Happy Labour Day!

Taking the day off today. Thinking of going down to walk the Government House grounds, which should be open (and lovely).

Not much to report on the immigration side of things. I’m still waiting for my employer to write up a letter of support (and trying not to think about the potential implications of them dragging their feet there).

I also found out that if invited to apply for permanent residence, I’ll need a police report from the FBI (!), which they’ll only give out if you pay for it (of course) and provide them with fingerprints. They only take ink-and-paper for folks not currently living in the US (like me), and it has to be in a certain format, on a certain kind of paper…Oof.

Luckily, Canada has (once again) come through. I found a non-profit with a service for taking FBI-standard fingerprints, precisely for people like me that need them to immigrate. I’ve got an appointment there, but not till later this month, which means…more waiting.

So while I’m waiting (and you’re hopefully getting ready to spend Labour Day with family or friends), here’s some shots I took from the top of Mount Doug on Saturday, after hiking up there for the first time.

View from the east side of Mount Doug, looking south-ish
Another view from the east side, looking north-east over Cordova Bay
View from the west side, of my new home! I live near that white oval in the far-left of the shot.
The author regrets to inform you that he does not know how to take a proper selfie.

Le Canada Sans Voiture

So this week it’ll be five months since I moved to Victoria.

Five months! It’s hard to believe. Most days it feels like I’ve only been here a few weeks.

I attribute that — mostly — to the fact that I’m still exploring. I’ve my routines, sure. Groceries every Sunday from the nearest Save-On Foods, weekend pizza from Panago, tacos from Café Mexico when I need that taste of home.

But I’m still learning about all the holidays, and the politics, and even the weather, out here. And deliberately pushing myself to go out of my normal loops, discovering parts of the island I wouldn’t normally see. Like this past weekend, when I went hiking around Elk Lake (absolutely gorgeous, go if you get a chance, the photo at the top of this post is from Beaver Lake, just south of Elk).

Thankfully, to do all this exploring, I’ve not (yet) needed something that would have been critical back in the States: A car.

True, I’ve got my BC Drivers License. And my apartment allots one parking space (for an extra fee). But I came up without a car, partly as an experiment (nothing pushes you to learn public transport like being vehicleless) and partly out of expedience: The Bolt EV I drove back in San Diego is currently under recall, and you can’t import a recalled car to Canada.

Hence the need for an apartment in downtown Victoria, where I knew I could at least get the essentials on foot. What I didn’t know was how long I could go without getting a car, especially if I wanted to take advantage of being close to so much natural beauty (which I definitely do). Or do normal things like, say, head to the mall, or get to the airport, etc.

Back home in San Diego, for example, there’s only one bus that goes to the airport, and it’s on a very short route with an infrequent schedule. So unless you happen to live basically on Harbor Drive (the road to the airport), it’s useless. And the city has a trolley, but it’s designed mainly for bringing tourists from their hotels north of downtown to the downtown district, and nothing else. My wife and I tried living in San Diego without a car when we first moved there, but it was miserable, and we gave up after a few months.

In contrast, here in Victoria — a city about one-third the size of San Diego — I’ve been getting along just fine. It helps that the city itself is rather compact, so I can reach most parts of it by foot.

Now, “by foot” has expanded in scope a bit since my move. Back in San Diego the twenty-minute walk I take to my local Indigo bookstore would be a non-starter. Getting to any mall like Mayfair in San Diego would involve trying to cross a freeway or two, which is not something you really want to do on foot (and that’s assuming there’s even sidewalks to take you there). But here, the walk’s a twenty-minute stroll along a tree-lined street past smaller shopping centres, apartment buildings, and parks. It’s not a chore. It’s pleasant.

But what about reaching the airport? I’ve had to do this twice since moving here, and there’s multiple options. One is to fly out of Vancouver, which means taking a bus (there’s two routes that go from Victoria to the ferry terminal, running every fifteen minutes or so most days) to the ferry (which is awesome) and then connecting to YVR.

The second is to fly out of Victoria’s own airport, which means taking a bus (again, pick one of several routes) and then walking past some fields to the airport. No car required. (and if you don’t want to bother with changing buses, etc, there’s a reasonably-priced BC Ferries Connector that can take you all the way from downtown Victoria to Vancouver airport).

