My home town and I have a love/hate relationship with one another. I grew up in Birken, which is half an hour outside of Pemberton, which is half an hour outside of Whistler. Most people give me a blank stare when I mention Pemberton, so I usually just say ‘near Whistler.. you know, where the huge ski resort is..’ and usually receive a much better response. Throughout this post, I’ll just be referring to Pemberton rather than Birken. For one, Pemberton has a better ring to it. For two, Pemberton is where I went to school, and at least it’s on the map.
I loved growing up in Pemberton for many reasons. My parents moved there from Surrey when I was 7 to get out of the city, to somewhere where they could raise me without having to worry about me joining a Surrey Bitch gang when I turned 14. Pemberton was where I first learned how to throw a good punch. I can tell stories about how we had to walk 4 kilometres to get anywhere, played in the neighbours yards where we would find caves, snakes and the occasional bat. We spent our summers at Gates Lake. Summers where I would fall asleep on the porch with no sunscreen on, waking up to 2nd degree burns and a parent screaming ‘Awmb! What are you doinnng???!’.
I also remember the 45 minute bus ride to school every day. Until I bought a car when I was 16. There were 300 people in our school, and half of them were related (no incest jokes please). As well, there were 39 in my grad class, including me, and everyone pretty much got along, with the occasional fight. And who can forget the rivalries between the rich Whistler bitches and Pemberton hick kids?
And the views are INCREDIBLE.
Some of the reasons why I hate Pemberton:
The only reason anyone knows where it is is because of the Pemberton Music Festival that happened this year. Basically, 60,000 city folk invaded my town, complained about having to walk everywhere, paid $7 a beer once they were in the gates, listened to some [I must admit] incredible bands (See also: Tom Petty, Jay-Z, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, DJ Shadow, Sam Roberts… I could go on), and left the biggest mess ever.
In Pemberton, everyone knows your name and your story. I remember one day when I picked up smoking in grade 9. I was afraid of anyone ratting me out to my parents, so we always went behind the school, on the road that wasn’t very busy. Obviously, my parents reemed me out about a week later, and I denied everything. I didn’t smoke any more after that, for fear of losing my pride when my parents would find out that I was lying.
There’s nothing for a young person to do there but start drinking when you’re 13. And there’s especially nothing to do when you live half an hour out of town. Whenever you wanted to go to a friend’s house on the weekend, you had to ask your parents for a ride into town. The only thing was, your parents work on the weekends, and the only ride you will receive is at 7:30am. You have to call your friend and ask them to leave the door open, and when you get there, you crawl into bed for another 3 hours until you actually do anything.
I basically lived under a rock and missed out on 1990’s pop culture because where of we lived. We weren’t within range of cable (and still aren’t) and we didn’t get Satellite television until I was about 16. When my parents actually decided to jump on the technology bandwagon they also bought a computer and had dial-up until about a year ago.
Pemberton is so close to Whistler, that it is pretty much overshadowed. However, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games have shaped the town in the last 5 years. Every time I go back there, there are at least 2 new buildings.
My final reason for disliking Pemberton is that there are less people I know every time I visit. There’s definitely no future for young people, so they all up and leave, going to nearby cities. So even though everyone in Pemberton knows each other, everyone from Pemberton don’t know shit. Which is really sad. Because I like being recognized when I go back.