exiled to mantua

I’ve had a theory for many years now that I’ve tested amongst my friends, but last night I received confirmation of my theory’s validity from an outside (and famous, so that counts even more) source.

My theory is quite simple: in order to appreciate Vancouver, you have to spend some time in exile; living far away in another city, another province, another country.

Then, and only then, will you be able to truly appreciate what a spectacular place we live in and never, ever want to leave.

For the sake of science, I extended my theory to include Victoria because I grew up there. I liked it well enough – Victoria is small, quiet, full of old people. I loved it because it was my home, but I didn’t LOVE love it – I thought I could move away and be perfectly happy somewhere else, because it’s just a city and your home is where you make it, right?

Not even a little. When I was 23, I decided that I was done with Victoria and I needed a change of scenery: I moved to Calgary. My plan was to be there for only 6 months, but I think I knew deep down that wasn’t possible – I didn’t have the means to move back, I had nowhere to go, and I was dating a guy in Edmonton. Before I knew it, I had a grown-up job and a car and settled in to a comfortable routine, thinking I was as happy as I was ever gonna get.

But .. every time I visited home, I’d spend a good chunk of time sitting by the ocean and crying. Leaving was terrible; I’d be wracked with a deep aching sorrow that felt like I was going to dissolve into sobs the further I got away from the city. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t even remotely happy in Alberta, and needed to move back to BC quickly before I went crazy (a deadline I missed by several years). It wasn’t going to be as easy to relocate the second time around – I had a boyfriend, an apartment full of stuff, two cats, and no money. Eventually I was able to leave Alberta and come back to BC, but it took 7 years; a period of time I refer to as my Exile.

Now that I’m back in BC, I’m never ever leaving. Sure, I’ll go somewhere on vacation or to visit people, but I know that I get to come HOME and home is Vancouver and it’ll never be anything else. I’m not going anywhere. If Ed wanted to relocate for work, he would be doing it alone. I’m not going. You can’t make me. I belong here, and it gives me a panic attack to think about packing up and moving away from this city, these people, my home.

I never truly appreciated everything Vancouver (and Victoria, but at this point in my life I need to not be waterlocked) has to offer until I was forced to spend time away. Honestly, I think everyone should have to do an Exile – maybe not seven years worth, but enough to realize what you gave up. I try really hard not to complain about things like the rain or the cost of living in this city, because those are a part of living in Vancouver. Yes, it rains – but not as much as people think. Yes, it’s expensive – but I’m so much happier here and honestly, what else would I be doing with the money? Yes, Vancouver is full of hippies and hipsters – but I am okay with that, because it is so funny. I want to slap the people who complain about this city, because they don’t know how truly awesome it is. Spend some time in Exile, THEN tell me how much Vancouver sucks.

One person does not a scientific theory make, but I’ve seen this in other people as well. Renee spent six years in Kingston Ontario, and finally managed to make it back this year. Even the rest of BC can’t hold up to Vancouver – Gillian is doing her Exile in Kelowna, and is planning a fantastic escape involving hot air balloons and a Goofy costume. Sure, the idea of the Exile has been proven in my own social circle, but all good science has to cast a larger net than that to prove a theory.

Last night, a whole bunch of us got to watch two tapings of The Hour starring everyone’s boyfriend, George. It was awesome – the guests were fascinating, George is so very cute and full of energy, and my Exile Theory was PROVEN by the director of District 9; Neill Blomkamp. During his interview with George last night, he revealed he moved to Vancouver from South Africa as a teen and hated it – until he moved away for a while, then came back. He did an Exile! My theory, proven by a famous guy! Science is AWESOME!

I expect my government grant and white lab coat to be coming in any day now.

cee bee cee

17 thoughts on “exiled to mantua

  1. Agreed! But I don’t think you have to go away and come back, you can just arrive here from somewhere else, and stay. I remember walking down N.W. Marine Drive to Spanish Banks, soon after I moved here from southern Ontario 16 years ago, looking out over the water and the mountains up Howe Sound, and thinking “They’re gonna have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming, to ever get me to leave this place.”

    Ontario friends regularly encourage me to move back. The main selling point? It’s cheaper. Well, there’s a reason why Vancouver’s expensive. People want to live here. Why? Just look around you, it’s obvious.

  2. I was born in Vancouver. I visit Vancouver as regularly as I can. But I can honestly say that I’m not 100% certain I would ever move back. While I know Calgary isn’t perfect, I know that neither is Vancouver. Both places have their flaws and foibles, but they both also have some REALLY AWESOME THINGS. Yes, even Calgary. :P

    Having said that, I am still in Exile.. from my beloved New Zealand!! :(

  3. Interestingly I sort of had an exile as a 13-year-old that lasted 8 months (but felt like 5 years) but in the decades following I’d forgotten what that exile had been like and obviously had to go through it again.

