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What I miss in Toronto – sky. Yes of course, I miss the ocean, but you can’t have that when you live in the centre of the country. But sky – the big wide open blue grey white cloudy sunny vast take a deep breath sky that I’m looking at right now – that we don’t get, and we should. I will try to seek out some approximation when I get home.

As I’ve written, in 1980 I was one of the founders, with among others Suzie Payne, Nettie Wild and David Diamond, of Headlines Theatre, which is still going strong. Last night, David invited me, Suzie, Nettie and Colin Thomas, who came on board slightly later, to dinner. A more interesting and lively group you could not summon anywhere – Nettie a documentary filmmaker who has shot in some of the world’s danger zones and has just finished her latest, KONELINE, about Canada’s north, to be aired at Hot Docs in Toronto in a few weeks; David, who has gone on running the company and working all over the country and the world since 1980; Colin, once an actor, now a writer and editor and for many years the theatre critic of the Georgia Straight; and Suzie, for decades one of Vancouver’s most popular actresses, in semi-retirement with her husband Steve Miller, also an actor and now a successful novelist. Wow!

We started talking at 6.30, ordered take out Thai at 8, and at 1.15 a.m. had to pry ourselves out the door. Suzie drove me home and at 1.30 a.m. we were sitting in her Prius, still talking outside my door. That’s my idea of a successful dinner party! Ideally I’d like to check in with each of those people monthly, at least. A salon. Meaning I’d have to fly back to Vancouver twelve times a year. Perhaps we’ll have to figure out some other way. But it was a huge pleasure, such a far-ranging convo.

Today I went to a THREE HOUR guided meditation with Jane Ellison at the Western Front. I’ve never done something like that for so long and was expecting to bail early – and instead, loved every minute. Breathe in, breathe out, be here now. Loved it.

I forgot to mention a few other cultural experiences: Chris and I a few days ago went to see Francofonia, by the Russian director Sokurov, an eccentric documentary about the Louvre during the war and what museums mean to us all. And last week I saw the first performance of Joan McLeod’s The Valley, about mental illness and the stressed-out police, among many other things. I’ve enjoyed everything.

Only four more days in Vancouver. Breathe in, breathe out. I’m right here, right now, looking at that sky.

A tree around the corner, with a filled in space near the roots where a gnome lives.

After getting off the little ferry last night on the way to David’s, looking back at the West End.

Today I walked by the old house where I lived in an attic apartment from 1978 to 1981 and peered in the front door window – the linoleum is THE SAME.

 And across the street, posters welcoming Paul McCartney to Vancouver next week. Be still my beating heart. My bus driver today was singing along to Help on his sound system, and when I started to sing too, he told me he had a ticket for Macca’s show. A great discussion with another huge fan, born a few decades after the Sixties. I gave him a flyer for my book, so he’ll know what it was like back then, in olden times.

Vancouver – a homeless person, not shown, who camps on the ground in front of a boarded-up storefront – but with a high quality MEC sleeping bag and a nice overnight bag. Surreal.

For your listening pleasure, a knock out performance by Canada’s K. D. Lang with some guy:



2 Responses to “sky”

  1. You are certainly maximizing your time in Van and seeing/doing a lot of varied and interesting things. Question – if you didn't have your family or job in T.O., could you live in Vancouver, now at this stage of your life?

  2. beth says:

    An interesting question, Juliet. The city is extremely expensive – there's a housing crisis because millionaires from Asia are buying investment properties and normal people are being squeezed out. (See the recent New Yorker article on the children of Chinese billionaires living in Vancouver.) So I don't know, even if I wanted to, if I could afford to live here. But it's a glorious city with an easy rhythm, people open and friendly, and a deeply healthy connection with nature – parks, green space, mountains, ocean, beaches, what's not to like?

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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