Romanticism – The Traditional Kind

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my aversion to the ugly towns of Northern BC. My hopes of rugged weatherboarding and quaint fishing communities were not quite met.

Prince Rupert, sorry, but besides the thin strip along the bay that lasts all of about 200 ft, is super hideous and run down. And the provincial parks… left me wanting. But I am just being SUPER shallow? I mean what do I bloody expect, I’ve been travelling across a country where real people live in real poverty, like most other places in the world. Imagine visiting Harlow and thinking god Essex is hideous or Milton Keynes and thinking Buckinghamshire is shitty. (There are great aspects to both these places, pls don’t shoot me, your towns are great).

But whilst I can accept that not everything and everywhere is gonna meet my standards of pretty… I’m allowed to not want to stay there right? Y’know, indefinitely? Not for me.

Romanticism, in the traditional sense of the word, is described by google as:

A movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.

That’s not really the easiest concept to understand. I like how Rosalind Buckton-Tucker describes Romanticism and it’s link to travel (she talks specifically about travel writing). She writes about it in her piece Romanticism and the Philosophy of Travel published in International Journal of Arts and Sciences. 

READ ME HERE: (http://openaccesslibrary.org/images/LVG242_Rosalind_Buckton-Tucker.pdf)

When I read about peoples travels, or not even read… when I just look at Insta posts or Facebook images… lots of the romantic themes crop up: aestheticism and a sense of awe and wonder is massive. Obviously, romanticism being from the 18th Century, it’s outdated as a movement, there aren’t many people proclaiming themselves romantics anymore. But I can’t help but feel many of our aspirations towards travel are built upon these romantic ideals.

Maybe I’m lacking the gumption, to expect less and absorb more?

I chose Canada… The Great White North of all places. Of course I came here due to some sort of affinity with nature and desire for awe n wonder. I’ve had my fair share for now. I’ve spent months looking to the mountains, lakes and waterfalls.

According to Colin Wilson in Introduction to the New Existentialism,  Romanticism began as a tremendous surge of optimism about the stature of humankind. Its aim — like that of science — was to raise us above the muddled feelings and impulses of his everyday humanity.

This certainly seems like a more pleasant way of looking at it. Through creating a dialogue with nature we may learn more about ourselves and our place…

Circling back, I couldn’t achieve a dialogue with nature in a place like Prince Rupert, Terrace or Prince George, as nestled as you are in the mountains, the grey  man-made structures are overbearing and fog my poor little mind. In Squamish, as unattractive as I found downtown, it wasn’t overbearing, it wasn’t pushing down heavily on my chest.

Is it cliché that this is all so bloody reflective? Maybe I’m spending too much time in my own head.

Someone lend me a helping hand and help me figure out where it’s all going?

The mountains aren’t calling me any longer. Something else is.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

x

 

 

Pop Culture in The Emerald City

I wish I could take a photo right now. Katie Chang, I’m drinking bubble tea like I said I would: a matcha tea with tapioca pearls (little chewy balls of starch from cassava plants). It’s super photogenic… well interesting looking, however my phone has ran out of charge and this first draft was scribbled – so no image for ya. They said I could lower the sweetness of the drink to 25% (whatever that equates to I couldn’t figure out), so I did so but it’s still super sickly, sweeter than my Maccy D’s strawberry shake any day. I also feel like these little tapioca pearls are just like frog spawn… or caviar or some such thing.  I don’t think there’s going to be a happy ending here. The matcha tastes like modified sugar and the pearls don’t really taste of too much at all. I’ve tried to expand my palette today but this experimentation has failed and I shan’t be frequenting any more Bubble Tea shops any time soon.

This post isn’t about my culinary ventures (as good as Seattle is for just this) Rather it is about my day immersed in popular culture.

*You could say my pursuit of bubble tea could be included as part of my day of pop culture, only tried in an attempt to understand more about a particular current trend. One that’s been sweeping metropoles mostly, (I think they should stay there personally, this other-wordly beverage wouldn’t sit so well with rural folk and small-towners).*

Today I went to MoPop (formerly EMP Museum): The Museum of Popular Culture. This big metallicy building is located at the Seattle Center just in the shadow of the Space Needle. I walked here from Fremont, a nice little 4.4 mile round trip mostly along the waterfront, a necessary jaunt after all my Canadian fattening over the last few months.

