It was as if a Fairy Godmother had descended from a dusty cloud of stars, waved her wand and transformed me from face-paced urban snob to laid-back coastal hippie. The sea-salt-curled hair, keene sandals, drying wetsuit, and “it’s all good, man” attitude were just a few signs that I was no Manhattan-bred fashion plate slumming it for a holiday in trendy BoHo digs. Tofino, British Columbia, was rapidly molding me into someone genuinely, contently crunchy.
Even though I abhor the west coast and all its pretentious talk of laid-back living, every time I head to Vancouver, I start to rewrite my life-plan. I vow to give up my East Coast art world habitat for a slower life on the side of a mountain next to the sea.
British Columbia’s coast offers me everything I need to keep me happy: family friends as a social network, a viable art market, an overabundance of artisanal foods and locally-raised edibles and a cadre of outdoor activities.
For most people, a vacation is a break from reality. When my parents were first married, they lived in Vancouver, so for me, a vacation in Vancaouver and the surrounding landscape offer a legitimate alternative reality.
It was a disarming realization.
As at home as I felt in Vancouver, it was the far west Vancouver town of Tofino that got under my skin. The girl who lived in the fast lane and never dined out wearing anything less than a Diane von Fraustenberg frock and 3-inch heels had reset her watch to Tofino time (west coast time, or 1/2 NYC time, halved again), and “will she ever recover?” was a fair question to ask.
I woke up at sunrise to do yoga on the beach. Half my days were spent on a surfboard or hiking in a rainforest. I went out to dinner sans make-up, totting a Kelty backpack for a purse, dressed in a tee-shirt and still-wet all-terrain shoes that had just survived an afternoon kayaking expedition. I hadn’t showered since Sunday. It was Tuesday. My biggest daily decision was: do I wear the long yoga pants, or the cropped running capris?
I returned home for the first time begrudgingly. I refused to move the “Tofino App” off my droid’s homepage and continue to check the daily swell report.
Don’t be surprised if one day you find me walking down Main Street, Tofino. Instead of having Glenn Lowry’s post at MoMA, I’ll own an art gallery/kayak-shop/bakehouse called The Former Urbanite and spend my off-days surfing.
And instead of that proverbial rich boyfriend, I’ll have a boyfriend named Harmony. He’ll have long curly blond hair and we’ll walk through the coastal rainforests holding hands, neatly matched in our tie-dyed shirts.