Getting to Elk Lake, which is a good 13km north of me, was again a matter of just hopping on a bus (there are five routes, at last count, that can get me up there) for a short ride north. I’m looking to hike Mount Doug next, and that’ll again be a direct bus ride out to the park.

Granted, I don’t have children; needing to ferry them around to school and activities might push me to get a car. And I live in the city itself, not one of the suburbs, like Langford.

But still. In the States, no city this small would have even a fraction of this kind of public transportation. No city this small would be this walkable, either. They wouldn’t bother building the sidewalks, to start with, and they wouldn’t be as safe (cities in the States actually get more dangerous, statistically, as they shrink in size).

So I’m happy to be car-free. We’ll see if I can make it the full year, though (because winter is coming).

Back in the CSSR*

After spending just one week in the States, it’s good to be back in Canada.

I literally felt the muscles in my shoulders and neck relax as I passed through the Passport Check in Vancouver. It’d been a smooth border crossing, starting with the ability to fill out my Customs Declaration completely online, before I even got on the flight. So when I landed in YVR, I only had to go to one of the (many, open) kiosks, have my photo taken, and bring the printed receipt plus my passport and work permit over to the nearest Border Services Officer (no line, no waiting this time). Said Officer chatted me up as she checked over my documents, and sent me on my way with a “Good luck!” (in my work).

Contrast the experience of flying into the US, where I had to go through security twice, then fill out a customs declaration on the spot, then get interviewed by a border guard who growled at me while eyeing me suspiciously. Brrr.

I was supposed to catch a connecting flight from Vancouver to Victoria, which left me with three hours to kill in the airport. But when I reached my gate, I noticed an earlier flight (which I didn’t think I’d make, and thus didn’t book) hadn’t boarded yet, and was leaving in half an hour. On a whim, I walked up to the desk and asked if they could get me on that flight. Without rolling her eyes, or sighing, or telling me there’d be fees involved, the agent just said “Sure,” found me a seat, and printed out a new boarding pass right there!

From the Victoria airport, I decided against waiting for the first bus, and instead walked for about 15 minutes through forested parkland and farm-lined roads before coming to the main exchange, where a five minute wait had me on a bus heading directly downtown. The view from the bus stop was so good I had to take a few pictures; the shot at the top of this post is one of them. Forty minutes later, I was back at the apartment, safe and sound.

I’ve spent a lot of time knocking the Canadian Healthcare system here, and it has been the most surprising and frustrating part of the move. But so many things are better here than in San Diego: The roads are better maintained, the buses are cleaner, bigger (they have double-deckers here), and run more frequently. People are friendlier, as the cliché goes, but more than that, they seem genuinely interested in helping. Whether that’s the ICBC clerk giving you your driving exam, or the passenger next to you on the plane whom you solicit advice on local hikes from. That attitude extends into infrastructure — the roads, yes, but also even the water fountains are better designed, having spigots at the top now for easily refilling water bottles — and the way events are run, like the ASL interpreter at the Canada Day celebrations.

In short, I can relax in Canada because I feel I don’t need to do everything on my own, here. There’s help available (for the most part, see healthcare) if I need it. And that makes all the difference.

*Not a political comment, just a play on The Beatles’ “Back in the USSR”

Three Things I Loved About My First Canada Day

As someone who grew up in the States, I’m used to celebrating July 4th, but I’m not used to really enjoying it. The fireworks are often cool, but the sheer volume of jingoism and military parades rub me the wrong way. They always made me feel out of place, like anything less than my-country-or-else patriotism wasn’t welcome. Not to mention the holiday itself is set on the absolute wrong day; the Declaration of Independence has absolutely no legal standing, and nothing to do whatsoever with the way the US is governed or the rights of its citizens (bringing this up at the Fourth, of course, is an easy way to get glared at).

So I was unsure what to expect for Canada Day. I’m also by myself, so no family or friends to go hang with. Thankfully, the City of Victoria threw a celebration downtown, right on the harbor, which turned out to be just about perfect.

Here’s three things I liked about this year’s celebration:

The Community

The first thing was having a community celebration at all. San Diego’s a city three times the size of Victoria, but if you look for their events for the Fourth, they’ve got the fireworks show at night, and a pub crawl, and…that’s it. No concerts, no closing off streets and setting up street vendors, nothing. The Fourth is meant to be celebrated at home, with family, and that’s it.

