This week is my ten-year Vanniversary. Ten years of living in Vancouver, Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh land, after coming here for school with a partner and a plan to go home when my two years were up. Ten years of griping about the rain, of riding my bike, of camping on some of the nicest logging roads around, of being surrounded by lovely people and black cats and so many flowers.
I never planned to stay, and in the end likely won’t, but the leaving looks much different than it did a decade ago, and I’m getting a touch teary thinking about how grateful I am for way this phase of life has turned out.
A lot has happened in ten years. That relationship ended. Then I lived in three different houses with roommates who became my best friends. I earned an MFA and hustled for years as a writer. When I finally realized I’d never pay off my student loans as freelance advocacy journalist I went back to school and got a technical certificate from BCIT. Then I started a photography business.
I came out as queer and saw a whole world open up in front of me. I learned what it felt like to be properly seen. I fell in love again, this time with the person with whom I’m now planning the next phase of our life together.
Coming from Anishinaabe and Haudenosuanee territory and the stately and beautiful Limestone City, (Kingston, ON) I have always been snotty about the cityscape. People would say ‘Vancouver is such a beautiful city!’ and I would sniff and explain that the city is not beautiful. The city is made of green glass and stucco and mold. The setting is beautiful. The province is beautiful (I swear I’m a little less jerky than I was then).
There have certainly been lessons, though I’m not sure if they’re different from what the lessons of your twenties would be in any other place, especially a place you didn’t grow up. I need people more than I’ve ever been eager to admit. Turns out I’m a cryer (see above). I’m not at all suited to 9-5 jobs (I think I’ve only been fired twice?) I live on native land and it will be part of the work for the rest of my life to find ways to defend it.
While I still struggle to connect to the city, and I still miss Ontario and all my family there, my second true love has become this towering province. The glacier-fed lakes, salmon-fed forests, long roads through the canyons. And picking up a film camera for the first time and seeing this place on the negatives and in print added a whole new dimension to the experience. Backpacking with my love and an unreasonably heavy analogue camera has become what I live for. I look forward to seeing this place and its people in new light, new seasons, over and over for many years to come.
After ten years of living in Vancouver I can’t say I have much to offer by way of conclusions, so I will leave you with a selection of favourite photos from the last few years. Thanks for coming along <3