Have you been changed too?

Man enjoying a walking lunch|Photo by Runs with Scissors, Flickr

Man enjoying a walking lunch|Photo by Runs with Scissors, Flickr

These are the things that no one tells you before you come to Vancouver. Like a cocoon transforms a caterpillar into a butterfly, inevitably Vancouver modifies those who get to call it home. After two years in the city, I cannot hide the change anymore.

I have come to use and understand what a “sun break” is, and I undoubtedly look forward to them amongst the showers, sprinklers and rain, which I can certainly differentiate. When temperatures rise above 10ºC and it is sunny, people in shorts do not surprise me any longer, and naturally, Lululemon yoga pants are appropriate for any occasion.

I keep showing off the fact that you can ski, golf and sail in Vancouver on the same day, although I have never heard of anyone who has tried it. But that doesn’t matter. It can be done.

Of course I can order ten different types of tea and the distinct tastes of Starbucks, Coffee Blend and Tim Hortons coffees are nothing but obvious. Does this sound familiar? You have started to build your cocoon.

Slowly, inescapably, I have started to understand the way the city is organized. I line up where the bus doors open, and most incredibly, I found some logic in the organization of the grocery stores – how the batteries are related to the bakery supplies and why the butter, milk and yogurt are not together.

Riots of tourists will arrive to the city soon, to whom I will give advice about the best places to eat in the city ranging from sushi to izakaya. If they ask about a Greek, Afghani or Argentinian restaurant, I also know where to send them.

I understand a “thank you” will end any bus ride, and I am used to not receiving a “good morning” back at the gym, where day after day I see the same people. One day I found myself standing on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the walk signal and then I knew it, my wings were growing.

But then I saw something that launched a rebellion inside me. When I discovered them I couldn’t avoid staring, as I was surprised at how they do it – walking eaters. You’ve seen them, usually around lunch time. They eat while they walk. And they eat anything from a burrito to a bowl of noodles to a salad. The action is accompanied by listening to music or talking on the phone. In any case, headphones are a basic complement. Napkins are neither used nor required. The use of a spoon or fork is not a problem. A big Tim Hortons cup completes the scene. One day, when a walking eater managed to add an umbrella to the salad and coffee combination, I couldn’t help but wonder what octopus quality allows a human to be capable of such an endeavour.

Then, all of a sudden, I realized that no matter what, this was not going to change in me. I am going to continue to share meals, as eating alone is one of the saddest things that someone can experience. Eating is more than a simple calorie input. The food is as important as the company, and surely, you sit to eat. You might find me eating a Japadog or running in the pouring rain, but this butterfly is never going to be eating a salad while walking.

One thought on “Have you been changed too?

  1. Great article.
    As a Mediterranean / Latin person who moved to Vancouver more than four years ago I agree with your opinion about ‘walking eaters’. Still remember how stupefied I was the first time I saw somebody eating noodles in the escalator of Oakridge skytrain station.

    Eating and drinking, I include coffee here, around a table is how in those cultures we articulate social life. First of all it’s a way to really enjoy meals calmly and pay respect to those preparing them. Second and more importantly it represents a time to cultivate human relationships.

    There is a big difference when my non-Latin friends come over for lunch compared to my Latin ones. Non-Latin will leave home two or three hours maximum after meal is finished while with Latin people around lunch frequently extends till 9 – 10pm so we end up having diner too!. Probably a more pleasant way to avoid the psychiatrist’s couch.

    I have to confess that during last months I’ve been having lunch at my desk in the office, something I would never thought I could do but that was a way to save time to spend later hitting the slopes during labor days. Now snow season is over and days are longer I feel like coming back to have lunch with workmates and chat awhile.

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