i’m breaking up

Dear Vancouver,

I’m breaking up with “I’m breaking up with Vancouver” posts.

We get it. Everyone wants the dream life of a condo on the beach and a gaggle of friends who all laugh at salad. Vancouver housing prices are out of control, and it’s nigh impossible for most people to afford the lifestyle they want. Vancouver can be unfriendly: people don’t say hello in elevators. I personally have never sought to make friends with people I share 5-10 seconds of my life with only to never see again, but you do you. Vancouver is an emotionally distant shiny glass fortress that just sucks so hard, you guys. That’s why people are breaking up with it and running back to the island/the east/some other magical modern city that has mountains and oceans and mild winters and no transit problems and differently-crooked politicians, patting themselves on the back for escaping the “abusive relationship” they had with Vancouver along the way.

I can’t help but think that calling your unhappiness with a city an “abusive relationship” might be a little offensive to those who’ve survived actual abusive relationships, but I’m just one person. I lived in Calgary for 7 years and I fucking hated it, but I didn’t consider it either abusive or a relationship – I just did what I could to make it better, and moved to a different city when I was able. This is coming from someone who anthropomorphizes toothbrushes, so it’s a pretty big change of pace: I didn’t give Calgary a personality and attribute human characteristics to it, it was just a lousy situation. The end.

Okay, back to the sheer horrific inhabitable nature of Vancouver. There’ve been a lot of open letters posted recently about unhappy people are with the city. These open letters aren’t wrong – Vancouver is a tough place to live, and it’s not getting easier any time soon. Housing prices are ridiculous and unfair and everyone is so mean. What’s a simple marketing executive living in Yaletown to do? I can barely afford to keep myself in Lululemon and organic kombucha! I’m breaking up with you!

I’m going to drop a truth bomb (dear FBI: this is not a real bomb) here, okay?

Vancouver is more than Kitsilano, Yaletown, and the West End.

HOLY SHIT

Did you know that it’s possible to live outside those three areas and still lead a full life?

OH MY GLOB

There’s more, too: some people even go so far as to live outside of Vancouver altogether, yet somehow manage to not exist in a cultural vacuum.

IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (AND I FEEL FINE)

I’m not by any means ignoring the fact that Vancouver housing prices are out of control and we as citizens need to rise up and overthrow the government by force – I’m just saying that maybe it’s possible to live outside the core and not immediately require a minivan and a skort. East Vancouver is pretty cool. North Vancouver is amazing and I love it there. New West? Totally livable. Surrey? Well, let’s not get crazy. I’m just saying that there are ways to survive in this city if you’re willing to expand your bubble a little, y’know?

Moving on: making friends. It’s fucking hard. It’s doable, though, if you try things that aren’t going to the bar or going to the beach or going to the club or going to that one beach that has a bar slash club right on it. So many people have social lives that revolve around alcohol, which is just baffling and irritating to me. Go to a Meetup! Volunteer somewhere! Throw a block party! Did you know Vanccouver gives grants to neighbourhoods who want to be more social? Look online for events that interest you, and go to them! Game nights, book clubs, cooking classes, work events, dog parks, clothing swaps, craft fairs, community gardens, improv shows (or classes!), boot camps, coding events – my god, I have fucking social anxiety and can’t meet people, yet I can think of a dozens ways to try (if I wasn’t too afraid to leave my living room and also I hate wearing pants). Bring a flask if you absolutely have to drink, but maybe try taking your life outside the pub. They’re dark and loud and actually a really shitty place to try and meet new people.

Many people have extremely valid reasons to want to leave Vancouver. Hell, even me: for all my eye-rolling ire, I would leave Vancouver if I could, for a place that has some history. I’m presently obsessed with Europe (and afraid of America) and I dream daily about packing it all up and moving elsewhere (even temporarily). It’s not a “break up”, though. It’s simply a readjustment of my priorities, which doesn’t make for a dramatic open letter.

Again: I’m not saying that life in Vancouver isn’t difficult. I’m just saying it’s possible there’s so much more out here if you open yourself up a little. And if you don’t want to do that, then maybe think about getting involved and help change the things you hate so much.

Or you could move to Toronto. I hear the nightlife out there is just, like, so great.

2 thoughts on “i’m breaking up

  1. I’m so with you on the not-needing to chit chat with people for 10 seconds who I will never see again! I mean,, I will if they start it, but my life is missing nothing without it. I”m from the east coast and roll my eyes so hard at everyone to talks about how friendly it is there. No, it’s _chatty_. People there will talk your ear off forever even if you’re trying to go somewhere and do something. Does that mean friendly? Matter of opinion.

    That said – housing prices are ridiculous in all of Metro Vancouver, from what I understand (it has apparently spread to Squamish and Victoria now too)… but I’ve never left the West End so my research is sketchy.

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