Making Connections

Suggested Listening:

Delhi 2 Dublin – TumbiWOW

Tegan and Sara – Hang on the Night

As I sit here in the Ocean Island Inn hostel here in Victoria I can’t help, but feel so nostalgic. Almost a full 7 years ago I stayed here when I unexpectedly found myself selected to be one of the seventy five fans chosen to be part of Tegan and Sara’s live concert DVD filming “Get Along” which was filmed in Vancouver. Having only been to the west coast once prior to that trip I decided I’d spend a few days in Victoria as well. It was the first real time I was traveling completely alone and it felt so freeing. I remember making friends with this amazing woman named Hannah from Germany and just wanting to spend as much of my time in Victoria with her. After a couple of days in Victoria we ended up spending a night at an EcoVillage together and than parted ways. Having never been good at goodbyes I remember leaving a card for her in the book she was reading for her to find later. I still hope that my path will cross with her again one day if I make it to Germany.

After having now finished breakfast and the best sleep I can remember (prior to sleeping I had been awake for 43 hours with maybe the collective total of 1 hour of airplane “sleep”. To say I was exhausted would be a massive understatement. That said if you’re looking for a good way to be jet lag it seems like a pretty effective strategy. Surrounded by people from all over the world it feels a bit strange to be staring at screen than taking the time chat with them and learn their story. As an extrovert taking the time to reflect and look inward has always been a challenge for me and since a big part of this ride is about challenging myself it seems appropriate that I work through it as best I can.

With day one of my trip now over I already feel like I’ve been blessed to make so many incredible connections. Arriving at the airport in Hamilton early in the morning in the midst of a thunderstorm I worried that it was some kind of omen about the trip. Within in seconds though the staff at WestJet washed away that worry with their enthusiasm and helpfulness. She shared the great news that I wouldn’t need to check any of my luggage. Avoiding this was something I was really hoping to do so it was a great bit of news. As I waited in the line to go through security I couldn’t help, but feel pulled to talk with the woman behind me in line. The decision to do so was one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Within minutes I instantly felt a connection with Kelly and was so excited that she was traveling to Vancouver to visit her partner, before moving out there in fall. The idea of travelling to visit a partner just makes me feel so good on the inside. As someone that works regularly with youth it was super cool to learn that Kelly works for a great organization called “Me to We” supporting youth as well. We shared stories of the incredible youth wei’ve worked with over the years and how we both found our way into this kind of work. Despite the fact that she’s moving to Vancouver in the fall, I’m optimistic that we can form some kind of friendship beyond our time chatting in the airport as we waited to board the plane.

Kelly- thanks for being open and receptive to my conversation at 5am and sharing your own story. Thanks also for the hug as I left the plane in a rush! You have a beautiful soul!

Once on the plane I found myself seated next to Holly. We’ll actually I was seated elsewhere, but given the chance to move to a seat with more space so I gladly took it. Holly is from St.Catharines,but waitressing and living in Etobicoke these days. At 28 years old this is the first time she’s been on a plane in a very long time and she’s facing her fear of doing so she can spend some time with her cousin. While she didn’t say it I got the feeling from Holly that this year was going to be a big one for her. She seemed to be reflecting a lot of things in her life and I’m hopeful she’s able to find hat she’s looking for in life.

Holly- thanks for sharing your snacks and being such an attentive listener!

After getting off the flight from Hamilton to Vancouver I quickly rushed to make my connecting flight to Victoria. Naturally the need to rush was just my own anxiety putting that pressure on me as when I made it to the check in they hadn’t even started boarding the plane yet. This gave me the chance to chat with another woman that had also rushed to make it on time. Robin was heading to Kelowna via Victoria (which we both laughed about giving that it’s the opposite direction) for the bachelorette party of a close friend of hers. Chance had it that Robin and I were seated next to each other for our short ride to Victoria. Both of us visibly tired we didn’t chat much. I did learn though that she is working full time and completed her MBA. As someone that worked part time while completing my M.A years ago I know how intense that can be. I can’t imagine working full time. Very impressive.

Shortly after the plane ride I caught the city bus toward downtown. With one transfer I spent the first ride chatting briefly with a couple about the bike ride. He was from Calgary and her London. I didn’t learn much about them, but they were kind of enough to indulge. On the second bus though I I connected with this awesome guy named Alex. Working in web design for a while now he’s grown stale of projects he’s had coming his way and looking to see if more freelance work is available.As a cyclist himself he was quite excited for me and we bonded over our appreciation of Marinoni bikes. He has one himself and loves it. He shared that someone he works with took a similar ride to the one I’m taking and that he’d share the news of our ride with him and his other cycling friends. Conveniently our bus stop was the same and he directed me how to get to the hostel from there.

Once at the hostel I left my bags (since I was way too early to check in) and made my way down the pro vial legislature buildings where Tegan and Sara would be playing much later tonight. By most accounts waiting in the sun from 12pm to 8:30pm to see a band is crazy, but for my friend Julia and I anything else seemed so. Julia arrived at the barrier about 45 minutes and from there we spent hours catching up and getting to know each other better. Being so exhausted and hungry at times it felt like things were moving in slow motion. I was lucky to have her energy there with me to help keep me charged up enough until bands started performing around 5. Stupidly not putting any sunscreen on (despite Julia offering multiple times) I now have a bit of sunglasses burn/tan…. I can’t wait to see how it develops over the bike trip.

