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"There's Nothing Fun to Do Here"
How to find fun when it's not on full display + Episode 2 of Thursdays with Uri
"There's nothing fun to do here."
This is what my uncle (who, as an artist and winery owner, I used to consider the most “fun” person in my extended family), said about Winnipeg, my hometown, when he was last here-to visit his terminally ill sister (my mom).
My brother reminded me of this after informing me that said uncle just told him it wasn’t “worth” coming to his wedding this summer because he’d “only see him for 15 minutes” (never mind that he’d also see me + meet my son, and that he has nothing better to do, but I digress).
I believe our concept of fun has been largely defined (like many things in our lives), by a small yet boisterous segment of the population: bros.
My uncle was (and is) a classic bro. He is tall, handsome, white, fit, and funny. He windsurfs, drinks a lot, and doesn’t think much of others.
Bros tend to need their fun to be served on a platter: beaches with waves to surf and jet skis to rent; mountains with fresh powder and mountain biking trails; stadiums for professional sports and sold-out concerts. Winnipeg is landlocked, flat, and sleepy.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this type of fun. I love beaches and mountains as much as any bro. It’s just that this kind of easy fun can start to skew our perception of where and how to find other types of fun.
Yes, fun is on full display in places like New York, Cancun, or Kelowna (where my uncle lives), but those places kinda ruin you in my opinion (and yes, I count myself as kinda ruined by NYC).
If I’ve learned one thing from growing up in a city that people like my uncle discount, it’s how to create your own fun. There really is no other choice here; you gotta work for it.
So far, between feeling sick and wildfire smog, we’ve done virtually “nothing” in Winnipeg. But don’t mistake that for us not having fun!
Like: our AirBnb is nothing short of ridiculous. Our air conditioning only works if the heat is also on! We have an amazing deck and balcony with great views, but nothing to sit on. We flipped through thousands of channels on the TV and the best thing we could find was a WorldCup quarterfinal game.
Oh it’s been full of laughs. Just check out our sweet bed spread:
Most importantly, we almost didn’t stay here!
Shortly after making our reservation, I returned to the listing and noticed new photos which, to put it politely, made me feel like I’d been conned.
I reached out to the owner for an explanation:
I was convinced I should just cancel the booking, sure I couldn’t possibly be happy staying here:
I searched for alternative accommodations, something that would better conform to the AirBnB aesthetic I had come to expect, but the other options were just as “bad.”
I didn’t reply to the owner asking me to elaborate, instead deciding to keep the original reservation and lower my expectations.
I never would have expected I’d say this, but I’m grateful we didn’t find something from the age of average (side note: did you know that in 1996, 40% of cars sold were black, white, grey, or silver, and now >80% are?! Ugh, why are we getting so boring!?!). Sure, it would have been nice if we found somewhere “nicer” to stay, but it surely wouldn’t have been as memorable.
This place has been a good reminder to me that I don’t want to become like my uncle. I want to believe I can find fun everywhere I go, if I just know how to look for it.
That might mean taking a good look at my own expectations. It might mean taking a deeper look at what’s right in front of me. It might mean looking for the courage and time to talk to a stranger.
Wherever it is that I look, I know that if I can allow myself to be surprised, well, I might find what I’m looking for.
thursdays with uri: episode 2
We’re on a roll! In this episode we discuss Uri’s packing philosophy (yes, he has a packing philosophy), the one packed item that best represents him, and the topic of our worst fights.
Jen: You ready to start this again?
Uri: Let’s have some fun.
Jen: How are you today?
Uri: Peaceful. It's a good day.
Jen: What made it a good day?
Uri: I took the day to think about me and us. I think we are embarking on a really scary adventure.
Jen: What are you most scared of?
Uri: Not being prepared. I want to make sure that I have the fundamental things required to exist in any environment.
Jen: What do you think those fundamental things are?
Uri: A lot of it is trivial. Like. Bathroom utensils. Whatever they're called.
Uri: Toiletries. I think, I think a lot about like, what are our fundamentals? When we think about Teo's schooling, like where do we find a place that we can have values that we want to give to Teo. And I think a lot of that is like, is moving with us. We're packing it with us.
Jen: What that you have packed, do you think best represents you?
Uri: I haven't told you this, but I packed my kitchen apron.
