Thursday, Jun. 12, 2014 @ 10:49 am
I want to document more of Europe, but it already seems so far in the past. One night, we sat on the banks of the Rhone in Arles, drinking wine as per usual, and I said, "Before you know it, we will be back in Vancouver, and this will all have seemed like a dream." And here we are back in Vancouver, and it does all seem like a dream.
Everything kind of feels like that these days. I just had my one year anniversary at work. It was four years ago last Wednesday that Daniel came home from a conference in Kamloops with Alf. I graduated from Camosun five years ago this month. Daniel and I will be having our nine year anniversary in September.
Europe. We stumbled across this fromagerie in Paris on our last day. It was raining, and I'd just plunged a foot into a deep puddle of filthy market water. A soup of fish juice and rotting vegetable tops and automobile grease. Anyhow, I was lamenting that my shoes were going to smell for the rest of the trip, when we looked up and saw this holy temple of cheese. Fromagerie Laurent Dubois. We walked inside, and I immediately forgot about the fishy water squishing between my toes. The place smelled like a deep, dark, salt mine. The delicate moulds, the air cool and dry, and the shelves stacked high with huge rounds of cheeses, rinds coloured varying hues of beige, grey, and brown. Cheeses cut open to reveal intricatenetworks of mould veins. Small rounds of soft cheeses, crumbling triangles of hard cheeses. Where to start? The homme du fromage came over and asked us if we needed help. "Un fromage a manger aujourd'hui avec le vin rouge et le pain." He pointed to a soft, white round. We nodded, and he wrapped it up in a sort of soft, white parchment and placed it in a protective balsawood box. We ate it later in our hotel room, rain pouring out of the eaves into the gutter rivers below, us making small moaning noises of appreciation between bites.
In Munich, we rode the train out into the countryside. We walked through a small village to a path through the forest. We climbed a small hillside in the dappled shade and later emerged onto the grounds of a monastary. We took in the view of the surrounding countryside, so perfectly pastoral, and then went into the cool interior of a rococo church. And then, having had our exercise and cultural experience, we wend round the side of the building to the huge beer garden and self-serve restaurant terrace. We're talking seating for nearly 2,000 people here. Not as big as the beer garden that we went to in central Munich, with a capacity of 8,000 guests, but sizeable considering the rural location. We stood in line for food. A frau cut me off a hunk of roast pork with an electric carving knife. My German is non-existant, so I had not way of communicating portion size. The frau then slapped a giant heap of saurkraut onto my plate, and at my request topped the thing with a perfectly brown pretzel. Daniel braved the beer lineup, and we found ourselves a seat at a picnic table on the terrace. Ahhh.. the sun and a perfectly warm breeze, a litre of helles lager, and the sounds of a thousand people talking and enjoying themselves. Such perfection on the top of that knoll in the Bavarian countryside.
Anyhow. I have moments like these in my head, and they seep out every now and then, and I relish the memory and am glad to have been there.
Alf. Four years ago, Alf. We are looking after him at his house in the suburbs. I saw his face for the first time in over a year. Oh god, Alf and his face and my maternal love for that animal. A tentative greeting. Wondering if he recognizes me. Later, it's all back to normal. I know him and he is still himself, though somewhat subdued. Growing up? Seeing little glimpses of his kitten self. The way he wags his tail, the way he pounces on the red pompom. Seeing one of his food dishes, a ceramic one that I bought in PG from a store in a strip mall, repurposed on their counter as a change dish. I wake up in the morning, and he's not around. I go down to the main floor of the townhouse, and he's not there either. I head down into the basement (jesus this place is huge) and there he is, sleeping on grandpa's bed. Oh, Alf. Push my face into his fluffy stomach, and he licks my forehead a few times in greeting. Stretches and follows me upstairs at a trot. My Alf.
Staying out here at their townhouse makes me realize a lot of things. How urban I've become. That I don't mind living in a high rise, the convenience of being able to walk to the library, grocery store, hair dresser, pharmacy, post office, liquor store, bus stop, coffee shop (x14), brewery (x3), park, seawall.... everything. How trapped it feels to be in a townhouse complex in the midst of a swath of low density development. I walk up and down the flights of stairs in the townhouse, and I'm already dreading how long it's going to take to vacuum the place before we leave. I used to think that I was not a city person, that I was more suited to something less busy, but I think that the reality is that the suburbs aren't quiet enough. That I could thrive in a truly rural landscape, but if we are to be within a developed area that I'm better suited to high density living. Prince George was a bit different in that there was no traffic. We lived in a standard subdivision, but the subdivision was an island of development in the midst of a rural, forested area, which happened to be a 6 minute drive to downtown. Leaving the townhouse complex this morning, it took me 6 minutes to get onto the main road because there is so much goddamn traffic. Anyhow, Cloverdale is an extreme case of suburban hell here in the Lower Mainland, so I shouldn't be so hard on suburbia.