Saturday, May 26, 2012

north before south


Marido and I have been in Vancouver for over a month now. It has not been the mild, Canadian experience that I had anticipated. Everything is more, more, more than what I thought it would be. It is more expensive and more rainy and more sunny and more pleasant and more happy and more productive and more mountainous.

I've been using this time here as practice for life on the road, but it's far too comfortable to compare. Aside from the pared-down wardrobe and lack of friends, this is not what our grand adventure is going to look like. But I have been incredibly productive, something that I was worried that I would not be able to accomplish while in a new city. But in that sense, it has been a great practice. I am seeing that I work well in excursions of this length. It is enough to get to know an area while not having the pressure to sacrifice work to sightsee. When you're in a place for six weeks, you have time to settle into a new routine and then leave before it gets boring. I love it.

Of course it helps that we have a great set-up here that we didn't have to arrange ourselves. Marido gets to walk to work. The one-bedroom they put us up in is appointed with all these modern conveniences that we don't have at home: a dishwasher, heat, and a little gym in the lobby of our 22-story building. We even have a washer/dryer in the unit, which is critical seeing as we each only brought like six shirts for our six-week stay. In fact, it makes our home in San Francisco seem downright rustic.

In ten days we'll be celebrating two years of driving each other crazy. I'm humbled when I think of how much things have evolved--how we have parlayed a fleeting encounter in Buenos Aires into this beautiful, inspirational partnership that has changed me in so many ways. There are the obvious ways--like quitting smoking and really focusing on my work alongside someone who is so supportive of me--but it's the more subtle ways that I think really add up to feeling like a different person. I think my standards have shifted so that I no longer hope and pray for something wonderful to happen to me, I expect it. I expect it every day in little ways and over the long-term, as well. Some people might call this optimism, but I think it has more to do with the confidence you gain when you begin to see results. It's an overwhelming feeling that I'm not quite used to. It makes me feel privileged to expect good things to come my way, and almost a little fearful in the way that when you have higher expectations, you build yourself up for greater disappointment. But I think that this is also what develops from being in a strong partnership. Your performance improves.

In this way I have to say that Vancouver itself is inspirational. The city is highly functional. It's not a party town where people get drunk and stay out all night. It's a place where people are respectful of themselves and each other and the environment. And maybe that has something to do with why my work is going so well here, too. It's not as self-indulgent as San Francisco. It encourages you to work hard and to be humble. I don't know what it is about this place, but I like it and I hope that I can make the most of the next two weeks--and somehow learn to take this sort of focus with me on the road. It looks like things are about to get interesting.