Seven Three Exchange.

My family has been in this city, lived in this part of the city, for a long time. My parents were born here. I have lived within a few square-mile radius for the entirety of my life, except for summers in Port Hardy. Phone-number-wise, that means I live in the Seven-Three Exchange.

When I was a little girl, all my friends had phone numbers that started with 73. I made friends further afield, and then I had friends on the other side of Dunbar, whose numbers started with 22. I made friends in East Van over in the 43s. And downtown were friends in the 68 exchange. You knew where people lived based on their phone numbers.

But then the phone company said that people could take their phone numbers with them when they moved! And that 22 number from UBC? They could be anywhere. It was very unsettling. Of course, it was so very convenient for people who were moving, but, dammit, it was confusing for those of us who knew the system!

And then then! Vancouver got too big to just have one area code. There had to be two. And, of course, I got a phone with the other one, the new one, the nontraditional one. It felt weird. I was like, “I live in Vancouver, I’m a 604 girl, people!”

My dad kept the 73 number when he moved to the Island. He got another number, an Island number, but there was no way my grandmother was going to be able to remember another number. So when that phone rang, he knew it was either me or her.

But now her Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where she can’t have a phone in her room. She’s unpredictable. So. The number is free.

I asked Dad if I could have the number. He said I could.

So I’m going back to a 73 number. It’s a strange inheritance, the phone number of my childhood. But Dad’s funny. He wants to keep it in the family. And me, I want the first phone number I ever learned to be my number. I want to keep it in the family, too. I want to be a 604 girl again, and have a number from the Seven-Three exchange.

Is it weird to see a phone number as an heirloom?

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