“That’s an interesting name,” most people say when they first meet me. “How’d you get it?” I explain that I was born in the seventies in a small town in the Kootenays. If a blank look crosses their face, I quickly add, “My parents were hippies.”
Hippies indeed. My mother and father, along with two other couples, purchased a substantive piece of forested heaven just outside Golden in the mid-seventies.
In an effort to leave city life behind, they cast aside the comforts of normalcy to “live off the land.” An experience that could only be made real by checking into an abode that had neither hot running water nor electricity.
And, for the first few years of life, that was my reality. Fortunately, practicality won out and in the early 80s, we were blessed with a link to electricity.
With a sigh of relief, we traded our kerosene lamps for light switches, storage of perishables in the creek for a real fridge, and a strict reliance on a wood burning stove for the modern convenience of a hot plate.
But getting electricity did not solve the lack of plumbing. Sure, the house had running water, but not running water as you would imagine. Soothing, perfectly tempered water didn’t flow effortlessly from a stainless steel tap into a glossy, white porcelain sink, lined with fluffy hand towels.
Instead, stiff, black plastic hoses pumped frigid creek water into the house, where it rained heavily into an antique, cast-iron, claw-footed bathtub.
We had no sink, just this massive, multi-purpose catch-all, that also doubled as a tub.
So, how, you might ask, does one who had such a modest upbringing, adapt to city life?
To be honest, it wasn’t particularly difficult. I have my 600 square feet of condo living in Kitsilano, sport the job in an office building downtown, and have a thorough addiction to the coffee company that’s taking over the world, one Vancouver city block at a time.
I haven’t resorted to adopting a pint-sized dog and dressing it up in a camouflage jacket yet (yes, I did see that on the streets of Yaletown today), but I am well-established in urbanity.
But while I have come to love city living, I can’t deny that a little “granola” blood still courses through my veins. I mean, look at me, I’m a writer, for goodness sakes. I think that’s a passion many from that generation can identify with.
And in addition to my very mainstream major in criminology, which I must add was obtained from ex-hippy haven Simon Fraser University, I have an extended minor in archaeology. What would make a parent from that era more proud?
Perhaps if I were to look at my day-job with the federal government through the lens of my quirky upbringing, it would be defined as “selling out.”
But I think the work I do around crime prevention from a social development perspective is in line with the values of that peace-loving generation. Certainly more so than the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” philosophy that’s making headway in the political field right now.
So, what can you expect from me as a regular contributor to The Vancouver Observer? Well, I hope to be able to use my unique perspectives to bring you genuine pieces about the issues and complexities of urban living.
I believe my own interesting upbringing leaves me with a curiosity about the individuals who live in our city, those who have the most unexpected stories to tell and those that make our city so wonderfully surprising, and just, well, so wonderfully Vancouver.