All of the stuff that i really needed to start this bike tour safely has arrived. The only things i don't have that i probably should still get are bear spray and some N95 masks for the wildfire smoke.
Yesterday felt like the end of an era. I put a bunch of goodies in the backpack that has traveled with me all over the world and left it with the local street outreach team. I hope they can pass it on to someone who will appreciate it. I still have a few other things to give away, but they're all smaller or less unusual things that i'll just leave by the river or in one of the other spots where i know people who can use it will find it.
The only major thing i still have to figure out is my mail solution. I would prefer to get one of those virtual addresses where they scan, hold or forward your mail, but most of them only have Vancouver locations, which feels wrong to me. As much as BC has become my Canadian home now, i am definitely way more comfortable in the interior than down on the coast.
Let me digress a bit, because that's worth talking about. I try to avoid referring to myself as "from" any particular place, because i don't really feel like i belong anywhere. But after Brexit happened, rendering my European citizenship worthless and my British citizenship thoroughly embarrassing, i adopted a traveling identity of Overseas Canadian. Up until the pandemic i had only lived about 4 years in Canada, but that was long enough to qualify for citizenship, and i liked the spirit of Canada as a place that's explicitly multicultural and migrant-friendly, so i became a citizen. But i never really felt at home anywhere in the country. Because most of the country is cold and wet and full of mosquitoes.
And then i came to this corner of BC, and i found a little piece of Canada that is... well, okay, it's still cold in the winter. But it's not wet and full of mosquitoes. And the people are friendly and down-to-earth. I do love big cities with vibrant rave scenes, but Toronto and Montréal are pretty much the only cities in Canada that qualify there, and to be honest neither is really as exciting as even smaller towns in Europe. So you're not really losing much in Canada, stepping down from a big city to a small town. But you gain the ability to literally walk to the edge of town and end up in nature. That's pretty awesome.
I suppose the downside is the usual rural stuff. Some people still go to church. They like driving trucks and riding quads and going hunting. By big city standards they're a bit rough round the edges and un-PC, but i choose to believe that's more because they're ignorant than because they're bigoted. I hope that just living my life as a minority in a place like this helps to reduce that ignorance. On the flip side, there's less of the cognitive dissonance that happens in bigger North American cities where you get lots of relatively wealthy people lamenting the state of racism and democracy and the environment while simultaneously driving their SUVs to the mall to buy a bunch of made-in-China tat, or stepping over homeless people to get to work.
I'm not sure why i find North American cities so jarring in that way, and why it doesn't feel so bad in Europe.
Anyway, the point is that i found this little home in Canada, in this "flyover town" that people driving by don't even bother stopping at because it's not scenic enough compared to the next one up the road. When the news came out about the graves at the residential school across the river, it felt like i shared in the grief. With the wildfires burning up homes and ranches around town, the loss hits me too. Maybe because it's a smaller town it all feels more personal, even though i don't have any connections here. Whatever the reason, the end result is i have developed a bit of local area pride, or solidarity with the community, or something.
So when it comes to establishing a legal (but otherwise imaginary) home base, i feel like i'd rather set my address here than in Vancouver. And because it's a small town, that means there is no company offering virtual addresses. The choices are PO box or UPS box. And that's where i will mail all the documents that i am not taking with me. So if i get halfway across the country and realize i need my birth certificate, well, fuck, i'll have to come all the way back here to unlock the box. Or send the key to a local area lawyer, perhaps.
I suppose i could send all my shit to my friend R in Windsor again, but i feel like i have leaned on her way too much. Also, Windsor is cold, wet and full of mosquitoes.
Whatever i end up doing, i need to do it next week. Because come August, i am outta here. With the wildfire smoke blanketing the whole region it might be a hellish first week or two, but i suppose that just gives me a reason to come back and see it all again when the smoke has cleared.
I just wanna get on the road already.