I fell in love today … and remember Monopoly

August 26, 2008 in It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (0)

 

It actually happened two days ago – almost to the minute as I write this.
I fell in love with Vancouver. (That’s Vancouver, BC, btw)
For those who know me, and even for many who don’t, it’s abundantly clear from any number of tales I may have shared that I have a deep, passionate and truly connected love for San Francisco. It goes to the marrow of my bones, and has been like that since I stepped off the plane on June 26, 1990.
Part of this love comes from perspective. I’ve had the good fortune to travel a bit – both around the US and a touch of international – and no matter where I go, and how much fun I might have in other places, the best part of any trip for me is that approach to SFO over the Bay (added bonus if lucky enough to be on the approach pattern that takes in a sweeping, banked turn around the downtown area of SF and the Golden Gate).
So when I had a moment here in Vancouver this past Sunday afternoon – a moment when my heart swelled like it sometimes does back home in SF – it made me catch my breath, and then smile.
It was an otherwise unremarkable moment in time, strolling along and turning the corner off Granville by the Vancouver Art Gallery. It may have been the smell (a deep, damp, green earth scent blended with wafting aromas of salt and brine from the sea); it may have been the light (dappled amber when not shifted to gray from the charcoal clouds pregnant in the sky); it was probably a bit of both combined with some deeper sense that just felt comfortable – not dissimilar to how I felt upon stepping off the plane in the Bay Area on that hot, June morning eighteen years ago.
Amidst the sounds of city (construction, traffic, conversations – a strangely melodic audio melee) I could hear the raucous laughter of seagulls – reminding me of my summers in Atlantic City, NJ. I was born and raised along the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, PA but summer – and many weekends in the winter “off” season – meant heading for the Jersey Shore and our place one block from the beach.
I tell people that I spent my summers in the yellow section of the Monopoly board - between Ventnor and Atlantic avenues not too far from Marvin Gardens.
Really.
My dad grew up down there – back in the days when Atlantic City, NJ wasn’t the punchline of a bad Vegas joke but rather an elegant seaside community where people actually did raise children.
As I recall the story, he and my mother met the summer after she graduated Penn State University. Her family, which was from Philadelphia, spent summers in Atlantic City. So after her college graduation, down to the shore they went. And, as these things go, someone (probably from the synagogue) said, “Hey, have I got a nice boy to introduce to your Doris…”
And so my parents met.
There are funny stories about those early days, but those must wait for another day, because this is a story about the place not the people. More to the point it’s about what it means when a place reveals itself to be your soul mate.
Atlantic City always has held an incredibly strong place in my heart. It does to this day. I adored those summers and to this day the scent of sea (and the usual accompanying aromas of tar and wood from docks) sends me to a very special place in my memory. A place that is equal parts safe, warm, happy and hopeful.
But I digress …
I was talking about the experience of feeling suddenly at home in a place that is, for all intents and purposes, a wholly strange place. Sure I was in Vancouver once before – in the September of 2005 for about four days – but that doesn’t exactly a deep relationship make.
And that last trip, while fun, certainly didn’t amount to any sort of deeply connected experience. I had fun and noted that Vancouver was a place I had to visit again.
So to be strolling by myself down a random street and suddenly feel that I was home was a particular jolt.
As I noted in a previous commentary, I came here to Vancouver for some R&R and to see what might come up if I let myself … just … connect.
And here’s the takeaway thus far … home does lie precisely where the heart does.

 
 

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