Which is fine if you’ve got a large family, or network of friends, but for a new immigrant like me, I was incredibly grateful to have the city’s Canada Day celebration to go to. It was completely free, with a central concert stage, bleachers on the hill facing, flanked by an open-air market and a bevy of food trucks. Oh, and a bouncy-castle style playground for the kids. And yes, there were flags, and people were wearing maple leaf shirts (and umbrella hats), but it was all low-key. No military fly-overs, just folks from all over the city out having a good time. I fit right in, and that felt great.

The Inclusivity

Speaking of fitting in, one of the reasons I wanted to go down to the celebration on Friday was to see all the shows they had lined up. They had Native dancers as part of the opening ceremonies, and Ukrainian dancers, and Chinese lion dancers, and…Just a whole host of people and communities that I’d never seen perform before.

In fact, it struck me that I’d never seen Native performers before, in person. Not in forty-three years of living in the United States. There’s never been a Fourth celebration that I’ve heard of or attended where Native Americans participated; they’ve probably never even been asked.

Now I know Canada’s record here is very far from blameless. The residential schools, the Oka Crisis, the conflicts over land and self-government that continue to this day. But one of the things Thomas King remarked on in his The Inconvenient Indian is how often colonial governments want to make native peoples invisible, to make exploiting them all the easier. And in this case, at least, the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers were making themselves more visible, right there on stage.

I confess it moved me, and as I watched them dance, followed by the Ukrainian dancers, the listened to the Ukrainian choir, then watched Chinese lion dancers jump and gambol in front of the stage, I realized they’d turned Canada Day into a celebration of diversity, instead of a suppression of it.

The Scope

That inclusivity was a reflection of another thing I noticed and liked: the breadth of the celebration.

Again, unlike the US, this wasn’t a primarily military holiday. No call-and-response about army figures who “died for our freedom.” Not that the military was absent, mind you — they had a booth in the market where they were recruiting, excuse me, “hiring” (as they put it) — just that they weren’t the focus.

So there was plenty of room for a Ukrainian choir, talking up the deep connections between Ukraine (many Ukrainians settled the Canadian plains) and Canada. And room for a local white blues musician. And for a Guinean-led band. And for a Vancouver-based electronic group. And for every announcement to be interpreted live in ASL by a woman standing prominently on the stage.

And for me.

Summer Arrives in BC

It’s too damn hot to want to do anything, really.

Just when you think you’ve adjusted, some internal thermostat finally clicking over to “This is Fine,” the humidity kicks up another ten percent or the breeze you were depending on just to be able to breathe drops away or the thermometer slides up another degree or two. And then you’re right back where you started, standing in front of the floor fan with your shirt raised and the blinds shut tight to keep out the traitorous sun. Waiting. Wondering what’ll give up first, you or the heat.

And you think fondly — yes, fondly, now! — on early spring, when buds were just starting to poke shyly out from the trees and the sky was still dark and cold. And wet. God, you remember rain pattering against the windows and wind rattling the panes but you were safe inside, weren’t you? Not breaking out in a sweat just from crossing the room.

You do not, ever, think of winter. Winter was worse.

Going Native

So I’ve decided to apply for permanent residence here in Canada.

I know, many people apply for PR first, before they upend their lives and move thousands of miles. But I went for the work permit to start, since a) It was faster, and b) I didn’t know if I’d like it here.

After my gushing last week about how much I love living in Victoria, that second reason might sound silly. Canada’s safer than the US, with a smaller prison population, more public transit, and (generally) better health outcomes. What’s not to like?

And yet I worried. I’m 43, well past the age most folks immigrate. I worried I’d be unable to adjust to a new system, and end up clueless how to take the bus, or rent a car, or handle my finances. I worried I’d encounter a version of the ice-cold reception I got in Seattle, and never get a chance to meet new people. I worried it would be too cold, or too rainy, or cloudy, for me to ever dream of going outside the apartment.

I worried, in short, that Canada would reject me. Spit me out like a bad piece of gristle, sending me back to San Diego on the next plane.

But — so far, at least — that hasn’t happened. I have had to depend entirely on the kindness of strangers in order to navigate the various bureaucracies here, but so far, that help has been forthcoming. From the ICBC clerk who told me exactly how and where to send over my driving record to lower my insurance premiums, to the librarian who quietly reminded me that my “password” for using the self-checkout was probably the final part of my phone number.

