The following is a guest post by Tia Everitt from Chilliwack — thanks for the contribution
It was the one place my husband and I swore up and down that we would NEVER, EVER live.
It was a place we raced through on the highway, en route to the Okanagan, or to get back to Vancouver. We plugged our noses as we gagged on the cloying, ever-present stench of cow manure. We snickered at the tacky billboards all the way in and out of the Fraser Valley. We made jokes about inbreeding. We chuckled at the omnipresent “Corn Barns” that dotted the landscape in the summer. From time to time we stopped to get cheap gas or make a pit stop. But live there? Ha! Not us. No way.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
We had spent the last four years in Richmond after working in Toronto. First, we leased a swanky (but microscopic) condo on the water. Then we had a baby. The place was small, but we could make due, right? Wrong! I got pregnant again (oops), only a week after returning to work from a year long maternity leave. Now we were over the barrel. We moved onto a turn of the century heritage home, which was spacious, but was far from energy efficient. That sucker bled us dry. But, hubby used YVR nearly weekly for travel, and we couldn’t fathom leaving Richmond. So we paid out the nose, and dreamed about buying a place of our own. Unfortunately, real estate in Richmond is unaffordable for nearly everyone but God. We admitted that we were never going to be able to buy on Lulu Island. We started looking to buy a home.
Everywhere but Chilliwack.
We cruised Mission. We stomped Abbotsford. We went to open houses in Maple Ridge and Port Coquitlam. We talked about moving to the Island. Nothing seemed to be coming together. Months turned to years. We’d stalk MLS for homes we could afford, and over and over, we’d make sure we had deselected Chilliwack. Chilliwack was for chumps. We were going to find that magical place. Somewhere.
After several false starts in Mission, we lowered our standards, and made an offer on a massive, hideous 60’s box house in Yarrow. Sure, Yarrow was technically in Chilliwack, but it had character, right? We ran around, crowing about the ugly box with a great yard that we were closing on. That was, until the building inspector informed us that it was a rat trap, and not worth our time. Shattered, we revoked our offer, and lost $400 on the inspection. Time ticked on. We ran in circles.
One morning in January, an MLS update from a realtor slid into our inbox. It depicted the most benign, beige, boring house in existence. It was brand new, and in our price range, but it was so bland and completely devoid of personality. It was also in a sterile planned neighborhood. Where every other house was beige. In god-forsaken Chilliwack. I was opposed, and immediately shot it down. Who the hell wanted to live in a ticky-tacky box on the hillside of Chilliwack? Sure it had 4 bedrooms and 4 baths – but the damn thing was about as exciting as a bowl of Cream of Wheat.” I’d rather be shot at dawn than view that listing” I informed my husband.
Words? Meet my mouth. I will be eating you.
We have been living in Chilliwack for 6 months now. In THE beige house. With beige walls. Surrounded by beige carpets. In a sea of identical houses with beige siding and cookie cutter heather/lavender gardens out front. I have been slowly acclimatizing to the nights devoid of airplanes soaring over my bedroom. To the lack of fire trucks, ambulances and police cars racing past my house all day long. To the quiet of a street with little traffic, where children actually play outdoors, and, even more amazingly, people say hello. Chilliwack, it turns out, is breathtakingly gorgeous. The mountains soar around lush fields, icy rivers and pristine lakes. You get used to the cow smell. People are friendly. Nice even. The corn is fantastic. From time to time, I have a twang of longing for the hustle and bustle of Richmond or Toronto, but it soon fades.
Hello, Chilliwack? Please forgive me! I was wrong. I think I just might be falling in love with you…