Thursday, March 30, 2017

A writing life

I was pleased to discover my account of  celebrations after Canada's 2010 gold medal hockey victory when I went though  my old email files this week. John Denniston photo of the post-game crowds on Granville Street.

I stopped writing diaries in my early twenties; I stopped writing stories when I switched to copy-editing in the 1980s; and I stopped writing letters when the Internet arrived. My life, I thought, was slipping by unrecorded.

But this week, I discovered I was wrong. When I launched into a cleanup of my long-neglected email system, I discovered it has actually been tracking some of the most meaningful years of my life. Not everything is there, of course, but among 3,000-plus emails from the past decade, my accounts of most of the big things survived: Births, deaths, moves, retirements, family traumas and dramas, and even some major civic events.  Consciously or subconsciously,  I bypassed the delete key when it counted.

Following is an excerpt from a March 1, 2010 email to my friend Ros in Mexico:

I was walking to work Sunday when the big gold-medal U.S.-Canada hockey game was on, the last day of the Olympics. As I passed homes and apartments on my route, I could hear people screaming in excitement or pain depending on what was going on on their TV sets. The streets were pretty much empty -- everybody in the world except me, it seemed, was watching the game. I was hoping, really hard, that I could make it to work before the game ended, so I wouldn't have to deal with whatever erupted afterwards on the streets.

As I got to the north end of the Burrard Bridge, the highrises on both sides of the bridge suddenly broke into a cacophony of cowbells, cheers, yells, screams, and people started coming out on their balconies and waving flags. It was kind of neat, even though I had no attachment to the hockey game itself. But these huge buildings ringing with noise, everybody so excited, I realized it's something I would never see again in a lifetime. As I got closer to downtown, I could hear a non-stop roar ahead. It was a little scary, frankly. 

But when I got to Robson and Howe, where the roar reached a peak, the mood was celebratory and non-threatening. People had poured out into the streets and were shrieking, high-fiving each other, carrying their flags, dancing on the streets in bizarre costumes, climbing on each other's shoulders, using their cellphones to photograph themselves and the crowds. I thought people would soon get tired of shrieking, 'We're number one,' but apparently they were able to entertain themselves in this way for many hours to come, as they were still doing it when I got out of work eight hours later. By then, bus service to and from downtown had been resumed, after TransLink had had to halt it for four hours because the crowds had taken over the streets. So I got through it all unscathed, not even inconvenienced, and everybody was able to have their fun.

1 comment:

  1. I remember being in Palm Springs at the time. It was quite something even from afar. Then the dreadful Stanley Cup riots and we were in Vancouver for those. A sad day. Probably all down to the Olympics game being played quite early in the day. By the time the Stanley Cup game came on the people had been in pubs for hours since that was the only was to be guaranteed a seat.