The MoPop is currently home to Bowie by Mick Rock: an exhibit featuring 65 photographs capturing David Bowie’s transformation into Ziggy Stardust among other beautiful, cosy, behind the scenes theatrics AND The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited – I paid extra for this little exploration.

The museum is super pricey at 30 bucks a pop if you’re going to get all access. I wouldn’t have paid it if it weren’t for these two exhibits, which I’d pay for anywhere. If I’d pay for Lichtenstein and Pollock of course I’m gonna bloody pay for a bit o Bowie n Henson (I did however pay  a lot less for the former in England).

Bonus Exhibits also worth the cost: Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magi and Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds.

Although clearly a popular culture museum in general, I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the exhibits catered to geeky fandom a little more than pop culture dabblers. But that’s a-okay by me.

Highlights: Kermit, Labyrinth costumes, Bowie mime pictures.

The mime photos are super interesting, Bowie actually trained with a mime for some time to include some work in his performances. Foremost an entertainer. I’ve never actually seen many of his live performances on video, something I must do, especially now I know a little bit more about how he prepared for them.

Also those of you who are actual fans will know about his fear of flying and how he traveled via train, bus and boat. Some great photos of him in the dining cart of trains.

I didn’t find out too much new stuff about Henson but it was great to just look at all the muppets up close and hear lots of giggling among the exhibits visitors.

I spent lots of money today but I don’t feel too bad about it. I made a list of goals for the coming months yesterday and they included: Consuming more art/cultural content, fulfilling my need for a creative outlet, being more physically healthy and learning new things everyday. I’m pretty sure by walking (physical health✓) to the exhibit (art/culture consumption✓),reading more about cultural icons and their audiences (learning✓), and then writing about it when I got home (creative outlet✓) I have achieved quite a lot to feel good about today.

Finally, things I’ve discovered today:

  • Seattle has more than 500 houseboats- more than anywhere else in U.S. I saw lots of these on my walk – tons
  • Seattle’s nickname The Emerald City is due to the city itself and the surrounding area being covered in greenery. It’s pretty obvious, but I hadn’t heard it’s nickname much outside of the U.S. and hadn’t really thought about it. All this greenery is visible on the flight over – super cool stuff.

I learnt some more stuff about Fremont too, the area I’m staying in, but I’ll save that for when I’ve given my folks a little tour perhaps.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

x

 

 

 

Fremont Seattle

This neighborhood is the perfect setting for a novel about twenty/thirty somethings; fumbling their way through life, binging on coffee and box sets, playing at a bit of popular culture criticism perhaps and/or attempting to create some culture of their own. I feel as though nestled inside these trendy, probably too expensive rental properties there are aspiring writers and musicians.

I’d certainly want to be a character in one of these novels. Writing  play or some such thing. (I almost bought a book on how to do just that today, thought perhaps not the time or place? Or maybe it is? Should have…)

This burb is a mecca for the aspiring don’t-know-what-yet. Loads of coffee joints, plenty of bars (craft beer and cider options ofc), vintage clobber, second hand books and yknow, all sorts.

Everywhere around are relatively fit young people, lots with family visiting it seems from far off states. I’m overhearing conversations about travel, literature and ‘creative work projects.

It’s rather ridiculous to happen upon such a comfortable city to find it’s in the states.. humph. I’ve got my Canadian work permit and it seems Seattle could be a wonderful place to spend a ‘fall’. The leaves are going pretty brown on the ground already – b e a u tiful.

I’ve bought my second Nick Hornby book this month – High Fidelity – Stevie J’s recommendation, time to get stuck in and re-hydrate after my neighborhood orientation.

Two posts in one day, jeez.

The Ever-Loving Abigail

x

IMPORTANT NEWS

** I DIDN’T MENTION I’M NEXT TO A PIE SHOP **

 

Feeling Totally Sleepless in Seattle

Touchdown.

In the city where I’m going to reunite with my family in a few days time. I cannot put into words how excited and relieved I am to be reunited with the clan.

