My week in Vancouver was spent with a persistent cough, congestion, a sore throat and very little sunshine to speak of. “This is Vancouver this time of year,” I heard repeatedly. I chose Vancouver knowing it would likely be this way when I scheduled my trip. Wet, cool and breezy. It was my immersion into a wonderful city. Like my moving to Chicago the first weekend of February 1999, I fell in love with the charm of the city. I appreciated everything it was at the very moment the soles of my feet hit the ground and my skin was exposed to the sub zero wind chill and damp, cold air.
In similar ways Vancouver captured my heart. The heart of this city is the kindness of its people as I heard is consistent throughout all of Canada. But in particular, the kindness of the dear souls that my best friend Cecil and I met 3 years ago in 2013 in Los Angeles. Staying in contact with our friends in the Great White North proved more worthwhile than I would have imagined that July 2013 weekend. Our Friday night included shattered wine glasses, a broken vacuum cleaner and dodging rain. Oh, and I almost forgot (for effect), hopping a car up on a curb. Of course, Ruby used the wet weather to blame this mishap. Like it never rains in Vancouver? Which tells me this is normal operating procedure for her behind the wheel. Disregard the ‘Asian, woman driver’ stereotype. She laughed at this suggestion. Alive, we enjoyed fantastic service, a very nice dinner and bottles of wine at a nice Yaletown restaurant named West Oak. After dinner we stepped back into the lounge called Pierre’s where our night continued until it was time to head home.
Awaking the next day, rested and ready to explore, Capilano Suspension Bridge was our endeavor for the day. Luckily for us and our adventure the weather was the nicest it had been all week. Partly cloudy with long periods of sunshine and about 55 degrees. While still cool, the warmth of the city and its people aid in its feeling warmer than the airborne temperatures would conclude. Arriving at the suspension bridge and watching the hordes of people continually crossing it stepping first foot onto it definitely causes a sense of trepidation. It sways, it rocks and yet, it supports! Imagine that. Once I stepped down the short 5 or 6 stairs to the bridge, I actually lost what fear of heights I had. Looking down and around at the amazing natural beauty of the river flowing below and the colors of fall surrounding us, I was immediately awash with memories of a child growing up in the suburbs of Nashville as fall would take hold. My brother and I would run into the acres of woods behind our house beginning our search for what would be the perfect Christmas tree that we would cut down each year and drag back to the house with the help of our father. Actually, our dad did most of the work but at least we contributed love to the event.
Upon leaving Capilano, we made a brief stopover at Ruby’s for Cecil and her to make some lunch for us (chicken curry on rice and veggies) and then we were on our way back to Hazel’s. Cecil and I got ready and headed to watch the Cubs vs Dodgers Game 6 at Local. The ladies were headed to a friends birthday dinner. Being with your best friend as they enjoy such a monumental victory for a team that hasn’t been to the “Show” since 1945 and without a World Series title since 1908, is magical. Tears of joy were quickly wiped wetter by the easy tasting Ale we were enjoying. I couldn’t imagine watching the game with anyone else, except perhaps my Papa Dunn, who was a die hard Cubs fan. Pulling the black & white 13″ TV set up to within about 6 – 9 inches of his face as his cataracts had dominated his sight, Papa would enjoy WGN broadcasts of the game listening to the slurring and I believe drunken voice of Harry Caray. After 6 or 7 pints, it was time to go.
We made our way to the Fairmont to meet up with the girls, seeing Aimee for the first time on our trip and to meet their close crew of friends. When cocktails and small talk had run its course it was time to head to club Cabana. The music was really on point (not sure who the DJ was that night) but Cecil and I remarked, “this is why I am glad I don’t do clubs anymore.” Not because the club wasn’t any good. We are just too old. Sorry, it’s just a sad truth. When we lived in Chicago this would have been our normal weekend routine. . . 16 years ago! Hazel, Ruby and Aimee knew the owners who were really nice gentlemen and we partied with them at a well located booth just above the dance floor. Leaving around 1:30 AM, and without any food in our stomach as Cecil and I neglected dinner at the bar, we stopped off with Ruby, John and Aimee at a cheesesteak spot. Devouring that we meandered out into the light drizzle to find a cab. This proved tough. But we were finally successful and were back to Hazel’s apartment by about 3 am. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Recollecting on my week in such a wonderful city and having such a gracious host all week in Hazel, I was humbled at the fact that I have great friends. All around the world. Vancouver is now solidified on that list. Ruby and Hazel spent the better part of their entire weekend making sure we were taken care of, enjoying the city and taking in as much as we could. Except for Sunday. The day of rest.
Cecil was flying out at 4 PM and Ruby would take him to the airport. I said goodbye to Cecil but will see him in 3 weeks for a wedding in Atlanta. Saying goodbye to Hazel, Ruby and Aimee would be more difficult as I have no idea when I will cross paths with these beautiful souls and smiles again. But I know that forever I have friends in Vancouver who can bring light to any day in my life. Their smiles, their spirit and their kindness is all I need to reflect on to brighten my day.
At 5:45 Am, Monday, I was in a cab headed to Amtrak for my train ride through the Cascades to Seattle. So long Vancouver, but it’s not goodbye.