It’s only been two months, and already, I want to stay.

So I’m assembling the pieces I’ll need to apply for Express Entry. The first part was an assessment of my college degree, to see if it meets Canada’s standards for university credit. That’s done (and my degree passed!), so now it’s on to the next piece: Taking an internationally-recognized test of English skills to verify my fluency. I’m not too worried about the test, but I’m going to take some practice exams anyway, just in case.

Once that’s done, all I’ll need is a letter from my current employer that they intend to keep me on for at least a year after I get PR status. I certainly hope they’ll be okay providing such a letter!

At that point, I’ll be able to apply. But I’m going to take one more step: Take an exam for French proficiency.

I studied French for two years in college, and I’ve brushed it up every now and then. It’s been good enough when I’ve needed it, on trips to France, so that I could get by without English. I’ve never kept up with it enough to get fully fluent, though. That’s going to change.

I found out that in 2020 they changed the rules in Canada. If your main language is English, and you test well in French (thus proving you can communicate in both official languages), they’ll give you an extra 50 points on your application. To put that in perspective, the current cutoff for getting invited to apply for permanent residency is just 66 points. So if I do well on this test, I can boost my application up and really increase my chances of getting through.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Submit my initial application as soon as possible, and then study, study, study, for the French exam. I’m hoping to be ready to take it sometime in October, which means I’d be able to update my application with the results before the end of the year.

Wish me luck!

Three Things I Love About Living in Victoria

When I made the move from San Diego up to Victoria, BC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never been to British Columbia before, hadn’t even been to Canada except for a brief trip to Toronto in 2019 (which was great, despite it being November and thus cold as hell). I’d heard good things from people who’d vacationed on Vancouver Island, but stopping by in the place for a night or two is one thing, living there is altogether different.

So two months in, I’m happy to report that I love it here. I feel like I really lucked out with my choice of apartment and city; if anything, I’m kicking myself for not moving out here sooner.

Here’s three of the many reasons I’ve fallen in love with Victoria:

The Size

Even though it’s the largest city on Vancouver Island, Victoria is incredibly walkable. From my apartment (which is on the edge of Chinatown and Harris Green, near North Park, aka nowhere particularly interesting in and of itself, and outside the core) it’s a ten minute walk to the Save-On Foods, there are two coffeeshops within two blocks, and the Parliament Buildings (where the BC provincial government meets) are just twenty minutes hike south.

It’s not just the distance that make it walkable, of course. There’s gotta be sidewalks (check), bike lanes to keep the walkways free for pedestrians (check, there’s so many people biking around town), and cross-walks clearly marked plus lights so getting across the street is safe (check!). One of the main bridges between Victoria and West Victoria/Esquimalt has about one-third of its width dedicated just to pedestrians and bike traffic.

So far, I’ve only found one place in the entire city (and I’ve been walking 10-20 km every weekend, exploring) where the sidewalks end, and that was in a super-ritzy neighborhood on a one-way street heading down to the beach. I’ll forgive it. All this infrastructure and density add up to a city where you not only can walk everywhere, you kind of want to, because…

The Outdoors

It’s gorgeous out there!

Seriously, I swear there’s a park every few blocks. And most of the streets are lined with trees as tall or taller than the buildings. And they’ve lined most of the coast with public parks, so you’re never far from being able to see, hear, and smell (not always pleasant, I’ll grant) the ocean.

I grew up in West Texas, where the deserts of the Southwest meet the central prairies. Trees were few and far between; you were more likely to see briars and thorns growing in a yard than grass. Forests were things I’d read about, but never seen.

So to be dropped onto Vancouver Island, a temperate rainforest, is like a kid’s dream come true.

In one of my first weekends here, I grabbed a locally-written book about walking/hiking trails in the area (from one of the five (!) bookstores within walking distance) and I’ve been working my way through it. Granted, these are all managed parklands — no wilderness trails for me, yet — but hiking through them, I feel like a little kid again, exploring the fields around my house with a backpack and a compass.

There was a point last weekend when I was hiking through Highrock Park where, towards the top, I came to a stop in a little clearing. No one else was up there. It was just me, and the trees, and the rain. I couldn’t hear the city. No traffic, not even a dog bark. Simply glorious.