The next couple of weeks are going to be such a bloody roller coaster. (How has no one thought of a better metaphor for fluctuating emotions?!)

The neighborhood I’m in: Fremont. It’s leafy and trendy. Good trendy, not trash-trendy, although I tend to like a good helping of both.

I’m currently enjoying a coffee and a catch up with reality in Stoneway Cafe – recommended to me by the lovely front desk bloke at the hostel, Hotel Hotel on Fremont N- silly name, absolute nonsense, great place.

I’ve written a list of a few second hand book stores, tattoo studios, coffee spots and general places to take it slloooooww. I’m super keen on exploring this neighborhood as well as the inner city. I’ve got a feeling Seattle might make my faves list. Who knows, let’s not get over-excited but I’m really liking the vibes.

And for me to like the vibes of a city when my head is pounding, my heart’s all tangled and I’m feeling totally sleepless… is pretty sweet. Seems like a nice place to recharge before the big reunion.

I’m thinking coffee and books and leafy streets. So many leaves, I could see em all from the plane as we landed.

T-minus 48 hours, or thereabouts

Over and Out

The Ever-Loving Abigail

xx

 

 

It Was All Going Too Well

I suppose if everything went fine and dandy all the time it would all be too kushty, too comfortable and not enough risk.

So far of this country I’ve seen: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Victoria (Van Island), Salt Spring Island (BC), Terrace and Prince Rupert (Lower North West BC).

The latter was less thrilling. The sites have been beautiful, mountains, pines, lakes, you get the idea. But the towns, these North American towns. I’m still suffering some major culture shock I swear it. Nestled among these scenes of beauty are some very ugly grey towns. Much dingier than the likes of some of the most poverty stricken areas of Fair Ole Essex. It’s a bit snobby… it’s totally snobby. But I’m really missing those higgledy piggledy British scenes.

Seeing Northern BC by car has been pretty sweet. You get to see a lot more than you would on  a plane and you can stop off wherever you want I suppose.

Much of Central BC was not so pleasurable. Entering Kamloops was like entering the inner depths of hell. This forest fires are killer. The air quality in Kamloops last weeks was two times worse than the air quality in Bejjing when China called for a national state of emergency. That’s right two times worse – and that’s China we’re talking about.

These last few weeks have been an experience. I bought a car with someone for the first time in my life. And we’ve since decided to sell the car as ma little homesick Kiwi flys home to his country. And ofc kiwi birds can’t fly so he’ll be getting a little help from Air New Zealand on September 3rd.

I’ve got until then to sort my shit out and decide my next move. My savings are dwindling a little and currently so is my hope. Being around a homesick bubba has been wearing off on me.

Ole Blighty is calling. I’ve come to decide I’m a hobbit. Not just any hobbit though, a Took, definitely up for adventure but also very attached to my ole hobbit hole.

The Ever-loving Abigail

x

Occupying Myself with the Right Questions

Last night I stayed up and chatted about some of the happiest days/times/moments of my life.

The conversation was first sparked by someone asking “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”

I used to let this question play on my mind on a daily basis, I’d find myself chopping vegetables for dinner and asking myself, I’d find myself sitting on the lav, pondering… what was the worst thing I’d done that day, week, month, my life. These questions were a waste of time but I couldn’t escape them for many years. I wondered how I’d got to where I had – how my mental space had got so clouded and my heart so heavy.

I took a long time to transition from these questions and to adjust  from those low times in life in general. Those low periods of which I’m sure we all have the capacity to endure, no matter what hardships (or seemingly lack of) we face.

More recently I try to occupy myself with the right questions. What’s the best thing I’ve done today? What thing big/small can I aim to achieve? All these questions keep my mind open to the present and to the future.

It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. Where you wake up with  purpose. And that purpose doesn’t come from a search for something higher, something above and beyond yourself or even out of your reach. It’s not about getting that job, embarking on that relationship or carving out a solid path.

It comes from you, your core purpose is to wake up and just be your beautiful self, learn what you can from the day and find balance in whatever way you can. Everything else is just a bonus I suppose.

