Like Oregon Pinot Noir and American Apparel earth tones, I pair well with pretty much everything, unless it is a bad mood. Yesterday morning I found myself quite the angry bitch after Sebastian had to cancel our plans for the weekend. Hungover and cranky, I crawled out of bed and decided that I had two options ahead of me: I could (a) curl up in the fetal position, listen to City and Colour and feel sorry for myself or (b) climb to the top of a mountain. And so I put on my new brown Gap shorts, picked up a coffee at Starbucks, and walked over to catch the shuttle bus at Canada Place.
The sun was shining and the ocean was glistening when I arrived at the major tourist destination. Surrounded by 10,000 different languages and some of the most horrific fashion humankind has ever stitched, I stood in line to buy my ticket to Grouse Mountain. The man behind the kiosk was dressed in a black bow tie and a smile so bright that I almost needed an extra pair of sunglasses.
“How are you today my good sir?” he beamed.
“Great,” I said, curbing my enthusiasm. My throat was raspy from the previous night’s bottomless conversation and stimulating red wine.
“One ticket to Grouse, please."
"And what a wonderful day for it! That will be $50, we accept cash or credit" he said.
Since I stopped serving tables two months ago, the only paper money I had in my wallet was a crumpled American dollar bill I earned hailing a cab for a guest. I passed him my VISA card and crossed my fingers the portable machine would say approved.
“Whereabouts are you visiting from?” he asked. It was obvious from his persistence that he was starving for conversation. To his credit, I was probably the only person that spoke English who visited his booth in the last three months.
“I just live down the street,” I said, offering him a full-sentence in exchange for my day-pass and complimentary brochure.
“Isn’t this the most beautiful place on earth?” he parted with me.
“I will let you know once I get to the top of the mountain.”
There are two ways that you can climb to the peak of Grouse. You can slave up the mountain with a bottle of water and an Olympic will to live, or you can take my route.
Once the free shuttle bus opened its door in front of me, I took an air-conditioned seat at the back and relaxed in to the cushioned seat. Driving over the Lion’s Gate Bridge, I listened to the Chinese bus driver give me a tour of Vancouver one fragmented sentence at a time.
At the base of the mountain I took the Gondola to the Chalet where I stopped for a cold pint to catch my breath. After that, I took inappropriate photos of a super-hot Lumberjack and introduced myself to the resident Grizzly bears. Sitting down once again to climb the next part of the mountain, I imagined how nice it would be if the kind staff offered you a glass of bubbles as the chair lift whisked you away.
Finally at the summit, I walked over to this gigantic wind-mill creation, and took the elevator to the observation deck. Exhausted from my journey 4,000 feet above the sea, I looked out as far as my prescription glasses could take me. From where I was standing, Vancouver looked like a miniature 3D puzzle of itself. I could squish it with my thumb or scoop it up in the palm of my hand. Within minutes, my problems began to shrink to the same size as my apartment.
I cannot tell a lie when I type that the last few months have been difficult. I understand that change, adaptation, and evolution are necessary for survival; but they sure make life a bitch.
Last April, I was booking a flight and moving truck back to the prairies. I was fed up serving tables and couldn’t envision a life for myself here that didn’t involve opening bottles of wine or chasing twenty-percent tips. As a full-time server, my brain was atrophying at the same rate my liver was damaging, and I was in desperate need of a change.
Then, at the beginning of May, my life changed forever. In less than 72 hours the fuchsia rhododendrons outside my apartment bloomed, the restaurant offered me a promotion to management and Sebastian Elliot left his phone number for me to call. Come the first of June, I had changed my address to a pretentious sky-rise downtown and signed my life over to truffle spaghetti and meatballs.
I can tell you, in all honesty, that I never dreamed of becoming a restaurant manager.
I can also tell you, in all honesty, that sometimes dreams change.
For the past three years, I have been fighting the profession I have always called home. I have spent more time in restaurants than anywhere else in this life. I have served some of the craziest people this planet has to offer, and served amongst some of the most brilliant individuals I have ever met. As much as I hate the job sometimes, I am finally at peace that, if given the choice, I wouldn’t do anything else. One day in the next ten years, I hope to run a small café of my own. For now though, my path in life is to take each day one ten-hour shift at a time.
When I got home from the mountain, it was clear that I was not going to see Sebastian on my days off - but that was okay. I put myself in the shower, sprayed on some Tom Ford cologne and walked across the street to the neighbourhood Italian restaurant. On the red-n-white checker table-cloth patio, I ordered a six-dollar glass of house wine and dropped the paper napkin across my lap. Like Carrie Bradshaw before me, I reminded myself that sometimes when you are in a relationship with another man, you forget to take care of the most important of all, the one you have with yourself.