[Warning, long and boring.]
I’m starting a new series.
Inspired by Les Aventures d’Anthony (a book I knew about a long time ago, but I’d never actually read until Godot put it into my hands), I’ve decided to keep a running record of the shenanigans that Godot and I have been up to.
This is the story of August 20th, 2018.
I was still in Seattle at this point. I took the day off, to spend the weekend here with Shirley & Rudi for some photos. I wake up, and I can already hear Shirley taking shower, getting ready to leave.
The plan is simple: brunch at Portage Bay Cafe, then I drive her to Blaine, where she can take an exam for her NEXUS. I’d go through the customs, get home, shower, and go meet Godot and celebrate her 18 years and 84 months of age. But let’s be honest, plans never work out the way you want them to. It took me a long time to find parking, and the brunch was kinda awful. Shirley didn’t like the french toast at all, but at least they had AYCE fresh fruits and stuff.
Oh, and their coffee was awful.
I’m on the good ol’ I-5, potholes everywhere, horrible road quality, typical stuff. Shirley decides to take a nap. I turn my car into sports mode, it’s racing time.
We arrived at the NEXUS office, and I hug Shirley goodbye. I don’t know when I’ll see her next, hopefully, I’ll be able to get better shots next time. I head back to the I-5, and start blazing my way back to Vancouver.
I fire off an “omw” to Godot, she says she’s not ready yet, so I take a shower, redo the wax on my hair, then I head out. Oh, don’t forget her gift.
I had bought a set of pour-over coffee making tools. Hario V60 starter kit, hand grinder, digital scale. I carefully mix the bag of Ethiopian beans and Geisha I had leftover. These were some of the best coffee I’ve found so far, and anytime Geisha is mixed into other coffee, it brings about a very light, nutty flavor unlike any other coffee. “Ethiopian & Geisha, 4:1”, I wrote on the bag for her, the other half, I pour into the catcher of my grinder.
Godot loves good coffee, she had wanted me to bring a cappuccino for her, but I didn’t have anymore milk left. I pull a shot of the freshly mixed beans, according to the pressure gauge, this would’ve been the best shot I’ve pulled in recent times. Topping off the cup with hot water, I try a bit.
Damn good stuff.
I meet Godot outside her dorm, she does this little hop down the stairs: dressed in an Obey anorak, white skirt, and converse. She exclaims: “Am I handsome or what?” I laugh. This was the first time I saw her with her hair down. It’s nice.
Handing her the gift, “Happy Birthday!”
We get to Chinatown, because she wanted to see if her tattoo artist was available today to give her a small engineering ring. Walking down Keefer Street, the air is a bit yellow, smells of smoke, but looks .
Unfortunately the artist is on vacation, and she wouldn’t be able to get the tattoo today. Godot seemed a little upset, but not surprised.
“I don’t know, I’ve never been to the Chinatown in Vancouver yet.”
“Lemme show you around a bit then.”
I’ve always liked Chinatown. Gentrification is in full swing here, and it’s full of all kinds of hipster shops and cafes.
“Welcome to Propaganda Coffee! I’ve always liked their iced americanos, and they always have my favorite light roast coffee, Elysian, in stock.”
“Whoa, these chairs, that’s so cool.” Godot claims, excitedly.
“There’s a lot more of these around, let’s go!”
Outside, on Main Street, I start pointing, while walking past all the shops I used to see every morning.
“We got Pacific Poke just over there, and that’s Dalina, just under the apartment I used to live in. Matchstick coffee is just down the street, but their beans always jams my grinder, so I don’t like them as much.”
“Rhinofish is where I always went for the best, the best beef noodle soup.”
“Oh, I know that one! You’ve showed me the photos.”
“Oh, Brooklyn’s Pizza. I know pizza in general is really awful in Vancouver, but this one’s decent.”
“Oh? I’ve only liked restaurant style pizza, with thin crusts and everything.”
“You should try this then, you might like it.”
I go to the dude at the counter.
“One pepperoni slice please, thank you.”
“You’re planning on making me fat, right?”
“It’s okay, you don’t have to finish the slice, I can eat whatever’s leftover.”
“It’s a lot more salty than I expected. Good, but too salty.”
Moving on, we walk down East Georgia.
“Back when I decided on this apartment, I signed the contract the same day I saw the apartment. I never even checked, I just assumed that East Georgia couldn’t be that far from West Georgia, which is where I worked. This turned out to be incorrect, and it was still a 20 minute walk to work, so I ended up taking the bus most of the time due to rain.”
She laughs out loud, “Hahahaha, that’s so stupid.”
“I know, I just presumed… Oh here we are, Matchsticks.”
“You know, they have pretty good croissant here.”
