It’s good to be home.
The view from my apartment. I actually live in a fairly nice neighbourhood, but it’s a nice neighbourhood that from certain angles (including my front window) looks charmingly dingy. As the weather gets warmer, and the immediate pressure of thesis and paper deadlines has temporarily waned a little, I’ve been doing a lot of walking around the side streets and alleyways of the east side. I like walking. You can see and hear and smell things you’d miss otherwise. Plus, it lets me catch up on my podcasts.
I’ve been an East Vancouverite for almost two years now, though I haven’t explored this side of the city nearly as much as I’d like. Vancouver is not remotely an old city, but wandering through the relatively older neighbourhoods around me is an interesting study. If you look close, you can see the marks left by successive ethnic and demographic waves — an old porno theater just out of sight of some new condo developments, a hidden decades-old sign for Japanese lessons on a clothing boutique, or the Jimi Hendrix shrine between Chinatown and the Skytrain station. It’s also given the neighbourhoods really distinct characters. As a Main Streeter, I’m only a ten-minute walk from Cambie and a ten-minute walk from Fraser, but there’s no mistaking the condos and slick Hong Kong cafes of one for the subdivided Edwardian three-storeys and cramped Vietnamese phở shops of the other.
I’ve managed to stay pretty disengaged from the olympics — I have a thesis to write, dammit! Plus, the olympics combine sport and crowds — two things I’m hardly a huge fan of. But hey, if people want to have their olympics, I’m cool with that. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s resulted in some much-needed infrastructure, like building the new Canada Line, which finally makes it easier to take transit downtown than to walk (at least when the olympics aren’t on).
It *has* resulted in other changes to the city that I’m less happy about — like turning Granville over to the bridge-and-tunnel skanks and assholes — but I’m at least glad I live in a city that is dynamic, and that *is* changing. Vancouver still feels to me like a project that’s not quite done yet. It hasn’t become what it’s going to be. I don’t know, ultimately, what the impact of the olympics will be on the city, but it feels like part of that process.