at the gates of the van horne

i first became aware of the van horne building, dim at the edge of my awareness, when i was working in the downtown eastside and crabtree corner was still at cordova and columbia. at that point it was mostly the place with the cornerstore where i’d get my chocolate bar fix after working at crabtree corner on thursday afternoons.

after a while i noticed that there were gates … aha! gates! i remember looking up from them, noticing how big the building was and how new. it was new and had gates – well, it was clear to me then that this was a sign of the dreaded gentrification that everyone was talking about.

yes, i can stereotype with the best of them.

then, a few years later, i met someone who lived in the apartment part of it. she was really cool, part ski instructor, part MBA student, socially conscious. so the building became a bit more humanized for me. it started having a face. there were actually nice people living there! amazing!

a few months ago i met a husband and wife who live there, too. they invited me into their lovely, funky loft. yet another wrinkle. now i got to set foot in the dreaded, gated halls of gentrification.

from inside, the gates actually didn’t look so bad. well, i guess that’s what most people in gated communities think.

i remember the first time i left the van horne through the south gate. through the tiled, nicely landscaped, european-style court and out i walked, opening the gate with its clever mechanism that prevents people from the outside reaching in and – oh, yet another world! not the world of the bus stop at the north gate, not the busy in-and-out world of the cornerstore (yes, right at the corner of carrall and cordova) but a world that announced itself first and foremost through smell. the smell of urine. people marking the territory on the other side of the tracks? people, at any rate, who live a very different life than the people who live at the van horne.

i still don’t know what to make of it all. there’s still a lot of firsts for me at the van horne. lots to explore, lots to wonder about, lots of stereotypes to be examined.

isabella mori

p.s. oh, and here’s another bizarre tidbit: i’m going to a gala next week – and i’m supposed to wear a gown!

a gown?

i spent years in an environment where jeans and a sweatshirt were office attire.

am i on the outside of the gates looking in, or on the inside looking out? gowns, jeans, gates …


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