Musings on a life in Fairview

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      I pass the “Open” sign daily.

      Placed precariously in a third-floor window, it calls to everyone who passes by: the South Granville Psychic is always ready to see you.

      When I told some Fairview-based friends I was scheduled for a reading with Star Mistress, the owner of South Granville Psychic, they admitted their mutual curiosity. We have come to appreciate the mysteriousness of our community, only realizing we live close to one another through shared cabs home and unexpected run-ins at outdoor pavilions. Each of us embraces the neighbourhood for its anonymity, hiding within three-storey walk-ups, old-growth trees, and high-end boutiques.

      Knowing a psychic lives among us is a clear indication of the energy in our neighbourhood. 

      Buzzed into Mistress’ apartment, I’m immediately struck by the building’s distinguished Fairview signifiers. These apartments were built sturdily and extravagantly in the 1960s. They offer the pinnacle of last-century luxury with gaudy lobbies, pools, and courtyards. Most units house generous floor plans, thick walls, and screenless windows.

      The Fairview neighbourhood often goes unrecognized, especially by those on the other side of the Granville Street Bridge. It’s likely because the slope’s sprawl is primarily residential (though there is a great theatre and a handful of good spots to eat). This covertness lets my friends and me be ourselves amongst the characters who have long stalked its streets. 

      There is the performer who belts operas as he shuffles east to west, and the homebody who dutifully feeds pigeons from a window each morning. Down by the seawall, an incredibly fit woman walks laps of the stairs between Lamey's Mill Road and the False Creek landing, offering a half-tired smile as she climbs and descends. Each building has a resident stoner, maintaining a haze over the corners. 

      Mistress is a core member of the neighbourhood, too. I follow the scent of burning incense to her door and right away feel at home.

      During my reading, which takes place in her spacious living room, our auras are impacted by the liveliness of our surroundings. Slipped through her mail slot are the same pamphlets I receive from local politicians and rezoning applicants. The construction of a 40-storey building stands erect in Mistress’ view; it rises above the incoming South Granville SkyTrain station. Cars stream from Mount Pleasant to Kits, only pausing for the sirens who wail down West 12th on the way to the nearby hospital. Mistress tells me she keeps the South Granville Psychic sign in her window illuminated 24 hours a day, gently permeating the psyches of the constantly-passing traffic below.

      Julia Dumbrell.

      Reading my own birth chart—from past lives to future fates—is an experience that makes me acutely aware of my aspirations to become a writer. Perhaps my initial reason to visit—writing this article—tipped her off, but Mistress tells me I’ll pursue this profession forever.

      I’m reminded of the day I first stepped into my own Fairview abode. Pin-sized holes that once tacked up posters left residual signs of renters past. Otherwise, the empty space invited me to imagine the ways I’d grow within its walls.

      My experience with Mistress is like a move-in day for my soul. Feeling reflective as I leave her studio, I head back onto Hemlock, which is as busy as it was when I escaped it 90 minutes ago. My experience in Fairview was written in the stars long before I moved in, and I hope it will remain even when I no longer rent here.