  4. TOTALLY agree, and I won’t even give it the Victoria extension. All I did was move to Victoria for two years, and coming back was SUCH a relief, even though I came back broke, unemployed, recently out of an abusive relationship, and living with my parents.

    I would rather live with my parents ANY DAY OF THE WEEK than live away from Vancouver. <3 Vancouver!

  5. I agree as well… as a YVR expat living in Ireland, you really do miss the place. Every time I come home I swear up and down that I’ll move back someday. With husband in tow.

  6. I was born and raised here, and so was my mom, my wife, and my kids. But you don’t need to move away to know how lucky we’ve got it. I traveled a fair bit when I was younger, and saw all sorts of places, from Moscow and (then) Leningrad to London, Rome and Florence and Milan, New York and Chicago and Denver and San Diego, Melbourne and Honolulu, Toronto and Ottawa and Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary. And (as a traveling musician) most of the B.C. Interior and Vancouver Island.

    I could probably manage living in San Diego or Melbourne. But they’re still not Vancouver. We’ve lived on the north side of the Metrotown hill in Burnaby most of my life, and we’re way too used to the unbelievable view from our front window. But every once in awhile, there’s a big snowfall followed by a sunny morning, and we get this (and that’s just part of what we can see).

    And that’s just the what-it-looks like part. Sure, we’re not as culturally vibrant as Austin or London or Montreal; not as hopping as Tokyo or NYC; not has historic as Berlin or Quebec City or New Orleans or Buenos Aires; not as architecturally interesting as Prague or Paris; still a bit prissy about when and where you can drink and party. Sure we haven’t sorted out our problems with poverty and addiction and such.

    But we’re shiny and new and polyglot, and you can buy cheap great sushi everywhere, and eagles fly by my window and I can walk 20 minutes from my house and see a real live wild beaver lodge, and my kids like going to both the Aquarium and the Pride Parade, and I have good friends and all my family here.

    When you visit a tourism website or see a brochure, or when the Olympics coverage features sweeping helicopter beauty shots of the city and mountains, you can say, “Wow. Yeah, it really is like that a lot of the time.”

    I wouldn’t move if I had any choice, and if I had to, I’d want to come back as soon as it was feasible. Sorry, rest of the world.

  7. Bah.. I’ve fought for years to move to Canada. The northwest specifically. Vancouver. It’s been a dream. I’m finally moving there and my gut instinct is that it will finally be the place I can call home. I’ve lived all over the place and none of them felt “right”, ya know?

    Vancouver seems to fit me. It will fit me. This summer, I’m coming to stay. :)

  8. I like your theory. I was born in Vancouver (like my mum and my grandpa) but grew up in Kelowna, and apart from some high school summer nerd camps at UBC didn’t get back to being a Vancouverite until after doing a BSc at McGill. I lived here liking but not loving Vancouver from 1999-2003, when I quit my job and broke up with my boyfriend to move to England for grad school. I lived there for a year and a half and moved back here mostly because of the ex-boyfriend, who’s now my husband. The first 6 months or so of being back in Vancouver I was crazy homesick for London. The streets here were too wide, I couldn’t take cheap weekend trips to other European cities, there wasn’t much history, North America felt strange to me.

    But then at age 30 I finally fell in love with this city as hard or harder as I’d fallen in love with London and Montreal and while I could live other places and be happy, I’d rather not. The Exile changed me and how I approach a city, so that it was easier to meet fun people and appreciate how great a place to live this is. I still have a lot of wanderlust and a long list of places to visit, but I feel very lucky to have Vancouver as my home base.

    So based on this one anecdata point, any skeptics about the Exile theory who’ve just moved back and still don’t love Vancouver should give it a bit of time and then revisit.

  9. I was at that taping as well and thought about what Blomkamp said. I grew up in Kingston, moved to Edmonton for a huge chunk of my life and then came out here a few years ago. Every time I visit Onterrible or Alberta I think, man alive, get me back to BC, baby! Even the first time I wandered the streets of Vancouver, I felt like I was at home.

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  11. I fell in love with Vancouver the first time I ever saw it, when I was 20. I finally managed to move here from the UK when I was 24, and I aint ever leaving again! This is home now, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else (except maybe San Francisco. Maybe). The fact that my husband is 100% tied to Vancouver by his job is extremely convenient for me.

    Full story here if anyone’s interested

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