There’s something about traveling within your own time zone that is quite comforting — shorter flights, no jet lag, no adjustment for wildly different weather patterns. Best of all, no leaving the Pacific Northwest sensibility when it comes to healthful eating, exercise, like-minded politics, and all those other things I tend to miss when leaving the West Coast. I didn’t gain weight!
Of course, one of the good things about travel is that it might take you out of your comfort zone. You can learn a lot. But sometimes you just want to have an easy time of it, and this was one of those trips.
That’s not to say I wasn’t challenged at all. This trip tested the limits of my comfort with being alone, as I spent almost the whole last week of it on my own. It wasn’t bad, but I sure was craving some human contact upon my return.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip was that I went thinking I was going for “The Big Gay Thing” in Vancouver — the Out Games were happening, and it was Gay Pride week; from Viagra ads on the pavement to rainbow banners at Safeway, Van City laid out the rainbow carpet — but I ended up spending more time and having much more fun out by the beach. It got me thinking, am I just not gay enough?
I wandered the four gay blocks of Davie Street each night, had some nice meals, went in the shops, drank a beer or two and chatted with folks here and there, but had to admit I just wasn’t that into it.
I had been to Vancouver a few times before, so there was not that excitement of being in a new place. Instead, I was reminded of my last trip there, in 2008, alone, standing around in the same bars with what might as well have been the same glass of beer, not meeting anyone. And I’m not what you’d call a wallflower. Ask anyone.
As I already kind of knew, it’s just no fun going to a bar alone. (Was it ever?) Has the gay bar scene changed or have I?
Well, both. I no longer like to drink that much, not without some friends around, at least…or some potential new friends. I’d like to think I’ve also matured in terms of not feeling like I’m some kind of a loser if I don’t score some hot guy whenever I go out (not that I was ever all that successful, but I tried). Still, flirting can be fun, and it’s fun to meet new people whether or not you’re looking to hook up.
That’s where I’ve noticed a big change in the gay culture, where bars are no longer places you go to on your own to meet other guys — yeah, yeah, I’m not a complete idiot, I know that’s all done by Internet these days. Now, bars are places friends go to with other friends to meet…each other.
It’s not that these are particularly unfriendly people, even if they are more often than not separate even in their “togetherness,” unflatteringly uplit by their iPhones — they have friends, after all (each other), sometimes a whole “tribe” of them — but they’re in these seemingly closed groups.
See what I mean?
So, yes, I’ve outgrown the bar scene. And it’s changed. And that’s ok. The beach was fabulous.