I’m still around. But, I wasn’t for a while. Yann and I–like everybody else–had to scale back our vacation plans for the year. We still wanted to leave town, so the obvious option was to spend a week on the mainland, where there are more people, and consequently, more infected people.
Our vacation included a few non-vacationy activities. I got my hair cut, skin pumped full of pigment, and made a trip to Ikea.
While the mainland has 16x COVID-19 cases, it also has infinite more Ikea stores. Brand new particleboard furniture is so scarce on the island that people are willing to pay full price on used Ikea shit. It is bullshit, as is shopping at Ikea on a weekend during a pandemic.
Which is what we did.
Despite the line-up outside Ikea Coquitlam resembling the above screencap from The Simpsons, it made for a better shopping experience. Waiting in a line for 45 minutes to enter the store was preferable to elbowing my way through a crowd to gather UPPERCASE-named wares in the marketplace section.
We walked for 3 kilometres. Just in Ikea. When Yann and I moved to the island last year, we opted to pay the $70 to have our goods delivered to a makeshift Ikea collection point in Saanichton (20 km from Victoria). We had only ordered the essentials, like a bed and a couch, as we had already spent a lot of money on the 4,500km move. We figured we’d purchase the rest from an actual Ikea store the next time we were on the mainland with the car.
Little did we know such a visit was more than a year away. For a year, Yann and I were hand washing all our dishes even though we had a functional dishwasher because we only owned three melamine plates. (My ex got them from his aunt as a hand-me-down, so they’ve been through a lot.) They may look cheap, but melamine plates are superior to ceramic plates.
Yet, I chose ceramic plates from Ikea (purposely mismatched, mind you). If my dinnerware purchase didn’t thrill you, maybe my sofa cover will. Our year-old couch aged 20 years, thanks to the cats. Once we find the energy to peel off the old, shredded covers and slip the new ones on, we’ll have a red couch! The fabric has a different texture, which we’re hoping the cats won’t find to be as enticing. But they’ll probably like it even more because that’s how cats operate.
Oh my god, now let me tell you about the fabric store we didn’t visit! Dressew on Hastings in Vancouver is a 30,000+ square foot store that has been stocking fabric and sewing supplies since 1961 (1981 at its current location). It’s so big that they don’t seem to bother updating the prices on many of their old stock. You can still get fabric for $1.99/m there. And if you randomly need Smurf figurines, they have those in the basement. Alas, their retro deals are off-limits while the world rides out the ‘rona.
Otherwise, Yann could’ve been able to spend the entirety of my hair appointment admiring the beaded appliques at Dressew. Yes, this vacation included a trip to the hairdresser. My roots were getting so long that I was almost able to identify my natural hair colour. For a month, I became a person who wears a hat. I don’t want to be known as a “hat person”.
I’d been going to this hairdresser off and on since I was 21. I’m a regular client who visits irregularly. I hadn’t seen him in two years, so I’d forgotten his rates. I can now say with total confidence that he doesn’t charge nearly anywhere as much as the last hairdresser I went to or take as long. Though, he was respectful enough to point out that he had been doing hair for 34 years when I mentioned how he was much faster than the last person who did my hair.
Later in the week, I altered my appearance in a much more dramatic way. I got tattooed. The last time I got tattooed was 2018 in Kingston, ON at a tattoo convention. Yann and I went camping right after the convention as our AirBNB had cancelled on us at the very last minute. This time, we did the reverse: we went camping, then I got the tattoo. I had to be careful not to get sunburnt or nipped by bugs.
It was a three-hour-long session. When someone says their tattoo(es) didn’t hurt at all, I assume they don’t have a nervous system. It’s a bunch of needles ramming into your skin up to 3000 times per second. Then someone with a small tattoo has the nerve (ha!) to tell me that it “wasn’t that bad”. Try sitting for more than two hours when the skin is all raw and angry.
If tattoos weren’t permanent, there’s no way I would put up with the pain.
It’s currently in the crusty stage, so no pictures for now.
We spent one more night at my dad’s place before returning to the island. I didn’t want to tell Dad I had gotten a new tattoo. He makes the same “you know that I think you’ll regret it someday” comment every time. So, I’ve decided to just not share that information with him anymore.
The challenge wasn’t to hide my pained gait (the tattoo is on the thigh) but to walk silently. Cling wrap encased my leg under my pants. Yann pointed out that it was causing crinkling noises as I walked. Had I known the tattoo would tricky to hide, I’d have told Dad and put up with his usual remarks, but I already lied to him and said I hiked around Burnaby Mountain, which is what Yann did while I was at the tattoo shop.
Why? I lied to avoid an uncomfortable situation and ended up in an even more uncomfortable one. I have to feel shame now, too!