Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes. I’m here. It’s dark and raining in Vancouver, of course, but the fruit trees are in bloom. I’m in St. Augustine’s, a pub on Commercial Drive, drinking a rather sour craft beer – it’s called Jerkface, how could I resist? My friend Margaret with whom I will be staying is at a class and will meet me here in about half an hour. I assumed I’d be late, that it would take me a long time to get here, but a more seamless journey I have never had.
I’d even made my cappuccino the night before, so up at 7.30, heat up coffee, eat cereal, last minute things to do, out the door by 8.10, walk to Parliament Street and the bus came a few minutes later. Bus to the subway, and the subway came a minute later. Subway to Dundas West station, get out, walk a few minutes along Bloor, onto the UP express to the airport, a 7 minute wait. A beautiful swift train, and here we are at Pearson. No lineup, get through security, drink a flat white, eat a breakfast sandwich, board. Plane takes off on time. Watch “The Shape of Water,” which I loved – we just flow into this world of imagination, leave our sceptical modern selves behind. We need to do that more often.
I watch some National Film Board shorts which are brilliant and funny, and then listen to Bach and Beethoven while reading “Lincoln in the Bardo,” George Saunders’s Man Booker-winning novel which I bought at the airport.
Can I tell you the pleasure of this – soaring through the air in a clunky tin bird while reading a magnificently imaginative and moving novel – about the death of President Lincoln’s son, narrated by the ghosts around him in the cemetery, if you can believe that – and listening to the greatest music ever written? And then, one more bit of pleasure – I got out my sandwich and ate that. Leftover roast pork with tons of mayonnaise and endive. I know how to make a sandwich.
We land, my bag arrives, the Canada Line train arrives just as I get to at the station, and the Compass card I bought the last time I was here has lots of money left. Tap, get on, get off at Broadway/City Hall, it’s raining but my umbrella is right there in one of the outside pockets, and anyway, it’s only a few minutes till the 99B arrives. I take it to the end of the line and walk across the street to St. Augustine’s pub.
Does it get easier than that? Not a single moment of heart-stopping panic, as is usual during my travels. And all this with – I must confess – a rather large suitcase. Well, I’m gone for a month! And there are gifts.
I am so so relieved to be outside my house, I the most turtle-like of creatures, unwilling to leave the warm protective space I have built for myself and huddled inside for 32 years. It’s good to be naked out in the world once in a while. Maybe I’ll meet a fishman, like Sally Hawkins did. So here goes.