January 7, 2016
The story of Isadora Gypsy Rose.
When I was seventeen years old, I decided that I wanted to experience my country, Canada, in its' entirety ; for if life were my oyster to discover, than surely Canada was my pearl. I set out to hitch-hike across Canada stopping at each province along the way until I eventually made my way to the westcoast and to Vancouver , British Columbia. It was an odyssey that should have taken me a year after which I had planned to begin my university years but instead , I ended up staying in Vancouver for three more years where I grew both my mind and my heart.
I lived with two other girls in east Vancouver before the Olympics and the eventual migrating middle-class cleaned and prettied it up. We all worked at Granville Island, a Public Market that had just opened and catered to tourists and affluent Vancouverites.
In those days, Commercial Drive, the area we lived in, was not known as it is now known as , "The Drive". It was not a trendy place at all but was spotted with struggling shopkeepers, renters, immigrants who had become first time homeowners , musicians, misfits, artists and other more hardened and sketchy components of society. There were areas of that lengthy street which were not safe for a young woman to walk alone through ; neither in daylight or by night.
The shops and shopkeepers were equally interesting and unique and there was one store in particular that one of my roommates would often pull me into as it was her favourite. The store smelt of travel and far away lands. Upon entering it , the eye would roam, perhaps seeking lamps that needed polishing in order to allow contained magic to escape and allude to promising and exciting adventures. There were aisles of draped, exotic cloth and clothing and glass cases filled with silver jewellery and talisman of travel. Sticks of incense were often burning throughout the store ; it was this heady scent that would more often than not eventually drive me out of the store and into the streets as my tolerance for its' perfumed richness was limited. My friend, on the other hand, could have stayed in that store for hours, days and perhaps even months, as she often joked about pitching a tent there so that she could have a full overnight experience, comparing the store's contents to bright stars found in an evening sky.
After three years, I left Vancouver and did not return for a full twenty years. When I returned again, I was immediately struck by how much Vancouver had changed. As a young woman , I would often refer to Vancouver as , The Rainbow Village. Vancouver in those days, resembled a small village that had been placed in a larger geographical setting. People wore bright clothing with labels that pointed to our Great White North heritage and evoked romantic images of being raised by wolves amongst stalwart Canada Geese. People were friendly and open and outdoorsy; they were small town folk dwelling in a big city setting. By comparison, I would refer to the inhabitants of Toronto, found in eastern Canada, as the Darkloaders. By this I meant that the preferred colour clothing to be worn was dark or black and those colours are what would be chosen when loading their washing machines, hence, Darkloaders.Toronto in those days, seemed much more sombre than colourful Vancouver.
But, like all little jewels and treasures the world over, Vancouver in the twenty years since I had lived there, had been "discovered" by the world and now instead of the open, bright and nubile face it had once presented to me, it was firmly fixated to those Darkloaders. Vancouver in my mind had morphed over the twenty years since I had lived there, into a herd of determined and resolute bison. It had formed an almost impenetrable circle of resistance where only the select few would be allowed to drink from the well , making it almost impossible for me to find like- minded friends.
I decided to go back to my old haunts to see if I could still find a speck of magic in the Commercial Drive area I had left all those years ago. The area had changed enormously and had become entirely unrecognizable but for a few stores that had actually withstood the test of time. Commercial Drive had become gentrified but thankfully there was still an inviting aura of allure that remained , propelled by artists and possibility.
I began walking from the furthest end of the street and as I passed each shop, I crossed off my list of memory, the store that had once been before it. And then I saw it. There is was. Still standing. Still miraculously in business over twenty years later ; my overnight camping store, my star gazing store. I took a deep breath of anticipation , opened the front door and walked in.
To be continued.
See you soon.
the critters in the cottage xo