She stares at the only double baked almond chocolate croissant in the display, contemplating.
I go up to the counter, “could I have that croissant please? Could you also cut it, and give us two small plates and heat it up? Thanks.”
She finds a spot, goes to the washroom. I pour some water for us.
“This is a lot better than the last one right?”
“Much better, still too sweet, though. I don’t like desserts that sweet.”
“I think it’d be better if they didn’t put too much sugar in the almond sauce.” I claim, remembering the episode of Chef’s Table I saw from Netflix. It talked about a man from Sicily who loved the Sicilian almonds, and would make all kinds of wonderful creations with it.
We walked some more, and we run into an used bookstore. Spending some time in a bookstore is always nice, to me, it’s filled with treasures – secret recipes, ways of life, philosophy, and various arts. Godot really liked the shelves, they were bare metal scaffolding that one would use for construction. These scaffolding were filled with wooden boards that held all the books, and it had a sliding ladder on the railing. She said she want to have this in her house someday, and I comment on how it would be constructed, and claimed that the scaffolding would be pretty cheap, but the books would be much more expensive. She smiles.
This was a peculiar bookshop, there was an entire section dedicated to arts upstairs, along with some sculptures. She finds “White” by Kenya Hara, and asks if that’s the same book on my bookshelf at home. I affirm, and start to explain that the book talks about white as a concept, symbolizing purity, space, and how it can be used to fill a design. She nods, “I think it’s a bit too much for me.” I laugh. I shuffle around a bit, it’s a bit hot in there, but I still sift through some of the books in the collection. I’ve been wanting to get some books on classical art so I can brush up my art history again. But I didn’t find anything that’d satisfy the encyclopedia type I wanted.
We move on. She tells me how she used to compete in creative writing on a national level, and how one of the topics was “travelling north-south on a west-east street”. I asked how’s that even possible, and she replies “It’s just cross the street repeatedly.” I roll my eyes, and we were walking back to the car from Union Street.
“I wanted to show you this row of houses.” I point, to a row of pastel colored houses on Gore Ave.
“Those are pretty cute. And they’re definitely your style, with the pastel coloring and what not.”
“Yea, I really like these Wes Anderson-esque colors.”
“Oh, I’ve been here before.” She points to Crackled Creme. “I used to have a friend who’d go to a fitness class nearby, and I remember liking this street a lot for the shops.”
“Interesting, is it the boxing club we passed by?”
“Maybe, I’m not sure though. That shop… Let’s check it out!”
We storm into Hunter & Hare.
“My best bud bought a bunch of fake flowers at one point, and she covered the wall with it and took photos.” I say after seeing some dried flowers in the shop.
“I used to dry flowers myself, it’s pretty easy, you just hang them all upside down.”
“Oh, like they do it here?” I point to the ceiling where all the dried flowers are.
“What? I didn’t even notice those before. But yea, like that.”
We walk back to Keefer, ate some ice cream at Pazzo Chow. She asked if the ice cream was made in house, and I confirm. Some more walking, checking out Dr.Sun Yat-Sen Garden, she tells me about how her last four birthdays were all fairly gruesome. I don’t remember all of them, but she was trapped in an airport for one, she had her laptop stolen right before the exam for another.
Back at the car, I ask her, where to now. She’s not sure, but she says she has to go get this cake from a place called 3/4 Full Cafe. I said I knew the place, they had great cakes last time I took Nick to it. I suggest we go to the alley where the walls and the street was painted. She says she’s never been.
I took a wrong turn by accident, and I say to her let’s go pick up the cake first.
On the way there, she laughs for a bit, then stops. She says she mistook Haro Street for Taro Street. I reply that she must be hungry.
We get to the shop, after driving around a bit trying to find parking, I said I’d circle around the block to park a bit further, and that she should message me when she’s done.
I park the car, and I’m scrolling through my phone.
“Standing by” I send to her.
“Aw, I really wanted the jellos they had here, but they say I’d have to book it a few days in advance, otherwise I’d only be able to get slices.”
“That’s okay, we can always come back here.”
“You know, maybe I should try a taro cake. Between the sales lady and the mistaken road sign, maybe it’s fate that I should eat taro cake.”
“You should, I love taro. Taro desserts are always good, and I only ever drink taro bubble tea anyways, a habit my mom taught me.”
By the time I send that last message, I already see her walking up to me. “That was quick.”
Back on the road, I navigate through to Seymour, “There’s always parking spots around this time on Seymour”.
