One week before our departure, I was running full speed on a serious lack of sleep, pushing myself through too many plans and too much activity, and stressed to a deep subconscious level. Mentally, we were on schedule: Brian had finished work, we had packed our kitchen and bookshelves, and our To-Do list was shrinking at a reassuring rate. But, crushed by the heavy weight of anticipation leading up to this trip, my immune system’s fate was inevitable: one chilly car ride sent my body into the depths of viral hell. One week before our departure, I was bedridden and feverish with migraines and swollen glands. I was unable to sleep from an inability to catch my breath. The butterflies that had been happily fluttering in my stomach for the past 5 months actually felt dead–I could think about nothing other than escaping pain and discomfort.
With one of us out of commission for the week, our timeline felt suddenly scary. There is so much to do when you are packing up your complex life and preparing to carry a much simpler life in 60-liters on your back! We have been priding ourselves for living so minimally in our little two-bedroom apartment, and so we severely underestimated the amount of time it would take to move out of it. It took about 10 minutes of discussion and negotiating plane fares for us to bite the bullet and book brand new tickets to Vancouver to give ourselves an extra (very expensive but very worth it) 48 hours in New Jersey.
A scary 5 months had become a strange last 3 weeks and then a very surreal stretch of final days. The morning we left we were both more like zombies than humans. But, I’m happy to report that we have recuperated in Vancouver and we’re feeling like our human selves once again!
Our first impression in Canada has been how absolutely nice everyone is. Like really nice. Rather than rudely pointing us in a general direction, we had people actually walk us to our inquired destinations. We had a bus driver give us free bus tickets because we didn’t have coins to pay for them. Our AirBnB hosts and our waitresses and even strangers in line next to us have been so sweet. This has made a strange transition out into the world a little less harsh.
We have slept so well here– uninterrupted, unapologetic 10-hour sleeps. The bags under our eyes are receding and color is returning to our skin. We both keep commenting that our brains feel like they are relaxing back down to homeostasis after operating like frazzled messes for the past few months.
It doesn’t hurt that Vancouver is a city of young people! Young, hip people are everywhere here. Our first night we set out looking for ‘a burger and a good beer in a cool atmosphere’ and we had multiple places to choose from on every single block within a 5 block radius. It was pouring rain on our first morning, but we couldn’t have been happier sitting in the cozy, retro-feel coffee and donut shop on our block, watching people stream in carrying laptops and novels and wearing their Pacific Northwest-esque rain gear. We have had a short but sweet few days in an awesome city, the highlights of which have been our little neighborhood (Mount Pleasant), a spontaneous nighttime water bus down False Creek, and riding bikes along the Seawall and through the dense forest of beautiful Stanley Park.