I’m On Island again today. And ridiculously happy to be here. This is, after all, my home. This is the place I have always known by heart.
I went out last night with my old friend Neil, whom I have known for just about ever. We met down at the 24/7 diner, at one in the morning, back when we were both living in the quasi-bohemian Victorian late-teen underground. He used to hang out and play go with a mutual friend down at Java, the alternative coffeehouse that shut down in 2000. I used to hang out down there as well, back in 1998 or so, to drink coffee and smoke and read SPIN in one of the armchairs. Neil’s living in Japan now, teaching English, with no intention of coming home anytime in the next few years, but was able to time his visit home with mine this weekend. Which makes me exceptionally happy. Neil is one of my oldest friends for a reason, because he is simply one of the most amusing and droll individuals I know.
So we ended up drinking martinis at the Mint last night, which is pure New Victoria. It was inhabited by couples and groups in our age/demographic, in a room lit by candles and subtle lights on the exposed brick walls. It was decorated with masks and local art, serves tapas and an extensive creative martini list, and had a DJ spinning some exceptionally outstanding downbeat in a corner. It was the sort of place I’d cheerfully inhabit if it existed in L.A. – but it wouldn’t. It wasn’t quite shiny enough to be Westside, too dark to be Venice, too nouveau/faux-intellectual to be Silverlake, too downbeat to be Hollywood. Very new Victoria. And with outstanding martinis for $6.25 CDN.
I drove home, late last night, along the water by Dallas Road, so I could see the full moon reflecting off the Straits, and watch Port Angeles glittering on the Olympic Peninsula, and be totally at peace with myself and Victoria. It’s just good to be home sometimes, someplace quiet, where I can have an ocean road to myself at 3AM, where I can breathe clean air that’s come across the water from the snowcapped mountains, where I can drink water right out of the tap. Where I can swim without worrying if the water will infect open wounds (although I do have to worry about hypothermia)
On that note, I’m off to take the dog around Oak Bay, because it’s gorgeous outside, and the air is scented with the dozens of rose gardens and honeysuckle bushes that spill out of the yards across the municipality. I’m off to the beach, and the Village, and all the other corners of my home town. It’s good to be home.