Movies are great. Many of them are well portrayed, with great stories, stunning cast, and some deep philosophies. You always learn something new after a movie, whether it’s “fluorescent people are rare but worth waiting for” or “this actor sucks.” I wasn’t a huge movie goer until my move to a quaint basement in Kitsilano a year ago today, where I lived with Fran and Matt. They have known each other for years, and their movie collection is mindblowing. Our small living room had a wall of videos, and then, Marie Kondo happened. When I moved for work in June, I regretted that I didn’t have enough time to watch everything I wanted to there. So many classics.
Life in Vancouver was painful for me when I first came back. I missed all the arts and theatricals in another continent, and yet I knew what was the most important thing at the time: getting my identity sorted. I had no idea how long I’d be on this land, but I was determined.
This cost me many things, many, many opportunities. But still, no regrets.
In hindsight, it’s all because of Phil.
I met him on a breezy April evening, on Main Street. He was courtuous enough to stay through the whole date, as I was only giving a serious face for that I didn’t know him enough yet.
We only talked sporadically att the time, and he went off to UK for Prince Harry’s wedding. When he came back, we had another few dates.
“Treat me like a tourist, I don’t know the city well enough yet.” I remember telling him that once.
I was new to the full-time working world. It was scary, as I felt the pressure to live up to others’ expectation, while scraping with bare-minimun wage. When the winter hit, he came back from Denver, and I was already exhausted with life. He started giving me pointers on how to smooth my way at work, how to balance work and life.
Christmas time, I was on the edge of burnout. I had so much on my shoulder and all I can do was whining about work with my friends, and cryingg a bit at Phil’s. He always managed to calm me down, with tea, apples, peanut butter, and sometimes ice creams. He said I was doing a great job. And he was the only one I could trust on that opinion.
When it was approaching New Year’s, I got real sick. My roommates weren’t home, so I was just resting and watching movies by myself. Casablanca, Home Alone, many more Christmas movies, and 500 Days of Summer. Just because I had the time. And the film is so real, so relatable, that I can stop crying and laughing at once. Doomed romance has a touch of bittersweetness, so unique that people can help themselves.
Misery. Sadness. Loss of Faith. No reason to Live… This is perfect for you.
– 500 Days of Summer
Year 2019 has been great for me. Every month has a new theme, a set of new challenges, a round of intense learning. Amidst all the comments I’m getting from people, Phil is always most supportive. He saw me as a little girl who tries to make it herself, and I’m okay with that. He gives me the cold truths about things I see with rosy glasses, and yet he never discourages.
When I was depressed about the fact that I couldn’t travel abroad, he gave me a means and a reason to.
And when I can actually travel anywhere with my new passport, we drove to Oregon together, with our fresh coffee beans and canned wines. Portland is such a beautiful, quaint city, and we both feel for it.
We both knew this day would come, the day I’d leave Vancouver. It is certain that we couldn’t hold a long distance relationship without a solid future plan. The only thing we didn’t foresee is how close we would become in the 500 or so days.
I saw him for the last time on a Thursday. It was a dinner with a non-profit i’ve been working for in the past year. My mentor and the non-profit founder Jena has heard about Phil but hadn’t met him at that point, so it was good to introduce them. The dinner was mostly about me leaving and my new adventure. During the conversation, I admitted for the first time why I wanted to meet Phil. Since the table was so curious about our story:
“I saw your profile: you have studied in Costa Rica, and you wrote in Spanish that you’d like to practice Spanish with anyone who speaks. Then, i was already certain that I wanna learn Spanish and travel through South America. So, I reached out to you. The rest is history.”
Man, it felt so good to be honest.
It feels even better to close the loop on an upward spiral.
The next day, he flew to Russia. Upon my return home from a family dinner, I saw his letter lying on my bedside drawer. I read his handwriting and cried again.
We have both grown so much in the year and half. There are times I wanna choose the easy road, but he never let me go on that path. He taught me how to be responsible, how to think things through, and how to get jobs done. What’s more, he taught me how to love someone and how to accept someone into my life.
It would be extremely unfair to use Summer or Tom as our parables. Phil is Miles from The Holiday, Dylan from FwB, Richard from Friends. He might be greater than all of them combined.
We had something people would die for. And yes, we are okay to let it go. I’m trusting me lonely this time. People don’t realize this, but loneliness is underrated.
Vancouver, you’ve been my Pride and Prejudice. You’ve shown me my worst and my best; you’ve shown me humanity’s high and low.
Thanks for everything. I’m ready to take on the world, and I’m ready to find my 100 years of solitude.