Not that I mind my fellow Victorians, though, because…

The People

They really are nicer!

One of the many things I worried about, moving up here, was that it would be like Seattle. I found Seattle to be absolutely dreadful; unlike Portland, no one at Seattle seemed to want to acknowledge my existence, let alone my humanity. I visited the library, and in that hall of cold glass and stone I made the mistake of trying to take the elevator between floors. When the doors opened, there were a handful of people in it, all spread out to occupy the whole space. When I asked if they could scooch in so I could get inside, they just stared at me, vacantly, like they could not even contemplate making way for someone else.

Brrr.

Thankfully, my experience in Victoria has been the exact opposite. Everyone’s been welcoming, and they don’t seem to mind that I’m from Southern California (another thing I worried they’d be cagey about). The folks at the bank actually seem to want to be helpful, which is a revelation after decades interacting with US banks. Even the people at ICBC — the equivalent of the DMV here — went above and beyond to help me out, giving me advice on how to get my complete driver’s record transferred so I don’t have to overpay for car insurance (!). And after just a single meeting of the Victoria Creative Writing Group I found a writing circle to join.

Conclusion

I’ve only been here two months, true, but so far I’m very, very, glad I made the move. If you’re thinking of making the change to Canada, have a look beyond the big cities of Vancouver, Montreal, etc. Maybe you’ll find your own perfect spot to explore.

Why Victoria?

Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal…These are the big, bustling, Canadian cities that most folks have heard of, the ones that most new immigrants head for.

So why did I choose to move to Vancouver Island, instead of Vancouver?

To be honest, after living here full-time for just a few weeks, my reasoning is already shifting. As the Oracle says in the Matrix:

…you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand why you made it.

But! I’d like to set down my original reasons for picking Victoria, in the hopes that my research can benefit others who might be contemplating a move to Canada.

Our Requirements

My work is remote, so in theory we had the whole of Canada to pick from. In practice, though, we had several constraints on where we could live.

No-go Ontario

Our first, oddly enough, was our dogs. We have two of them, one a German Shepherd/Lab mix, the other our “pocket pitty,” a 45-lb pit bull mix.

It’s the latter that gave us the constraint. You see, the province of Ontario has banned pit bulls, full stop. You can’t breed them, you can’t bring them into the province, you can’t keep one as a pet. If they think you’ve got a pit bull, they can seize it, and make you go to court to prove it’s not a pit bull. If you fail, they kill it.

This is a ridiculous law, and I hope it gets repealed soon. Most dog bites are from small dogs, who (obviously) are more likely to feel threatened by people and thus lash out. Pit bulls themselves were originally bred as “nanny dogs,” to watch over children. Children.

Anyway, since we’re looking for somewhere to live long-term, even if we weren’t going to bring the pups up immediately, there’s no way we could settle in Ontario. So Toronto, Ottawa, all those communities were out.

Non, merci, Quebec

Ok, so what about Montreal? Or Quebec City? The home of poutine, what’s not to like?

Here we had two more constraints, both related to my wife.

The first is that she’s got Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). Basically, the words you say aren’t the ones she hears. It’s like she has an autocorrect constantly running in her head, and it’s just as inaccurate as the one on your phone. So the prospect of having to brush off (and perfect!) her high school French was daunting. I speak French, so could help her out, but who wants to live in a city where you have to depend on someone else all the time to get basic things done?

The second constraint was simply the weather. I know, everyone knows it’s cold in Canada, and my wife’s no wimp. But she had major jaw surgery twenty years ago, and still has metal screws in her face (under the skin, goodness). In cold weather, those screws hurt.

So Quebec was out.

The Rent is Too High

That left British Columbia. I know I’m skipping over the Maritime Provinces — see the problems with Quebec, above — and Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba — ditto, with a side of “I’m from Texas, I don’t need to live in Canada’s version.”

We looked at a couple of different cities. There’s Vancouver itself, obviously. Further east you’ve got Kelowna and the Okanagan, and Kamloops north of them, both regions that are supposed to get less rain than the coast without the severe winters of the eastern provinces.

All three were enticing, but here again, we had constraints that narrowed our options for us.

