One of our last days in Vancouver, the MSG and I visited the campus of the University of British Columbia. We took a bus all the way, then wandered around and checked out the library. (No surprise there.)
The library building is somewhat of an Escher painting. None of the stairwells make much sense, and there are many tiny little passages that lead you to believe you’re going to dead-end somewhere … then you don’t, but don’t know where it is you haven’t dead-ended.
Collection-wise, it’s completely impressive. Millions of volumes, and complete runs of obscure scientific journals dating back to the ‘40s. We were fascinated.
Our backs were drenched in sweat from the heat, from the closeness of the stacks, from the midday sun streaming in tempered windows. I remember putting my hand on the MSG’s neck and feeling like it might stick there forever. Not that I would complain.
When we decided to walk back, I don’t think we had a clear idea of how long the walk back would be. Later, I inched my finger across the map and found it to be just under seven miles. It both did and didn’t feel very long; the conversation was light while we looked at the gorgeous homes and made each other laugh with silly ideas. Our feet started to ache after about the third mile, and by the time we reached a neighborhood in which an excellent sushi place was rumored to be, we stopped and hopped in a taxi to head dinnerwards.
Tojo’s was every bit as fabulous as we had imagined. The view from the outdoor seating on the roof was spectacular, and the sake served in a gigantic bamboo stalk didn’t hurt, either. Our sore feet were soon forgotten as we tucked into each beautiful sushi dish. I took some photos of the skyline so I would remember each moment, which I will post here soon. (Thank you so much for the suggestion, Jon.)
During dinner, I realized how much I didn’t want to come home. Home has been a hard-won concept for me in my life; it was only after I left Chicago that I felt truly connected to it, and some places I’ve lived in I have yet to appreciate. San Francisco is my home now, but it wasn’t always, even when I lived and worked and loved and slept here. After moving into the City itself, I feel like I have a clear glimpse behind the movie set. My starry-eyed adoration has been replaced by a more realistic attachment, one that accepts the smell and the taste on the air of urine just as much as the ocean, one that is annoyed by the romantic fog just as often as delighted by it.
It is not enough to love home. One must leave it and come back to know it before it’s love.
I fell, hard, for Vancouver. Its asymmetrical architecture, lush landscaping, attention to the smallest details of efficiency are all so compelling to me. I fell in love all over again with the MSG as I watched him discover this new place. There’s not much in this world that surprises him, but he relishes the unexpected as much as I do, and the inimitable beauty of watching his face light up in interest and curiosity is one of my dearest sights.
That night in our muggy hotel room I fell asleep with my head at the foot of the bed. My heart and eyes had opened; nothing would be the same again.