Farewell to Vancouver, and the West

Hilary McNaughton and I, Edgemont Village. Photo credit: Jonathan Morissette

Some sort of melancholic poem might be appropriate here, but I’ve been too busy to prepare one.

Tomorrow morning, I am to wake at 4:30am in order to cross town to the airport, get through whatever kind of security screening they feel inclined to subject me to, and board my 8:30am flight. Stopping in Edmonton en route, I should reach Gatwick Airport, outside London, around 3:40am on Thursday (GMT).

I am not the only one heading off during this space of time. As I understand it, Neal is in the air right now on his way to China. In the next few days, Kerrie and Nolan will be leaving for Ghana. I wish all of them the very best, and a safe journey.

Meeting with people during the past few days, as well as speaking with them and corresponding, has been highly gratifying. Meeting Jonathan, Emerson, Hilary, and Nick at various times today was likewise very welcome. Speaking to Meghan, Viktoria, Sarah, et all was certainly also appreciated. By far the biggest negative aspect of going to Oxford will be the breadth of separation created between my family, friends, and I. Undoubtedly, the two years will provide at least a few new ones. With luck, I’ll have the chance to introduce them to people who come visit me in Oxford.

I really should have cleared the contents of my cell phone after calling everyone to say goodbye, but, alas, Meghan Mathieson can testify to the quality of my memory. If I missed you, it’s probably because I didn’t have a copy of your phone number archived somewhere in my GMail folders.

In any case, I still have a few little bits of packing to do, which I’d like to deal with before it gets late. It’s impressive how all the bits and bobs that I’ve spent so long sorting and packing will probably amount to very little once I actually get to Oxford. I will not, for instance, have the slightest thing with which to decorate my room. All such concerns really ought to be pushed aside for the moment, however. When next I write, I shall still be your faithful blogging correspondent: now with a United Kingdom posting.

Departure party

Jonathan, Sasha, me, and Ashley at my departure party

The departure party was wonderful; my thanks go out to everyone who showed up. In particular, I’d like to thank everyone who brought food and wine (with which the party was most amply provided). Also, thanks to those who brought music to feed to the iBook, to Meaghan for bringing me flowers, and to Ashley for bringing single malt scotch. Now, after having woken up at 4:30pm and spent a few hours cleaning up, I finally feel as though I am really leaving. Suddenly, I have no time.

I will miss you all.

Seeing so many friends together is always a gratifying experience. On the brink of a long journey, it is always extremely comforting to know that you will be missed. In particular, it was good to see some of the people who I’ve been unable to see often of late, like Sasha and Greg. The party went exceedingly late, with the last guest leaving around 7am, and generally served as a very fitting prelude to my departure. I feel as though I should write more about it, but it’s always easier to write about bad or frustrating times than good ones. In any case, photos are now online.

During these next few days, I need to finish packing – both things coming with me into suitcases and things staying into neatly stacked boxes. I will not be bringing any photographs, but I suspect I will be glad of the thousand or so that I’ve taken in the last week or so with the digital camera. The only problem with it has been the terrible flash metering: so bad it makes me wonder whether this particular camera is defective somehow. Perhaps I should exchange it.

Happy Birthday Nick Ellan

Lauren Priest with a gun

Today was spent ponderously, in pursuit of refreshed memories. Camera in hand, I walked through the village and up the familiar but neglected path to my high school. Initially unwilling to go inside, I just circled it warily, walking first to the corner store that gave character to our inter-class breaks and then back up to Cleveland Dam – noting with alarm how low the water level in the reservoir is: a fact only evident by day.

Later, on the sofa in the kitchen and by window-light, I read several chapters of The Great Fire, finally passing the half-way mark. Somehow, the tone of the book has changed for me. With a stack of reclaimed books in my room, I feel a new urgency for finishing it, tinged with shame at having taken so long so far. With the book now in my mind more as a task to be accomplished and less as a thing to extract beauty and understanding from, the prose flows much more rapidly from eyes to brain.

Tonight, we are to celebrate Nick Ellan’s birthday through drinks and general socializing at his parents’ house. It is my hope that Sarah will come to join us. The lack of her company has been more biting than I would have expected for myself, though all such thoughts are heightened in the anticipation of my departure.

Nick’s party was relatively low key, with Jonathan, Neal, Maya, Emerson, and Lauren turning up. While I shot a large number of megabytes of images, I am not in the best shape for judging which among them best captures the event. I shall therefore provide one and allow those with sturdy imaginations to extrapolate the rest. 

Many congratulations to Nick for another successful orbit.

Tomorrow night, I am going for dinner with my family and to a play. Since my mother will not be in Vancouver for my Oxford pre-departure party on the 17th, we will be having a familial celebration tomorrow, albeit sans Mica. We are seeing The TJ Dawe Box Set at the Arts Club Theatre, heavily influenced by the good review it received from The Georgia Straight. Beforehand, we will be having dinner at the vegetarian Foundation Lounge at 7th and Main. 

PS. Look how ancient, how medieval, Wadham College looks.

PPS. I decided, less than a week ago, to stop eating factory farmed meat. The reasons are threefold. In short, it is unsustainable as well as ethically and hygienically repulsive. The newest theory about the emergence of BSE (see Alan Colchester in The Lancet) powerfully underscores the third point.

Saying goodbye to North Vancouver

Fruit on our dining room table

I’ve determined that the one and only reason I get more work done at the Capilano Library than at home is the spottiness of the wireless network there. As such, I am imposing an MSN ban upon myself for the next indeterminate period. (I even removed it from the Dock in OS X.) Playing with the new digital camera is quite enough recreation for the moment and I thankfully have a clutch of blogs whose daily reading keeps me up to date on what many of you are doing.

Aside from reading, I took a walk up to the Village today largely for purposes of photographic documentation. It’s remarkable how places I have been many hundreds of times, I have never bothered to commit to film. It seems appropriate now to commit them to a few bits of hard drive space before I leave for England, as a substitute for all of the albums I shall be leaving behind. I’ve likewise been conducting a photographic survey of my parents’ house and environs.

Tonight, it seems that I shall be going out somewhere with Astrid. Having not seen her since the beginning of the summer, I have relatively little idea of what to expect.

Sunday, Fernando and I are meeting to produce the final version of the NASCA report, to be passed on to Sens so that he can write an introductory letter. I’ve been disappointed to receive so little input from group members regarding the contents of the draft report. While it is based on the hundred pages of so of handwritten notes I produced during the various de-briefs, I still expected there to be at least a bit of discussion about its contents. I suppose it’s not unlike the group projects I’ve frequently directed in the past – where, as long as the work gets done, people will feel little impetus to make a contribution.

PS. Night’s Sindark Nave took another big step towards total disappearance today.

PPS. Those interested in cloak and dagger stuff should take a look at this fascinating article. Link courtesy of Bruce Schneier.