For one, the plan shifted from both of us going up at the same time to just me, so my wife could stay behind and move her mother up to San Diego (that’s a whole other blog post). Naturally, she would keep the car, not only so she could get around San Diego, but also because our vehicle — a 2021 Chevy EV — is currently under recall for battery issues. And you can’t bring a car into Canada if it’s under recall.

No vehicle ruled out anything that’s not sufficiently urban to have a walkable downtown core. So Kelowna and Kamloops were both out, as being too car-dependent.

That left Vancouver, and though I’d heard good things about the city, I soon discovered one thing everyone said was completely true: The rents are absurd.

Not so absurd that there are a lot of places available, mind you. I started checking rental sites — a half dozen or so — multiple times a day, looking for units in areas where we thought we’d want to live. If anything came up at a reasonable price, it was usually gone by the time I contacted the building manager. Anything that lingered was out of our price range.

We had an extra set of constraints there, because we wanted to keep the house in San Diego (so my wife’s mother could live there). So we had to be able to afford both the place in Canada and the house in SD. Our already tight budget got tighter.

I was starting to despair of finding a place in time, when I got the idea to look at Victoria.

The Obvious Choice

And I’m glad I did. Victoria ticked all the boxes: Walkable downtown core, where I could get all my chores done on foot. Reasonable rental prices in modern buildings, so we wouldn’t break the bank. Available units, so we could move in when we wanted. Close to Vancouver, so in a pinch I could commute to network up there. And far enough south that it’s the only weather station in Canada to record a winter without going below freezing.

So Vancouver was out. Victoria, and Vancouver Island, were in.

Better All the Time

In hindsight, the choice was obvious, but at the time we fretted. We’d never been to any part of British Columbia, so we were judging everything from other people’s reports, scouring Google Maps, and watching video walk-throughs sent to us by building managers.

Since coming here, though, I’m glad we picked Victoria. Vancouver is gorgeous, but so big and expensive. Everything feels so accessible here; I can walk out my door and fifteen minutes later be in a park with bright flowers and tall trees, where the sounds of the city vanish. Or go down to the coast and gaze across the Strait at the Olympic Mountains. Or pop into one of dozens of coffee shops for a warming cup.

So if you’re looking to make the move to Canada, I urge you to do your research. Have a look at the laws of the province, to see if any are going to rankle. Set a strict budget for renting, and stick to it. And have a look at cities outside the big ones; you might find something smaller fits you better.

Greetings from Canada!

Wow, it’s been — six months? — since I posted anything here. That’s the longest gap in years, maybe ever?

I can explain. But in the words of Inigo Montoya, “No, it is too much. Let me sum up.”

Starting in late October (2021), I had a series of shocks, some personal, some work-related, that basically brought all my writing to a halt. No progress on the novel, no short stories, nothing. I stopped submitting, stopped revising, stopped even thinking about the work.

The break gave me the mental space to deal with everything that was happening. It also let me re-examine some of the ways my life was structured, in particular where I lived and how that fed into my own anxieties.

In short, I’ve moved to Canada. Victoria, BC, to be exact, on Vancouver Island.

I’ll post more about the experience of immigrating — which has been an adventure, even for as short a hop as this one — but a recurring thought I have as I walk around town is: I should have done this years ago.

Some history: Back in 2004, when Bush II won his second term, a lot of us liberals talked about heading out, to Canada or Europe, as a sort of “vote with your feet” protest. Some of us (not me, obviously) did it, and some of us stayed behind.

At the time, I thought of staying as a type of defiance. I was sticking it to the Republicans — many of them in my own family! — who chanted “love it or leave it.” I insisted I was just as patriotic as they were, I just thought patriotism meant taking care of people — women, children, etc — that the GOP wanted to leave behind.

But now? Now I wish I’d followed the instinct to leave. I had a friend that moved to Vancouver, and while we stayed in touch he keep urging me to move out, that the city was beautiful and there was plenty of work for engineers like us. I laughed it off, but now I wonder. Getting into Vancouver in 2004 was still affordable (!), my wife and I could have built a life there before housing prices went through the roof and the number of doctors went off a cliff.

Better late then never, I suppose. Because it is beautiful up here, between the mountains and the forests and the sea. Victoria reminds me a lot of Galway, Ireland, in both the good and the bad ways, a blustery, scruffy port town with green growing everywhere you look.

And now it’s home.

Written with: Ulysses

Under the influence of: “The Bends,” Radiohead