“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.” – Love Actually
photo from Wikipedia
How I love and hate airports. It’s always the beginning and the ending of something. The possibility for adventure is endless. What excitement awaits me at my destination? What if I changed my flight and instead went to Montreal or Halifax or Paris? But then there’s the all the waiting around, sitting for long periods of time, and breathing stale, recycled air. Sometimes I wish I was Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie and could just blink and be somewhere else, without all the commuting time.
I’m often in airports alone and I always find myself reflecting on my life, where I’m going and where I’m coming from – in both the immediate and larger senses. It was hard to leave behind the beauty of the outdoors and the life on the road to come back to a city I am not too fond of right now. What is keeping me in Toronto? The airport makes the nomad in me is cry and plead for change.
But it also makes me so grateful that I have the opportunities that I do: that I live in a country that I can drive and camp safely across; that as a woman I can travel alone without fear; that I was brought up in a family that had both the means and the encouragement to start my love of exploration.
With all this reflecting and my long day of travel, I complete forgot about the blog, to ask someone about their first kiss, and almost didn’t remember to write (I believe this is the first time that has happened in the seven months I’ve been doing this). I will have to include a double bill of first kiss stories tomorrow. Stay tuned…
My last night in British Columbia
Alas, my journey is coming to an end. I fly back to Toronto tomorrow and leave the beautiful mountains behind me. Although I love the culture Toronto has to offer, I miss dearly the proximity to outdoor activities and beautiful landscapes that is present everywhere in the west. I wish I could have it all. The nomad in me is getting restless. Perhaps it’s time for a move…
The Vancouver sushi I will be missing
For now, though, I concentrate on the book, finishing up first kiss stories and preparing myself for the difficult task of being vegan next month. My story today comes from Isabelle working at Saje in Kitsilano. Isabelle is a short-haired thin woman in her late fifties, obviously passionate about natural products and her job selling them. When I mentioned my project, there was a pause and then a moment that had we been a cartoon, a lightbulb would have appeared over Isabelle’s head.
Isabelle and her vow never to kiss again…
“I remember my first kiss! Isn’t that funny? It was so long ago. We were playing spin the bottle and young, very young. I don’t remember his name. Of course I knew the boy I wanted to kiss. Instead I spun and the first boy that kissed me had braces. I remember it being all metal. Why would anyone want to do that?! My mom said I never wanted to kiss a boy ever again!”
I asked Isabelle if she told her mom right away. “She was right there!” Isabelle said. “That was a long time ago. They wouldn’t leave us alone.”
The woes of staying in a hostel…
The communal shower (two for all the women of the floor) is the size of a refrigerator, that has a door that opens into the toilet stall directly across and I am scared to touch the walls of. There is no room or place to put your clothes to change in to, so you either have to walk through the bathroom naked (in which the main door is always open, so inevitable some guy will be walking by in the hall as you walk past the open door to get your clothes and give him a show), or you have to hang your clothes on the door of the shower and have them get wet.
And that is the least of my worries. Besides the drunken twenty-year old Aussies walking around the hallways yelling at each other at all times of the night, there is the thumping music of the bar below and the fact that there are always people coming and going from the dorm. To top it all off, last night I came back to the hostel to find some girl sleeping in my bed, in the sheets that I had slept on. She had moved all of my things that I had set out on the bed (including my water bottle, book, pen and paper) to the upper bunk and got cosy in my dirty sheets. So weird. I have stayed in a lot of hostels and never has that happened to me before.
Luckily, though, nothing of mine has been stolen. And it is really cheap. Not cheap enough for me to want to stay another night in the dorm, though – I’m splurging on a private room for my last night in Vancouver.
With the grime of the hostel on my skin and a full day of walking around, I also splurged on a prime rib dinner (getting prepared for vegan month starting Saturday) at The Keg where I used to work five years ago. It was very odd to go back in there after all these years. My first kiss story today comes from the bartender there.
Kristen’s first two kisses – in the same night!
“I was in grade ten and I was at a party. It was what it was like when you’re at a party. I won’t say there was drinking, but you know… I had a crush on this guy I was friends with. We were talking outside and I kinda told him I had feelings for him and he just went in for the kiss. I had butterflies. Then later on this other guy that I didn’t talk to that much out of the blue kissed me too!”
Life can’t get any better than this. I love Vancouver sushi. And it is so great spending some ‘me’ time wandering the city and reminiscing about when I used to live here. I went to many of my old haunts, did a bit of shopping on Granville Island, and lots of sushi. And it’s warm here!
Rita (number two) from Germany’s first kiss
I woke up Marguerita (Rita for short) when I entered my hostel room at 2 pm, slamming the door into the lockers behind it and flipping on the lights. I didn’t notice her there on the top bunk until she sat up in her bed. I apologized and turned off the lights, but then somehow managed to keep being clumsy and making noise. “I should get up,” she said. “I didn’t sleep last night, but I have only two days here. What’s your name?” After introductions and stories about both our adventures to get here (she’s from Germany and is on a month-long trip across parts of the United States and Canada), I brought up my blog.
“I was 14. We were going to a party. You had to be 18, but I wore lots of makeup. It was with a boy who was 15. My friend said all the girls wanted to be with him. He looked good. We were sitting on the floor together, then we were dancing. He just pulled me and kissed me. It wasn’t very nice. I was like ‘yay, I was kissed’, but it wasn’t romantic or special. Before I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. Then it happened and I was worried it would always be that way. It was wet all around my mouth.” Rita made a circle with her hand to show it was wet about an inch circling her lips. “I thought why would people like to kiss then? Not very nice. But I realized when I got older that it gets better!”
On my way to Vancouver, but first one more first kiss story from Gibsons. Rita is from Ontario, visiting family on the sunshine coast for a few days. I’m a sucker for these romantic stories…
Gibsons waterfront in a break from the rain
“This is the best first kiss ever in my entire life. I was running a social group for lesbians in Etobicoke and Mississauga. We had an event at a karaoke bar. I spent the evening meeting new members and greeting old members. I just finished singing a song with friends. When I got down, there was Jan sitting at bar. I asked her if she wanted to join Women of the West End? Jan asked me ‘what do you guys do’? I explained we got together for games, social events. ‘As long as we don’t have to play Scrabble’, she replied. I sat down next to her and we talked all night. We ended up leaving together. As we walked out of the bar together, we kissed. It was mind blowing amazing.”
“Who kissed who?” my friend Meredith asked. “If you asked me, she did. If you asked her, I did,” Rita said. “What’s cute is after that initial meeting, from that day on we’ve not been apart for more than seven days in the last seventeen years.”