I love Vancouver. I’ve never said much to the contrary, but over the last couple of days, my love for her has grown by leaps and bounds – so much so that it feels like it could burst out of my chest.
The media is of course having their usual exploitative heyday with the Vancouver Riots. I don’t even really want to acknowledge the whole thing, because frankly, it’s all been done. It’s be said. Over and over until we want to collectively cry. And yes, it was horrible. But out of that dark again, Vancouver proved herself to be comprised of some of the most inspiring, caring and selfless people around. This is what that post is about. This is a post where I talk about how I came to the realization tonight that since moving into this little apartment, the best possible thing could have happened: my extreme lack of space forced my hand into not having a TV. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love watching HBO series and documentaries as much as the next person. But I found that when I had an actual TV in my possession, i often ended up watching a lot of News. Under the guise of educating myself, I was in actuality poisoning my psyche, one day after the next with the endless constant negativity. Now yes, i understand this sounds all very dramatic, but there was a definite downward slump in my mood when I was watching the news 2 hours a day. The sometimes subtle sad or hostile undertones, well – we’ve become so accustomed to them in our daily lives that we don’t question them anymore. But undoubtedly, they are toxic.
Now, because I don’t have my own TV, but have still become quite the hockey watcher during the playoffs, I ended up at my best friend Tara and her husband Jim’s place for Game 7. We understandably we all super excited, and drinking beer and having fun. And then we lost. Disappointing? Yes. Of course. The end of the world? Not in the slightest.
Then we got a call saying that the downtown core had begun the rioting. So we switched the station, and then we watched, stunned. Horrified. And for a few wordless minutes, heartbroken. Despondent. Those pictures – those Molotov cocktail throwing testosterone enraged psychos… this couldn’t be our city? Admittedly, i was in a tipsy state of denial. A friend and I walked home together, and overhead you could hear the helicopters circling, and the endless drone of ambulance sirens taking load after load of casualties to nearby Vancouver General Hospital. What is one to do in this situation?? Well, obviously – the only thing that made any sense to my mind in that moment: go find some swings, and swing the hell out of them. So we did. Then, after the swinging had concluded, it only made sense to further continue the tipsy party in the back courtyard, sipping Granville Island Raspberry beer, and laying in lounge chairs under the stars. Listening to our city, which had in the course of a handful of hours resembled a war zone.
Had this been my old apartment, I would have rushed right home, plunked myself in front of the TV and stayed up until 4am watching in horror as the police struggled in vain against a bunch of hoodlum assholes hell bent on creating destruction. But, because I didn’t, I brushed my teeth, got into bed, and fell asleep.
When I woke up this morning, I felt melancholy. I wasn’t bummed out about the game loss. The Canucks played a great series. Bruins played a better one. It’s ok to admit that your opponent is good. I kept reading Facebook posts about a clean-up that was going to start happening early in the morning downtown – people would be heading there with bags and brooms and dustpans, ready to put the city back to right. Back to normal.
I grabbed my camera and hopped on a bus, preparing myself for a few hours of documenting the carnage, and perhaps lending a hand, if I was needed. But when I got there, my heart almost burst at the weight of it all. The sheer number of smashed windows, the burnt dumpsters, the blood on the ground. BUT… and here is a very large BUT – I was absolutely blown away by how many people were out already, making the city sparkle. People from all walks of life were there – children, teenagers with mohawks, seniors in wheelchairs, businessmen in expensive suits, women in high heels. And they were all working together. And they were all doing it with smiles on their faces. There was no hand-wringing; there was no endless bitching about how the city has failed us, and all the things that could have gone wrong. It was just people in love; bursting with pride for their little city, protecting her and shining her up. Not quite brand new, but almost. And it brought tears to my eyes, several times.
Tonight I realized – I’m so much better off without the TV. I’m better off surrounding myself with things that inspire me, or restore my faith in people who care to do good for those around them, and the place they call home. You can look elsewhere for scathing commentary on the downfall of humanity and the ineptitude of whoever the fuck you think dropped the ball. Personally, I think that the Vancouver Police Department did a bang up job. I think the paramedics and firefighters and civilians who threw themselves in harm’s way on behalf of a city we all love so dearly— you were all amazing — and words cannot thank you enough. So instead, I will do what comes easy to me – I will tell the story of my day through pictures. And I hope that the positivity comes through. The optimism and gratitude. Vancouver, don’t let this get you down. You’ll shake this off just as you have before. You really have no other choice – there are too many of us here, cheering you on.