? Yes. I realized I was. I published 16 books, found my independence, overcame depression, stayed in shape, enjoyed nature, and found contentment in a lovely city. I really wanted to build a life with someone who was on the same page as me.
With every new book release in Vancouver, I would always say, “It sure would have been nice to share this with you.” I would be referring to the last guy I fell for who was always conveniently gone by the time I achieved something worth sharing with him.
I suppose I wasn’t meant to share my writing and west coast journey with anyone in particular. It was meant to be my journey. I made some nice little memories with others here and there, but the best parts were always by myself.
Vancouver had given me everything I needed at the time I moved there – a reason to live and then thrive. It also gave me the space to heal, grow, and create. Now that I’d thrived in my dream city, what was next? Whistler was amazing, but it didn’t feel like the right place for me.
One morning, I woke up from a dream where I was watching a pretty pink waterfall cascade over a cliff.
“Remember how important family is,” the waterfall sang.
I woke up with a keen urge to visit home soon. Later that day, I received a call from my dad that one of my cousins passed away. It was from a drug overdose. 43 years old. He was homeless and struggling with an addiction he’d been trying to fight for years. I remember how he was always one of my cool older cousins growing up. I’d see him sometimes at family reunions, but he was always the one who got into trouble. He’d been around the block a few times, but we always thought he’d find his way. Now he was gone. It was earth shattering for the whole family because his older brother also passed a few years ago by suicide. It was heart breaking knowing I’d lost two of my cousins in their early 40’s. I imagined my cousin begging on the streets and couldn’t stop crying. Every time a homeless person has asked me for change since then, I’ve given them something if I have it. That could have been my cousin. It was my cousin.
While I often felt anxious to leave Vancouver and go home, now I was starting to feel a little anxious about being so far away from home for too long. Over time, life was showing me that it was getting close to the time to move back to Ontario – this is something I never imagined would happen. I suppose that is what growth does to you.
By the end of the summer, I’d saved enough money to leave Whistler. Living with other people was getting to me and I missed my dream city. After staying at the same dorm Air BNB in Burnaby I was at before, I found a micro suite right in China Town. It was in East Vancouver – a place I’d lived in for years. I’d grown to love the east side of Vancouver. It has so much character.
For my final chapter of living in Vancouver, I was going to savour every moment that I could. What is so special about my new place is that it gave me an epic view of the city. I never made it to a swanky high rise suite, but I did get the amazing view of my dream city. I would look out the window and sigh, remembering both my earlier days and my recent days in Vancouver. How lucky and blessed I am to have lived such an amazing life on the west coast.
“A detour in your new life” – Broken Bells
Cool fact: This song played a lot at a café in Whistler when I’d go there to blog! It had such a dreamy road trip vibe with melancholic undertones. It’s been one of my favourite tunes ever since. Thank you, Whistler!
“I published 16 books, found my independence, overcame depression, stayed in shape, enjoyed nature, and found contentment in a lovely city.” That’s what I call success. Congratulations! The photos from the hike are just gorgeous. I would like to go ski in Whistler. Our daughter was there skiing. We are soon going to Breckenridge in Colorado to ski. My son used listen to SlipKnot and Rammstein and some other metal groups. Anyway, thank you for the interesting reading.
Thank you. 😊
Yes Whistler is very nice like Vancouver.
Colorado should be really nice for skiing too!
Slipknot is great and their new stuff just rocks.
Interesting and thought-provoking read! We really do feel a certain connection with places I think. Though I’ve spent most my life in the UK, I was born in Kitchener Ontario, and as part of a Canadian holiday I stopped in Toronto for a few days. I felt instantly at home. I’ve wanted to visit Vancouver for a long time though and this post reminded me I should!
Toronto is really nice too. It’s funny you mention that because I felt that way when I went there too! Vancouver is simply a dream. I hope you enjoy it when you go!