There's no place like Home...
by Greg Blanchette, Tofino
Dear Sunset Beach Advice Dude,
I got the “Dear Occupant” letter in April, just like last
year and the year before that, saying I had to be out of my rental
suite by June 1, and omigod, just like the past two years I like did
nothing about it until zero hour arrived. The first year I lucked into
a place, and the second year I was five months pregnant so people took
pity on me. Well here it is again: As of June 1 my son and I were officially
couchsurfing, along with everything we own — guitar, laptop,
wetsuits, Jolly Jumper, diaper bag and all. My friends are good people
but I don’t know how much longer they can put up with a wailing
eight-month-old. I greatly fear it’s the woods for us, for we
cannot possibly leave dear Tofino in the summertime but there’s
like zero available accommodation. What can I do? I’m totally
humiliated by my lack of planning, so just sign me,
“Soon Homeless in Tofino”
Dear S.H.I… oops, maybe I’d better just say Karla because,
let’s face it, dearie, it’s a small town and everybody
knows everybody else’s business.
Darling, you’re in the same boat as a lot of other people on
this rain-blessed coast. You may live in denial six dark months of
the year, but for the other six you’ve got to come to grips with
the fact that we’re a tourist town, and tourists need summer
accommodations. And though you may rail against the injustice, preach
the sanctity of community, or gripe about the toxic fog of self-interest
that chokes a town when it turns into a place to make money off, it’s
as immutable as the weather. As someone far more poetic than I once
said, darling, “Ours is not to question why, ours is but to move,
So get a grip. Examine the options. As you’re no doubt aware,
notice boards and “accommodation wanted” ads in the newspaper
are useless. All you’ll get are calls from smug people demanding
four-figure rents and, worse, who know they’re going to get them
as the desperation level goes through the roof. If worst comes to worst
you could live in Ucluelet, though heaven knows rentals down there
are also tight as a fishplant worker on Saturday night. No, you’re
a good-looking young hen, Karla, so for the likes of you there’s
just one ploy: Darling, love is in your future.
Let me quote my friend Juliette, formerly of Tofino but now departed
for more rental- and career-friendly environs. “Relationships
in Tofino,” Juliette always said, “are all about accommodations.”
In fact, dearies, I have cleverly coined a term for this phenomenon: “accommolationships” — a
groundbreaking field of social science in which you, Karla my pumpkin,
are in dire need of a crash course.
Juliette was an expert; as you might expect with a name like hers,
she was born to romantic upheaval. Though she arrived in Tofino a
bashful debutante in the full press of the summer jam, in no time she
had blossomed into a grande dame who, in coming years, bounced from
one house to another, each more magnificent than the last. She owed
it all to a string of torrid accommolationships.
It might cross your mind there’s something unsavory about this,
but darling, it’s the 21st century. Plus it’s Tofino, so
a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do — especially
when she has an eight-month-old. (How is young Darty, by the way?)
It’s good to have structure to your search, so you can move through
the possibilities quickly. Juliette had three firm rules, and she was
never shy about sharing them: 1) He’s got to have clean feet.
2) He’s got to have a job that does not involve the cultivation,
selling or use of marijuana. And 3) He’s got to have a passion
in life that does not involve the cultivation, selling or use…” I
don’t believe I ever heard her finish that last rule, but you
can fill in the blank, can’t you, hon?
Needless to say, he must also have a roof over his head. This means
that new guys in town — no matter how hot, cool, rad, flip, ripped,
gorgeous, spicy or whatever — are not contenders for your affection.
They too will be on the hunt for true love that comes with shingles
(not the medical kind).
The sudden interest of local acquaintances of the opposite sex is
to be viewed with suspicion. Vet them first: ask around. Make sure
not on the same accommolationship mission you are. If they are, don’t
waste your time. If not: congrats, you’ve found love everlasting — at
least until the rental market loosens up this fall.
Take little Darty with you when you go trolling, dearie, to play
up the sympathy factor and so you don’t spring any unpleasant surprises
on your potential targets. Make-up, tastefully applied, might be a
good idea to set you apart from the madding crowd. Don’t overdo
it, though. Nothing says “desperation” like a Tough citizen
looking for digs in the summer. It puts a stink on you worse than a
trawl boat on a hot day.
In the unhappy event all the good accommolovers are taken, it’s
time to fall back on your own resources — which, in your role
as new mom, you’re doubtless discovering are considerable. Camo-pattern
tarps are one excellent idea, now that there’s a veritable posse
of bylaw officers combing the peninsula.
And take heart. No scientist or consultant can say how it happens — Lord
knows they’ve done the studies — but somehow, everyone
eventually finds a place, even if it’s only somebody’s
bathtub or the top bunk of a Westfalia. In the meantime, count your
troubles as tuition in a course on planning for next spring.
Hugs and kisses,
Sunset Beach Advice Dude
P.S. — If it does come to that grim, tent-in-the-bush scenario,
the northwest corner of Sunset Beach is a bad place. Very bad. Don’t
ask why, just stay away, okay?
may have to leave town if something doesn’t break on the accommodation
front real soon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.