I’ve done a shoot in this spot with Shirley before. I didn’t like the way it turned out, and I never understood why. After shooting with Godot, I understood it was the coloring. Her green anorak provided a very distinct color contrast, and I was able to achieve a very consistent style, very Wes Anderson-esque. You can’t see it, but she’s wearing my Airpods underneath, listening to Faye Wong. “It helps me get into character.” She was originally gonna blast it from her phone, but I stopped her out of, maybe, shame?
After this, we traveled to Wholefoods. She showed me a picture of Nana Kotmatsu with a Wholefoods bag over her head, lacking expression, vaguely humorous. “I never knew they had Wholefoods in Japan, good going, Jeff.”
Turns out Wholefoods didn’t have the kind of bag with thin handles. The nice cashier gave us an assortment of other bags. “I should probably bring you with me every time I buy stuff, I feel like we’d get a lot of free stuff.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s because you’re so small and cute.”
I did mean it. I wasn’t about to lie.
We get to Granville Island. She says she wants to blow out her candle in darkness, by the ocean. I suggest we do some shooting until it gets dark.
I realized that parking was free after I had already paid. “Damn, I just got scammed out of 7 bucks.” “Hahaha you sound exactly like my friend in Portland when the same thing happened.”
I liked her descriptions of this friend. He sounded genuine, and he was also a car nut. I was a bit jealous when I heard he tracked his Golf R most of the time. It was a bit too expensive for me when I was considering cars, even the GTI was a bit too expensive for what I was willing to pay.
There was this cool art installation next to the parking lot. We hung around, and took some photos. The artist was still around, so we asked her about the meaning and such.
Turns out my interpretation was completely wrong. Oh well.
She tried to do some punching poses (as one would’ve seen in some of the old Gundam anime or old Transformers cartoons). And we ended up shooting some stuff with the bags. Not what she intended, but she seemed to be really enjoying herself. We talk some more, and walk around a bit. The more I talked with her, the more entranced I’d become. The amount of similarities between us is staggering.
“Oh, let’s go to that place you said it’d look really nice, but didn’t work with the dress I had last time.”
“You mean the stairs on the other street right?”
“I think so, let’s go to it!”
“Hey, hand me my bag again? I need a napkin, the stairs a bit dirty.” She reaches under the railings, one floor above me.
“Your bag’s gonna get caught and it’s gonna get dirty, here, take it from the top.” I lift the bag over the railing.
“You’re so tall, LOL.”
I laugh, proudly.
“This one’s gonna turn out great, I’ve even managed to work in some spiral composition.”
“Good, maybe then I can show off some of the Leo in me.”
I’ve never believed much in horoscopes. But she seemed interested in the topic. She always said she’s not like a Leo, she’s too indecisive and non-threatening, I agree.
We walked around while shooting some more. I don’t remember what we talked about. But I remember she said some lame programming jokes, I laughed, and probably made some lame programming jokes back.
“What’s that big yellow building?”
“I think it used to be a fish factory or something.”
“Oh, those pegs, maybe I could climb them and we can use that big yellow building as the background.” She tries to climb with no avail.
“I can give you a lift.” As I try to push her up a bit. Struggling with the awkward position, I decided to lift her by her knees and her neck onto the sheet of napkin she kept with her.
“Whoa you’re strong.”
“Nah, you’re just super light.” She was light. I don’t think I can curl more than 80 lbs.
Walking around this place a bit more, it’s not quite dark yet, so we decide to shoot some more stuff before the sun actually goes down. On the other side of this yellow building is a restaurant, with an ice cream shop.
“Let’s give this patio a try, it looks really nice.” She says.
“I do have an idea that’s a bit more abstract, but I wanna try it regardless.”
“Lemme go buy an ice cream.”
“This grapefruit cone is really sour. Do you like sour things?”
I shake my head.
“Oh well, I guess I’ll keep eating it.”
“I feel kinda bad just moving these furnitures around without asking them.”
“They haven’t complained yet.”
After the shoot, I put all the furniture back into place, almost forgot her handbag.
We find a bench and sit for a while, waiting for sunset, talking.
“Sometimes I just really don’t want to deal with stuff. And if I can get out of it by disadvantaging myself, I would usually take that route.”
“I do the same.” I say, a little startled at the similarities between us. “It’s just easier sometimes. Hm.. Do you often feel the need to be loved?”
I asked this question in probe. I knew I liked her: the sheer amount of similarities I found out when we first started talking had intrigued me a for a while. The more I got to know her, the more I liked her, admired her, wanting to protect her, and spend time with her.
I grew up mostly with my friends. My parents were often busy working, it’s not that they didn’t love me, but I never knew physical affection until much later in my life, after I had moved to Canada, in high school. It never occurred to me to hug my mom, and I’d always duck whenever she tried to kiss me on my cheeks. Growing up, I’ve always been very shy physically. Elana taught me how to be physically intimate and affectionate in high school. When I first hugged someone I loved, it felt nice, warm, and accepting. Time stops, and the whole time you can feel the other person’s heartbeat, beating along yours. The smell of the other person, their face brushing past yours.