While waiting for the music to start I also had a chance to connect with a few folks that approached us. I noticed one guy wearing a shirt that said #END ALZ. So excited to chat with him about his shirt and the ride I quickly approached him before he wandered off to far. While we only chatted briefly, but I learned his name was Ray, he was here from Saskatchewan and that he had a tattoo about Alzheimer. We shared our own connections to the disease and if I’m remembering correctly he or himself he knows was just diagnosed with early on-set. I’m not one to believe in the idea that the universe or something divine sends us “signs” but what I can certainly say though is that getting the chance to meet Ray (if only briefly) before the ride felt really great.

After connecting with Ray, this lovely guy named Samah snapped a really cool photo of the stage that included Julia and I. He came by to chat with us for a bit and shared he was here visiting from LA and hanging his old friend school. I shared the details about the ride with Samah, his Eric and his girlfriend Helene. Eric was the first person in several years to connect the words “beauty in the breakdown” tattooed on my arm to the Imogen Heap song “Let Go”. It was cool to connect over these lyrics and tie them back to bike ride. They were all so supportive of it and seemed like really great folks. He can see the photo by visiting his Instagram account:

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With my best friend from childhood (and his girlfriend), we stopped our cycling journey on Canada Day (like America's 4th of July, but Canada's 1st of July) and met the two lovely friends sitting in front of the stage. One of the two, Nathan (on right) is about to embark on a 4650km bike trip from Vancouver, BC to Hamilton, ON in support of the Alzheimer Society of Canada ?? — check out his blog and support at wherewearenow.ca • • • • #Travel  #destinationearth #bucketdreamers #picoftheday #travel gram #stellarstories #lonelyplanet #travelphotography #theglobewanderer #passionpassport #lovetheworld #aroundtheworld #worldtravelbook #HappyBirthdayCanada #justgoshoot  #traveldeeper #athomeintheworld #passionpassport #VancouverIsland #awesomephotographers #huffpostgram #alzheimersawareness #clouds #cloudscape #red #white #cloud #urbanbeauty #Victoria #symmetry #canaday

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The day got even better when Jeremy (a close friend of Tegan and part of their crew) wandered past Julia and I. Having seen and chatted with him at a ton of other shows we chatted for a brief bit about how beautiful Victoria is and that he was actually moving here in a week. He also kindly agreed to give the letter I wrote to Tegan and Sara for me. In it, I explained how much their music and in particular the song “Hang on to the Night” has been in making it through some of the tough nights when I really missing mom.

Taking a brief break from sitting at the barrier I went to go look at the merchandise for sale and grab some food. The choice to do so afforded me the chance to connect with Julia, David and Katie selling merchandise. I spent most of the brief counter chatting with Julia. Like so many of the people I met, she was kind, friendly and excited for me about the trip.

After chatting with them I found my way to “Rok the Wok” food truck. Run by a few Australians I was pleased they had a vegan option for me. With so many people around for the concert, they asked if I was a local or visiting from elsewhere. Naturally, I took this as a chance to share the news of my bike trip and the reason for doing it. One of the staff working shared some cool news of research being done on Alzheimer’s in Australia that left me feeling super great about the work we’re doing to fundraise.

After getting a bit of food in me I made my way back to the barrier (which still had barely anyone near it) to catch some of the artists playing before Tegan and Sara. Of the few bands to play Rococode (Vancouver), Carmanah (Victora), and Delhi 2 Dublin I found myself enjoying the latter the most. I’d recommend checking them out if you don’t know their music.

Sometime during the music Julia and I made friends with this super awesome woman named Geraldine from Belgium. 26 years old, Geraldine is living in Vancouver for the year on a working visa and working towards a career in music photography. The way she talks about capturing the expression of music on the artists face was really cool. Geraldine, Julia and I bonded instantly (as big fans of Tegan and Sara often do) and we spent the show signing and dancing our hearts out. Afterwards we all hung out together and went hunting for some food. Eventually finding something after eating we were all pretty exhausted and after some “see you laters” (because I hate goodbyes) we parted ways. I didn’t cry… but as they say I definitely felt all the “feels”.

On top of meeting all of these beautiful people, there was, of course, the actual concert! Anyone that knows me knows that for me being at a Tegan and Sara concert really is the happiest place in the world. The whole show was amazing from start to finish, but I think perhaps my favourite part was when Tegan noticed me in the front row had this incredible look of excitement and surprise to see me here on the west coast. Julia was able to find a photo a photographer took of vegan at the exact moment which is pretty amazing as well. Julia and Geraldine pretty much lost their minds when it happened, haha. The show left me feeling recharged and ready to take on the world! We also all managed to get set list from the shows which will serve as a great reminder of our new found friendship.

Set List
The entire crowd (I’m in the very front)
Tegan’s reaction to seeing me in the crowd!

Anyways, a little bird (one of the photographers last night) told me the Arkells are sound checking at 11am and I’d like to catch it so I’m off for now…

To be continued…

Okay! I’m back from the sound check! Well not back in the hostel, but rather sitting next to this beautiful little human made garden listening to the water flowing and some traditional Chinese music as dancers perform. It’s quite a lovely environment to sit down and write in. With the sound check finished (they sounded great) I had the chance to catch up with Max for a short bit and telling him about the ride. The whole time I was chatting with him I couldn’t help, but think of my friend Anna that loves the band. She’s currently making her way around Asia having started her own journey back in New Zealand months ago. She’s got a great blog that I can’t recommend enough. Check it out here: https://annaabroadweb.wordpress.com/author/annaabroadweb/

Before continuing with my wandering for the day, Max shared that they’re doing a small pop up show at 2pm in addition to their headline performance tonight to close off the Canada Day ceremonies. With no plans today besides enjoying the perfect weather in the sun I welcomed the news with excitement! For now, though I’m going to make my way back to the hostel to drop off my keyboard and iPad.

Much love,
Nate

 

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