I stopped halfway over the second narrows bridge a couple of days ago. This is a carefully timed event; due to construction, only the west path is open and so the crossing is a practice in urban cooperation. But no one approached, so I took a moment up there. It’s an industrial view, to be sure. Downtown Vancouver grows out of the western horizon like a small succulent, spiky and dense and rising right out of rock. Compared to many, Vancouver is a very green city, but from up here it looks nothing like the sort of views I have been used to lately. Even this inland sea looks tamed compared to the constant surge of the open coast.
But yet. I realised on the top of the bridge the other day that despite its urbanity, this current undertaking is not to be underestimated. After all, adventure is about stepping outside of one’s comfort zones, no? And there is little question that I am less comfortable here than way out there. I won’t belabour this point – its not that interesting and purely a result of a serious amount of time in the last few years spent in remote places rather than some innate urban disinclination.
This is cool, I thought. This is what it must be like for all the people who I guide around all summer. I’m sure I’m missing things purely because I don’t see them; our eyes have a hard time focussing on things our brain doesn’t yet know exist, I have learned. I can pick out a wolf on a distant beach purely because my eyes are so good at seeing the beach without the wolf. Movement means something, out there. Here, I try to look in between the things I can see. I look for unusual shapes, I notice all the graffiti. Across the road right now, someone has painted a large red wagon on the wall of a building. A red wagon? I look even closer and I realise that care was taken to paint around it when the building was repainted recently. A saved red wagon.
I get it, though, that there is less appeal in reading about someone bumbling around a new city that in reading about someone crossing oceans, scaling mountains or traversing continents. I get it. So it’s not for you, it’s for me. I’m going to try and capture these moments that are fresh and shiny to me despite their slight dusting of smog and road grit. Most people I know in cities talk about escaping the city as much as possible. And while I know I will feel that way probably sooner than later, for now I am willing to embrace the grid layout of the world as most people know it.