I’ve always liked hugs since then.
So I hugged her, albeit a bit awkwardly.
I didn’t say anything else other than some comments about the hug. “This is the first missed opportunity”, I think to myself.
It was finally dark, and I had bought some fries while setting up for the shoot because I was getting hungry.
I take a few test shots, “You know, this doesn’t look too good. Your face looks super greasy due to this flash.” Doubled layered softening wasn’t enough, it was still a bit too strong.
“*Munch* Oh?” She looks at the picture, and you laugh. “People will never expect the behind the scenes to look like this, maybe we should do a behind the scenes shoot too!”
“Why did you buy these fries anyways, you know I’m like a goldfish, I’ll eat until I explode.”
I chuckle, “That’s the plan.”
It’s much harder to notice time when we’re talking. I don’t know how it happens, but it happens every time. I light the candle, and I put the cake into her hands.
“Lemme know when you’re ready.”
*click* *click* *click* …
“Did you make a wish?”
“Alright, keep it to yourself or it won’t come true!”
We got all we needed for the photo, so we start to look for a place to eat some food, and the cake. The seafood restaurant was closed, despite the patio still being filled. I asked what she wanted to eat, she said Jajangmyeon, I look up all the places that have Jajangmyeon. They were all closed, sounding a bit defeated, she said, maybe Thai food then.
“Oh, don’t forget the parking lot photos you wanted to take!” I remembered.
“Right! And we’ll get Thai after!”
We get to Robson Street, and we ended up eating at this Korean owned Thai place. Their POS wasn’t working, and turns out it was a network issue. I helped them reset the router, and we got our orders in: Pad-thai for me, tom yum soup for her.
“This pad-thai’s pretty bad. If you ever been to Thai Express, you should try their pad sew. It’s pretty good, despite it being a fast food place.”
“Oh, I always liked pad sew better. I like thicker noodles.”
“I don’t think we’ll have the time to eat our cake here, let’s find another place after.”
We walk to Cactus Club Cafe, I got us a table, and I went to move the car closer. By the time I got back, you were already sitting there on the patio, Bellini in hand, with extra plates and forks at the ready.
“Do you want to light the other candle too? I don’t know how this works, but maybe it can grant you another wish.”
“I don’t think that’s how this works.”
“It wouldn’t hurt your chances.” As I lit the candle.
You blew it out, I cut the cake. You say that the taro makes this cake really good, and how the cake itself is a bit purple, actually. You accuse me of purposely cutting a bigger slice for you. The lights near the water when we took the photo made it look green. You pull out your journal – “Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You” – and start looking for a page to write onto.
I don’t remember which quote you chose, but we did talk about some of the quotes, and how you don’t agree with the quote about how, if there’s even a single person in the room that doesn’t like you, you’d have to leave. I agreed with you. I thought that quote was a bit bunk. You finish writing, you close the book, and mentions something about how maybe this book should’ve came with a cover, and tells me that you used to compete in book wrapping. What ridiculous thing to compete about, I think to myself. “You know, we still have those bags from Wholefoods. I used to wrap books a lot with grocery bags, and it worked decently well.”
We get back to the car, and I carefully wrap the book on top of my trunk.
“Fifteen minutes left of your birthday, anything else you want to do?”
“I kinda want to go see the ocean”
“One ocean coming right up.”
I asked if you wanted my jacket, because it’d be a bit cold. You refuse at first, but then comes back and decides to wear it anyways. It’s so hilariously big on you.
I grab your ukulele, and we start walking towards the water.
Past some drunk people, we sit down on a log. I sing you “Happy Birthday”, playing the ukulele. You clapped, thanked me, and started plucking on it.
We talk some more, about how I liked the smell of the ocean more than the lake. About my adventures with Paige going to the shores of lake Ontario.
You yawn, it’s a bit cold, we head back. “Second miss”, I thought.
[+1, 00:05 am]
We get back to your place. I wave you goodbye, asking if you had a good time. You tell me it’s much better than the last four birthdays you’ve had. “I hope so!”
“Third miss”, I thought, heading back to my place.
[+1, 1:00 am]
I’m processing the photos as I send them to you. You ask for some adjustments here and there, claiming how I’m truly a photographer, always impatient to start processing the photos right away. I just really wanted to show you what I see, I wanted to show the world the you that I see, excitedly.
[+1, 2:00 am]
I tell you I’m really tired, I’m gonna go sleep, wishing you a good night, you reply, good night.
“Fourth miss”, I fall asleep.