Friday, 31 March 2017

A Story of Vancouver in the ‘70s, part 9

The visit to Vancouver was one of the final things our group of four did together. The trip confirmed my desire to move back as soon as possible. It was during that visit that I started working on my plan to return. Although we were only in Vancouver for long weekend, I went back to Calgary with connections to a new group and a new place to stay. It would take me a few more months before I was able to return to Vancouver for good.

While I was laying my plans, the two guys must have been making theirs. It was only a little while after we had returned to Calgary that they both left for Fort McMurray, which was a draw for job-hungry men even back then. As for Chris, she must have been thinking along the same lines as me because she ended up in BC as well. 

Perhaps Diane’s death had influenced Chris’s decision. It was hard to believe that someone so young and vital was gone. Even I, who had not been as close to Diane, felt that life was more precious knowing that it could be snatched away at any time. 

 Vancouver from Kits Beach many years after the '70s

Monday, 27 March 2017

A Story of Vancouver in the ‘70s, part 8

We were all excited to be back in Vancouver. Somehow it felt like home. Someone picked us up at the airport and drove us back to the house where we had spent the last Thanksgiving. We felt more than welcome. 

I can remember that we were all crowded into the front hall. There were the four of us and there must have been about five people living in the house at that time. We were all in that small space. There was a babble of voices and hugs all around.

Then Chris said, “The first thing I am going to do is call Diane.”

Debbie said, “You can’t do that, Christine.”

Everybody stopped talking as Chris looked questioningly at Debbie.

“We tried to call you but the number the phone company gave us didn’t work,” Debbie said.

Now everyone was looking at Debbie. My mind went to all the moves and changes of phone numbers we had gone through. But what had we missed?

Debbie reached out and touched Chris’s arm and said, “Diane is dead.”

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A Story of Vancouver in the ‘70s, part 7

Early October in Vancouver is harvest time. Plants are lush and fruits and vegetables ripe for picking. The Sunday before we moved to Calgary, we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends. After feasting indoors, we spent time outside on the porch and in the garden enjoying the company and the mellow air. 

A few days later, I had my first view of Calgary. I took one look at the brown grass and leafless trees and thought, “How soon can I get out of here?” 

It took 10 months to get back to Vancouver. In the meantime, we worked. I changed jobs a few times. I remember working in a fabric store. Winter-dry hands aren’t the best for handling fabric. It was a Vancouver company and the paycheques were late around Christmas, the truck bringing them was stuck in the snow in the Rockies. I also had a few jobs in working for the oil industry in Calgary offices. 

In the dead of winter, Chris and I were sharing a downtown flat. It was so cold I can remember hovering over the radiators and only the part of me closest to the heater felt any warmth. It was in Calgary that we found out that -40 is the same on the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales by going for a walk in it.   

There were new friends and new experiences while we were there. We changed residences and roommates on several occasions. Our original crew seemed to drift apart except for one time. We all agreed to take a trip back to Vancouver, just for a visit.

 An early October picture taken in a Vancouver suburb