Remembering Vancouver: English Bay in Winter

English Bay, Downtown Vancouver

Photo set on Flickr

During my teen years, when the rainy season began and sunlight became a rarity, I would sometimes find myself in Downtown.  Reasons would vary – a Grizzlies game, a dinner and drink with friends, or an aimless walk.  But every single time, after bidding goodbye to whoever I was with, I would feel the pull from English Bay and walked along Denman Street to this far side of Downtown.

The playground like atmosphere during the summer had been replaced by an unequivocal stillness that was only methodically interrupted by the sound of waves.  The constant light drizzle had driven away everyone except for the rare lonely soul.

I enjoyed the loneliness, which was a constant in my life but the feeling of such was magnified at this otherwise unexceptional beach.  The opportunity for such indulgence of self-absorption had a limited time frame; once the calendar flipped to March the crowd would return to Stanley Park and English Bay.

The moisture would attach to my face and body, causing my body temperature to drop rapidly.  My limbs slowly became numb.  I would close my eyes and gradually my mind cleared up as I lost my sense of my whereabouts.

After an hour or two, I would gather my thought and dragged myself to Granville Street to catch the bus back home.  The bus was a microcosm of Downtown at large – mostly deserted with a few drunks blabbing to themselves.  The music playing on my MP3 player shielded me from the outside world as the bus continued to head south.

I moved to an apartment that was a 15-minute walk from English Bay during my Grade 12 year.  The urge to visit the beach was gone, perhaps ironically due to its proximity.  When I wished for some quiet time, I would instead drive away from Downtown to Kits or Spanish Banks.

When I got into a stable relationship during my university years, we would sometimes take the short walk from my place to catch the sunset at English Bay. Amazingly, of after all these times to the beach, I had never seen the sunset there.

I have never visited English under the rain again.  Those memories of complete stillness and roaring waves would be forever in my mind, associated with a time that is getting further and further into the past.


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