One of my happiest days I spent dressed as a bug running around a muddy field covered in face paint, beer and ketchup. I spent this mostly with strangers I’d met that day.

Another happy day I spent at Niagara Falls with travel companions I’d met two days before.

Another again, Anna, Holly and I spent the evening sipping cocktails on a long table in Paris. Speaking mostly pure nonsense with complete strangers.

My happiest days to come, who knows? I think a little family reunion in Seattle could definitely be up there. A date night in Victoria?

I’ll be content with some happy moments, I don’t need the whole day. Drinking sparkling juice in the shadow of The Chief sounds like a great start.

The Ever-loving Abigail

xx

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Squamish

It’ll be just over three months in Squamish when it’s time for me to leave in ten days.

I left the hostel last night, my first Canadian home and my first ‘Canadian’ (international) family. I’ve tried some new things, met some B E A U tiful people, for reals, special souls, and I’ve gained a lot of weight.

I thought it’d be a lot harder to leave, like ripping off a plaster. But moving to the campsite for ten days or so means I can transition a bit more slowly from my hostel life. I’ve been slowly saying goodbye to its residents over the last month or so, so it’s not my first rodeo.

There are a few people it’ll be a little harder to say goodbye to than others, but it’s alright. They’ll be around this part of the world for a while. A fair few have dreams of NZ too, just like me. Marcel, Raquel and Doug will all be heading that way, and Sam too eventually. Not anytime soon, but it’ll all be fun and games in the years to come.

For now though, it’ll be a chance to spread my wings and embark on a new adventure with ma kiwi boy. It’s been a bit of a scary prospect. Starting something with someone new. But I think I’m in the right head-space now.

I’ve learnt how to do me, so I suppose there might be room for someone else now. I’ll keep you posted ;).

To Victoria, Vancouver Island I go, 27th August. Watch this space.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

                                                      x

 

 

 

The First Quarter

An update on the superhero that is Alessandro. Despite falling to the deck from 50ft (onto his back from a solid-ass rock). The Italian baby is alive and well.

So no serious goodbyes just yet. Just the family parting very soon. My Squamish family will soon be moving their separate ways and on to other things.

I’ll head over to camp at The Chief for a few weeks and then head on my merry way. Wherever that will be.

I’ve been in Canada for more than three months now. Still pretty sweet sailing

The Ever-loving Abigail

Alessandro Fell

I don’t really know what to do right now besides write. I’m sitting at the hostel twiddling my thumbs and feeling shitty.

Our poor Italian baby, Alessandro, has been airlifted to Vancouver hospital after falling about 50ft from his climb over at the Smoke Bluffs. His legs were moving apparently, and his head seems okay… But I can’t really say. I wasn’t his climbing partner, I wasn’t there and I don’t know what state he was in. The other volunteers, my friends have headed to the hospital, approximately 50 minutes down the highway 99.

I don’t have a Canadian cell, so I can’t call them. I can just wait on facebook and hope that someone has the sense to update me on how our poor bubba is.

The risks with being an adventurer, from pushing yourself to the limits, is that these things happen. I’m surrounded by vulnerable travellers. Traveller’s for whom a steady hike doesn’t quite give them the thrills they’re after.

This reality check isn’t just reminding me of how much those around me are putting themselves in difficult situations on a daily basis. But it’s reminding me of how much of a family we are. My heart’s pounding in my chest and I just wish I could be there with him, with them all. I feel maternal for this boy, as though, while his Mama n Papa are back in Italy, we have some sort of responsibility for him. To be with him and to look after him.

These aren’t fleeting feelings of travel companionship. I love my friends I’ve made here these past few months and I’d do anything to protect my new family.

We’re all wanderers, joined so strongly by an invisible connection. Most of us have families and aren’t short of loved ones, but for some reason, we’ve all ended up across the world to be here at this time together. Away from what we knew, we’re learning and seeing new things every day.

I feel like I should just keep on writing until I hear some news… I don’t know what else to pass the time. Alessandro surfed for the first time yesterday and now he lays in a hospital bed. This afternoon we laughed together and spoke of his plans to head to London for a few days next week.

I shall go and be with my family now.

The Ever-Loving Abigail