Uri: I did. I packed the apron. And I was going to whip it out one day.
Jen: That's good. Okay. What value do you think the apron represents?
Uri: It's my happy time. You know, I put it on when it's time to have fun.
Jen: Tell me about your packing philosophy.
Uri: Uh, there are two parts to it. One is, that I believe that I can pack anything.
Jen: I feel like I should challenge that.
Uri: You should.
Jen: Like just see how much I can give you and how much you can fit into a carry on .
Uri: Yeah, I need the time to think about it.
Jen: How long were you thinking about packing for this adventure?
Uri: Oh, months in my head. The only analogy I can think of is Batman's utility belt. He has everything around his waist. Everything Batman needs is around his waist. What. It's like such small real estate.
Jen: What's missing from your utility belt?
Uri: You know, when I was in Trinidad, I had a Swiss army knife in my bag. I don't feel safe carrying one of those in the U S.
Uri: I just feel like young black men shouldn't have weapons.
Jen: Yeah. Like in case someone..stopped you.
Uri: Yeah. For me, it's like the ultimate tool.
Jen: It's a sad statement. To say like the one thing that you actually think would be most useful for you to always have on you, you don't feel free to carry.
Uri: I don't feel free to carry it.
Jen: What about, when we're in, say Southeast Asia, would you carry it?
Uri: Yeah. I packed it in my suitcase.
Jen: What about in Winnipeg?
Uri: Probably yeah.
Jen: But have you ever been stopped in New York?
Uri: Uh, yeah, they did the random searches entering subway.
Jen: You think it was random?
Uri: It's pretty random.
Jen: I mean I've never been stopped.
Uri: Well, I guess like of all the black people, I'm a randomly selected black guy haha.
Jen: Ha, okay, so you are looking forward to the day where you can add your Swiss army knife...
Uri: or a good multi-tool.
Jen: Right now you have a big suitcase. That also includes Teo's stuff. And then you have a carry on suitcase. You said two things when we got here:
One, that when you take something out, you're not putting it back in. And then you also said you'll be happy when they're both just empty.
Uri: Yeah. I'll just fly around with empty suitcases, so good.
Jen: So you say you could pack anything that you don't want to pack anything.
Uri: That's the ultimate challenge, right? I think that the amount of things that we have is still too much.
Jen: I agree.
Uri: I know that there's pruning that needs to happen. It would be amazing if it prunes down to just three things, or nothing. You know?
Jen: Like you want to not need anything. You're not going to need anything when you're dead.
Jen: It's very liberating to not need anything. And like, we can probably aspire to that.
Uri: Yeah. I definitely agree.
Jen: I think we should take a picture of like everything you try to put in the suitcase and then the final result. Cause it is kind of a work of art.
Uri: How do you see packing?
Jen: Anywhere I go, I unpack immediately. You don't, your stuff is still in your suitcase. We've been here a week and a half. I unpacked within the first hour. So it's like, do I even need these packing cubes and does it need to be neat in my suitcase? If it is literally just for the plane ride or the car ride.
Uri: That's interesting.
Jen: Anything else to add?
Uri: I would like to know how different I am from other people?
Jen: Well, put it this way, we've probably had some of our worst fights over packing.
Jen: I don't think that's normal.
Jen: I don't think it's bad, we're going to have a fight somewhere. If it's over packing that's fine.
Uri: There are worse things to fight about
Jen: Yeah, I don't think it matters that much to other people. And I will say it matters to me. I really have very, very little. And I still feel like I have too much. And then you take it to another level.
Uri: It's funny. I was thinking today, it'd be good to like build a home. I want it to be a place that you're happy with.
Jen: What do you think. Would make me happy.
Uri: I think I'll be happy with a basement. A place to like tinker. And that's not a home. That's an office. But I think a home would be good for Teo. And to see places that his parents are happy in. For you, a lot of nature, quiet, writing, art, books.
Jen: This sounds very opposite to New York City.
Uri: Well, I think there's a place in New York for you. With a lot of art. And a lot of culture and a lot of interesting conversations with people. Delicious coffee.
Jen: What chances would you put on us having a long-term home in New York?
Uri: 50. Toss of a coin really.
Jen: All right. Well, we'll see. We'll check back in a year. Thank you.
Uri: Okay. Thank you bye bye!