Kid Two’s birthday, his accompanying slumber party, and a visit from my young nephew took me out of my new blogging rhythm the last week. But I’m back with lots of ideas and plans for this month’s stories, and in honor of the Olympics I’m starting with a field trip to Vancouver.

I thought Vancouver was awesome: lovely and artsy-feeling and extraordinarily multicultural. I was there just once, in the spring of 2005. I had set aside my home-based web design business to focus on finishing my B. A. at California State University-Monterey Bay and was serious enough about my studies that the writing professors invited me, along with a couple other students, to attend the annual AWP conference in Vancouver. At one time in my life, packing up to go somewhere for a few days was, while not ordinary, wasn’t uncommon and fairly simple to accomplish. But in the spring of 2005 it was unusual to leave my kindergartner, a seventh-grader, and my partner behind to try and explore what it would be like to add “writer” to my “mom” title, and I wanted to make the most of every minute there. I found my journal from this time. It’s perhaps not surprising that to hear that, in life’s fashion of throwing lemons one’s way, I had a challenge beyond my self-inflicted trauma of leaving my family. This is what I wrote:

Woke up at 5am. Sore throat, burning eyes, shaky. Completely miserable. Hotel room service at 7am saved me – hot steak grilled perfectly medium (is there such a thing?) Nice scrambled eggs – good mound of spinach and half a tomato. Got me through 2 sessions. Learned that writers are not, by nature, gregarious. Remember the walk- red bandanna jean jacket singing “please come to boston” amplified on his acoustic guitar.

The walk! I remember! I was finished that high-protein blast and ready to go with an hour or so to kill before the program began, and as I said, I was determined to make the most of my time. So I took my feverish energy outside with my camera to see what I could in the morning light. Here’s an abbreviated tour:

Construction was underway for the 2010 Olympics

More Olympic construction in front of the gorgeous convention center

Old Town by the water is lined with these unique steam gaslights

This homeless man was the one singing “Please Come To Boston.” He had a rich voice that echoed in the empty streets, and the memory still gives me chills.

The morning light cast this fractured reflection.

I’m sure it was the massive steak and spinach breakfast that gave me the energy to fight off whatever airplane-borne bug I’d caught. That was my meal each morning; afterwards I’d dose up with an echinacea spray I’ve only seen in Canadian pharmacies then head out into the day to take notes through presentations and tromp around Vancouver in the rain. By the time I got home I was full-on sick, but by then I’d stopped eating steak and spinach for breakfast. Coincidence?

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