City Mouse, Country Mouse

A couple of weeks ago, despite my best olive attempts, the rat race of city life was getting me down. So I dragged Z to a fishing-village-now-tourist-town on the coast for a restorative weekend.


dog on chesterman beach
This guy had a great time

It was beautiful, and I remembered something I’d forgot.

In some places, there are no municipal bylaws prohibiting bonfires. You can just go to the beach with a pallet and driftwood and have a fire. Roast marshmallows, etc. Remarkable! We did not do this, but I did stare in amazement. I thought: “I bet if we went up to them and introduced ourselves, we could sit by that fire too.” Everyone we saw seemed friendly and relaxed.

One night, we ventured out of our sleepy bucolic retreat to find seafood (there’s nothing like the great outdoors to whet your appetite for crab and garlic butter). The waitress was very friendly (another perk, it seems, of country living), and after 2 gin-and-tonics, I felt I could share too.

Me: “We’re here to take a break, to get away for the weekend.”

Waitress: “Ha! That’s so funny – I was just saying to my girls, let’s go to the city and blow off some steam! I want to go shopping somewhere that sells more than just rain gear!”

I felt like such a city mouse. Me – craving a quiet weekend, she – wanting to move a little faster, being so guileless with strangers. I never feel like a city-mouse until I’m visiting somewhere slower, and then I start to notice differences. I’ll think about what it would be like to live there, and I’ll become anxious.

I’ll think: “Really, no Indian take-out options at all?”, “What kind of emergency facilities?” or: “That’s the shoe selection?”

I’ve mentioned before that Vancouver has changed a lot since my parents were young. This chart, which I’ve borrowed from a UBC site, shows population trends:

vancouver population trends


Perhaps this is why I have some cosmopolitan friends. The bigger a city gets, the more international its inhabitants become. Some of my friends are so jet-set, it blows my mind. When we were tweens, we had bad skin and speculated about the mysteries of the penis together – pretty ordinary pubescent stuff. Now, I realize they speak more than one language, and say things like: “Yes, we’ll be spending Christmas in Beijing”, or “I can’t come – I’ll be in London that week, for work.”

Me: “Ooh, I like your shirt.”

Friend: “Thanks! It’s just Naf Naf. I was surprised to find something so cute – French fashion is so far behind British fashion.”

On the outside, I’m like: “Totally, yeah. French fashion is for losers. I’m just like you.”

Inside: “Man, I am such a country bumpkin.”

That’s right – with those friends, I’m the country mouse!


But you know what? When I’m the city mouse, I never look at the country mouse and think: “You hick!” My extreme, super-city mouse friends – they’re probably not looking at me thinking: “Ugh, I can’t believe she doesn’t know her French ready-to-wear discount chains.”

The other night, I saw some friends who now split their time between Europe and Asia (So glam!). We were chatting about when we’ll see each other again, and one said: “I love Vancouver, but I feel like I’ve seen all there is to see. It’s so sleepy here. Let’s just meet up in other places.”

The jig was up. Was I going to trash-talk my hometown?

Me: “I dunno, I’m partial to Vancouver. I’ll still meet you in other places, but I really like it here. I think this is one of the great loves of my life, this city.”

Friend: “Yeah, ok. I can see that. It’s beautiful here.” (laughs) “Want to meet up in Vegas?”

Me: “Absolutely.”

So there you have it. I guess I’m neither city mouse nor country mouse – I’m a Vancouver Mouse! But willing to travel.

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