Category: community resources


swimming in the rain

Just a quickie before I get back to my math… long-time readers will remember all the times I’ve gone on about how important the pools are for van living and how much I’ve come to love swimming. So it was with great joy that I discovered that the outdoor pools opened up last weekend, and today was my first visit ever to the one at New Brighton Park. Beautiful! Underwater was warm and the usual startling blue of swimming pools, but above the surface was the rainy grey vancouver day. Drops pattered and steam drifted over the water. Just past the fence, trees and enormous granaries and supertankers and misty mountains. And above us only sky…

June 4: Today I came back to New Brighton… I swear you get more energy breathing fresh air as you swim, I felt like I could keep going forever! Anyway this time I took a photo so y’all can see it:

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When you live in a house or an apartment the boundaries of your home are pretty obvious: you have a fence or walls that separate your living space from the rest of the world. As I was moving into the van one of my questions was, what are the boundaries of my new home? Can home really be everywhere? It’s been almost two months now, and I have a provisional answer.

The other day I was talking about my ‘modular’ home. There are functions of home that my van can’t fill, most obviously those of bathroom, kitchen, study; luckily there are many, many places all over the city that I can and do fill those needs. But do I feel at home everywhere in the city? No. Out of habit, or familiarity, or convenience, I’ve settled on Commercial Drive. The three B’s, in fact: Britannia Library, Britannia Pool, and Britannia Sushi! I’ve noticed that when I move my bedroom too far away from 3B I feel a little unsettled. I can usually find another ‘room’ nearby, which is an adventure and can be lots of fun of course, but it takes time and can get in the way of things I want to accomplish. I’ll generally just want to go ‘home’, which is where I’m familiar with all the rooms I need.

So that’s my answer, for now. If I can walk from my bedroom to the bathroom and the study and the kitchen, then I’m home. If I have to drive, I’m not. Once I’ve finished with all my applications I hope to add new rooms to my home, expanding throughout the city, but for the time being home is Commercial Drive.

The showers aren’t the only reason I’m going to the pool. I used to be a pretty avid bicyclist, but that was one of the things I had to give up moving into the van; there’s just nowhere to put a bike. I needed another way to stay active, furthermore I was never a strong swimmer and here was an opportunity to get better at it. I took a few lessons as a kid, but they didn’t stick very well.

The first time I went, a month ago now, I only did one lap. The next time I was able to do three, with rests in between, before I was tuckered out. Now I’m going every day, doing ten of breast stroke, and a few more of other strokes. The most important difference is, whereas I used to approach each end of the pool with gasping mad desperation and relief, now I’m just tired and exhilarated. I feel safe now; I guess that’s a kind of empowerment.

I also love the communityness of it. Most people there during the day are between 40 and 70, a whole range of ethnicities… people I just don’t come across in the other parts of my life.

I think by now even if I had a home with a shower I’d never use it, cause I shower every day at the pool, and I want swimming to stay a daily part of my life. I’m hooked!

8th & Scotia. This is the reason I’ve been spending so much time in Mount Pleasant… the Mount Pleasant Library got out of the creepy little hole in the mall that it was in, and moved into the new community centre at 8th & Kingsway. It has better hours than Britannia, lots of spots to plug in and use the wifi, and a little reading area with a fireplace. And considering it’s a smallish community library, they have a nice selection of books, and a great section on first nations issues.

Side note: last couple nights have been so warm I didn’t need to sleep in my toque, and last night was so warm there was no condensation on the windshield when I woke up. Wahoo!

the library

My van’s a small place. Sure I’m going to make it homey, but it’s kind of a given for me that I’ll be living out of it, not living in it. It’ll be like my sleeping quarters, and the whole city will be the rest of my house. I’m really excited about this: I’m going to be out in the world all the time. I think it’s going to give me a whole different perspective on things.

Today I scoped out the library, because I expect that’ll be one of my main haunts. Obviously I’ve been there before, but today’s the first time I’ve gone there with all the time in the world to read whatever I want, knowing that tomorrow I can come back and look at more, and the next day and the next day. I can learn whatever I want! Who knew? I can also charge my phone and computer at the desks, access free wifi, work on my sketchup and photoshop skills, draw stuff… that enormous curvy cathedral is going to be my daytime office!!! Ah, but I didn’t stay… I checked out my treehouse books and came back to my nice little apartment to read them. Gotta soak up the comfort while I still can!