Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Rhythm.

Every year I describe my summer job to people. And every year I tell them: "I have to live in a run-down old house with the same people I work with. It's a bit like a reality tv show sometimes. It's kinda nuts."
But the truth is, that's an exaggeration. It's not usually nuts, except in a good way. Like when your roommate speaks in a ridiculously bad English accent and you all break up giggling because it never gets old. Or when you turn up the volume on a cheesy Katy Perry song on the way to work in your stage manager's car and later you sing bits of it while dressed in a 19th-century costume. Or when you all rush outside the house because there is an ADORABLE  Grizzly bear cub across the road and even though you all know it's a terrible idea to get anywhere near a bear cub, you all have to see the baby close-up. * And then your roommate sneaks up behind you and snarls and you let out a huge scream because you thought it was Mama Bear.
There are two 20-somethings and two late-30-somethings; three girls and one boy, and we all snuggle up in the evening and crochet or play video games and watch "American Horror Story" or some super-hero action movie and laugh a lot and cook dinners together and do the Kitchen Dance as we all try to fit ourselves around each other at the same time.
Sometimes you all have a Junk Food Day on your day off, and you eat ridiculous amounts of sugar (even though some of you are trying really hard not to consume that sort of thing). You might even make Orangette's Chocolate Banana Bread recipe, if you want to make your roommates love you. It's loaded with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips as well as three bananas, and it won't last long:

It's the rhythm of my days with these folks that make life up here so sweet. In past years there has been more drama, but even when things were difficult or tense, we found some kind of rhythm together. It could be the hardest part of this contract, living for 5 months with the same people you see all day at work, and every year I'm amazed by how it's actually the best part. 

* This is a terrible idea! We only went outside to see the baby bear because there was no sign of the mother and as time went by it became apparent that for some reason she had become separated from her baby and was nowhere nearby. Don't ever do this. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I Came.

Why I come:

The dark, wood walls of this tumbledown house (now with waxed floors! A properly-vented dryer!  And-wonder of wonders- internet!).
The three other people here in this house with me, my co-workers, my friends, my family for the next five months.
A glimpse of grizzly bears running across the highway in front of our car today, scary and majestic.
The theatre, with all of its dust and paint and mouse droppings and beautiful acoustics and wood.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rollin' On

Every spring I write a wistful post about leaving Vancouver in all its warm and sunny glory. This year is no exception.
I walk down south Fraser Street yesterday afternoon inhaling the smell of blossoms, of food; hearing different languages and accents. My life (and diet) is a lot less Asian up North: no Thai, no Japanese, no Vietnamese, only excellent (but very expensive) Chinese food.
I am packing today. My life: compressed into 2 cardboard boxes, a suitcase, an accordion case.

I go on my annual 7-hour urban hike with a friend and the day couldn't be finer. Seven hours of beach, river, railway, sun, wind... We end the hike footsore and sunburned, but triumphant. 

The little cat climbs into my open suitcase, my chest of drawers, my closet. By the time I get back she will be fully-grown. I'll miss her wide eyes, her huge purrs, her playfulness. My brother and his wife will have their house to themselves again for five months. They have been excellent roommates, but so are the ones I live with in the summer. 

This pattern has been part of my life for four years now. 
There are no goodbyes, only "see-you-laters".

Been kickin' sawdust In these clothes
For a blue moon And a red nose
The boys will put 'em up And tear 'em down
We'll wash away The dirt
Just a glass a day Ain't gonna hurt
Pretty soon we'll move on Out of town

We pass them by Across the plains
We don't even try To catch the names
It's supper-time and their kids Are home from school
They draw the shades On their shops
While we go a'checking Through the props 
And putting on the paint To play the fool

Then we're rollin' on
Rollin' on
Feeling, better Than we did last night
Rollin' on rollin' on
It's hard some times Pretty much it's alright

I'll go soft shoe When it rains
I'll go shuffle through The aches and pains
Mr. young at heart That's what I try to be
They all laugh And cry
They get to feeling better And that is why
If it was good for you Truly it was good for me

Then we're rollin' on
Rollin' on
Feeling, better Than we did last night
Rollin' on rollin' on
It's hard some times Pretty much it's alright

-Mark Knopfler, "Rollin' On"