Vancouver When It Rains – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

For the past two years I've lived in Vancouver, Canada. There's another Vancouver, in Washington State, but I've never been there.

You can film any first world city in Vancouver: there are quaint houses with picket fences and unruly gardens, concrete apartment blocks from the seventies and modern skyscrapers with all the amenities. If you want a slum, we have that too, druggies looking as addled as anywhere else.

Vancouver is my home and it's not my home; it could be anywhere. I could be anywhere. You are left alone; I am left alone – most of the time, whether I want to be left alone or not. This is not purely a matter of disinterest, no. People sniff around for a year or more, (You need that much time to invent elaborate rejection scenarios); don’t scoff, no one ever died of being too timid.

We tried to have discussion groups at my college; it didn’t work, people kept agreeing with each other too quickly. All this agreement, however, should not be confused with actual agreement. You can't even take for granted that anyone is awake.

Still, I live here. I'm alone most of the time. It rains. Rain, however, is too simple a word to convey the full variety of wetness. There is, first, the darkness. In October the sun retreats. Light becomes depressed, muted, not its usual self. She gets lazy, heart broken. She's unable to rouse herself until later, later in the day. Mornings start at eight, then at nine and then even later. What follows is a hangover version of brightness: muted, fuzzy-tongued grayness. You remember your most embarrassing moments, in slow motion. It looks like used cotton balls, it hums with the soft whine could have beens. It smells of regret. Rain.

Nothing dries out, not ever. After a week, after two, after three, you understand introversion. After four, after five, after six weeks, you understand pessimism.

The rats are catching cold, poor things have little red noses; you consider what you can do, lacing the garbage with menthol maybe.

I'll tell you what there is not. There is no warm, tropical rain. There is no big bang rain, something noisy, something dramatic, something that's over quickly and makes you feel cleaner afterwards.

There's no clap of thunder, either. These are rains that make you excessively polite, self-protective and observant (what else to do?)

This is what I observe in Vancouver in the rainy season. People in the west end disappointed, stubborn, detached and alone. Some idiotic therapist once announced, for no reason at all, that what you criticize about other people is really what you don’t like about yourself. I’ll have to get back to you on that.