Missing Vancouver

During the morning, I often listen to music while I work. A few times in the last couple weeks, I have put on Sufjan Stevens’ Michigan album, and as soon as the first few chords ring out on “Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid),” wham! I’ve suddenly been transported back to Vancouver on a rainy day and am completely awash in nostalgia.

Oddly, the things I miss at these moments are not my wonderful friends or great church, the spectacular views or beautiful summers, but smaller, more mundane things: the solitary moments crossing the street in a crowd at Main and Broadway, watching the shops go by through the window on the bus, cutting through Kinsgate Mall on my walk home. Every morning Jess and I would walk together to Tenth and Main, kiss goodbye, and then she would walk down Tenth the few remaining blocks to the church where she worked and I would walk down Main to Broadway to wait for the bus to take me to school. As we went our separate ways I would typically put in my earbuds and turn on some music, usually Sufjan Stevens (hence the flashbacks now). The sounds of the street would fade away, and I would observe the gray Vancouver mornings from my secluded sonic space.

Also oddly, riding the bus was one of the parts about living in the city I grew to despise the most. I hated standing up when the bus was full; I hated that it took an hour to get to school when I could make the drive in twenty minutes; I hated when tired UBC students would slump against me as they fell asleep or, worse, when they wouldn’t stop chattering inanely. But now I just ache to ride around the city on a rainy day, watching all the different people and shops and restaurants as rain spatters on the windows.

I’m not unaware of my idealization of this experience. I remember how boring it was. I remember how wet I got standing under the (nonfunctional) awning. I remember how frustrated I’d be when the third bus would pass me by without even slowing down, chalk full of students from Burnaby and Coquitlam. I’m also not unaware of the irony that all of the melancholy songs Sufjan was singing were about the place in which I now live. I can’t help it. Nostalgia’s got me by throat. Worse, its venom seems to be working: I don’t want it to let go.

Below is the 99 (B-Line) at Broadway and Granville. I got this picture online, and it looks like the bus has been photoshopped in. Oh well. It evokes what I miss so much. You can see the purple neon lights of the Cactus Club Cafe all the way on the right. Down the street to the left (off-picture) is Chapters Bookstore. This picture was probably taken just in front of Tanglewood Books. There were at least three coffe shops on this block alone.


The inside of the 99 (the best spot was the one just behind the accordion-looking hinge, all the way to the right, next to the window, so you could look out but also stretch your legs):




6 comments so far

  1. lucashannon on

    I think it’s totally fine to be nostalgic about past things…even while remembering they may not have been the best situations at the time. :)

  2. MarilynR on

    Feelings of nostalgia….I agree with you. Often we don’t feel nostalgic until we look back. We are so ready for spring here in Kansas and today it snowed….again. But in a few days when it’s hot and windy, I’ll remember todays gently falling snow with fondness.

    On another note, I can see why you would have nostalgic feelings about Vancouver. I have them and I didn’t even live there. Glad you did.

  3. chad on

    that dang bus passed me more times than I can count because the sucker was full…you east side hippies had no idea what us west side yuppies went through just to get a ride.

  4. jeffreimer on

    Yeah, I was usually on one of those buses … standing.

  5. Vancouver Music on

    I can understand your feelings as I`m a big fan of the Vancouver culture especially the Vancouver music scene. I think that here if you are eager to take in something entirely new and unique then you are in the right place as this city is bustling with interesting events and ideas. Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts about it.

  6. Crista on

    wow – I live here and I am feeling choked up just reading that…I love that you loved it here. For some reason that solidifies my love for this place even more…Vancouver would have you three back here in a heartbeat, and we’d all be better for it.

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