As soon as flight AA1746 from Grand Cayman landed its wheels on the wet tarmac of Vancouver’s International airport, a double spiral of anxiety and excitement swirled inside my guts. Delicate sleet danced softly toward the ground. I disembarked the craft and followed a crowd of Asian-Canadian passengers. The scents of Tim Horton’s fresh coffee and sugar donuts was an enticing welcome.
The walk towards the exit seemed for ever long. I was so excited to see him, and the snow, and the mountains. He stood motionless in the middle of a time-lapsed crowd, holding a bouquet of honeysuckles. I knew nothing would have really changed, even after nearly two years of my being away on an island but still, the beard on his face made me feel like I had been forever gone.
“The city never snows. Only for you”, he said.
We drove through the city, entering the pumping heart of downtown. The workers in the food stalls on Granville St. were hustling to keep up with the hungry mass and the smells of smokey hot-dogs grilling on charcoals and sweet crepes being poured on hot rocks made me salivate on my car seat. And as the evening crowd started to assemble on the outdoor heated patios of Robson St., the consumers struggled on the sidewalk overburdened with shopping bags. The homeless were curled up at each corners with a collection of decrepit winter supplies.
When we arrived at the entrance of Lions Gate Bridge, I looked through the fogged windshield and glimpsed at the two lions sculptures standing strong and tall. Their 2010 Olympic red scarfs floated in the cold wind. Behind, the porch lights of the houses of the North Shore started to glimmer against the dark mountains. Below, the cargo boats slowly pursued their path.
We drove north on winding Highway 99 into the steep and rugged Coast mountains. The snow stopped, revealing the rays of a late autumn sunset reflecting on the Pacific ocean. We made our way through the Sea-to-Sky corridor, driving by past ancient volcanoes, dramatic valleys, snowcapped mountains and gleaming ocean. Sailboats caught the last beam of light on the turquoise waters of the fjord of Howe Sound. A scenic journey through picturesque landscape of familiar grounds.
As we passed the port town of Squamish, a cloud covered the sky, sending glittering snow and leaving a delicate white veil on the asphalt. Soon enough we were in a magical tunnel of snowflakes climbing into paradise.
It was a dark night when we arrived, however the village was a shimmer of colourful lights. Children wearing oversized Canucks jerseys were having a snowball fight in the public square. Honeymooners strolled through the village, holding hands and licking chocolate chip ice cream cones from Cow’s. An extensive family from Mexico was sitting on a bench by Zog’s sipping hot chocolates and savouring delicious BeaverTail sweet delicatessens.
He held my hand and, as the snow continued to glitter the little resort town of Whistler, he looked into my eyes and said: “Welcome home”.