ICELAND

thursday: jet-lagged eyes make their way into a small café. we fill our plates with salt. we drive forward, dipping our hands into the earth along the way. the land is always in transition here; constantly becoming and unbecoming. a waterfall greets me from afar.

friday: a haven by the lake; half kitschy, mostly home. we watch the glaciers meeting the ocean, introducing one another like a ceremonial song. i count how many ways water can look: 1. falling from above 2. bigger than the horizon 3. floating patiently 4. abandoned on the shore. i lose count.

saturday: after eating scallops on a patio, we go to a place that made me think i was seeing light for the first time. it looks like an indoor sunset, the visual version of wind chimes, a mirror for someone’s heart. i take note that nobody here plays music just to fill the silence.

sunday: our skin is caked with the sea. i give up trying to describe the colour “blue,” letting the word rise up in steam for a while. we have butter, croissants, and a latte with our backs against a window.

monday: we try to beat the sun, but it wins 18-6. the world is overexposed.

 

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solstice

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1. When people say, “Others will find healing in your suffering,” you can either take it as a cop-out answer to what you are going through or you can believe it. But I promise you that if you choose the latter – bigger, more powerful things will come of it.

Remember, if you ever feel like you’re backtracking, it’s not true, because everyday is a choice and some days are harder to choose what is good than others.

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2. It makes sense that I met you in a time where everything is blooming. It makes sense that I met someone who understands that the past has made me who I am, but doesn’t make me who I am. Someone once looked at us and said to me, “This makes sense.” This makes sense.

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3. We used to throw a backyard BBQ every summer solstice, and we would celebrate the longest day of the year laying in the grass; everything smelling like sunscreen and smokey meat and everything tasting like watermelon. The word solstice has always been one of my favourites, because it means the highest point and also the lowest point. Some solstices are shucking oysters by the sea and swimming pool chlorine, and some solstices are Christmas lights and seeing the stars before dinnertime, but all solstices have a way to be celebrated.

SEATTLE

Seattle is a place that looks like home and feels like something new, so we did all my favourite things that I would do at home. We went to bookstores, drank yummy coffee, perused record stores, ate our way through downtown, touched way too many vintage dresses, and stopped at the flower markets (although Grace never lets me buy anything because she says it makes her sad when the flowers die). Felicia said, “Sometimes you don’t know whether you need to get out of your city or if you just need to get out of the city,” and I’ve been taking the time lately to do a bit of both. I’ve always been frustrated in not knowing what it is I really need or having others unable to articulate what they need, but I’ve been learning over and over again that figuring out what we really need is a worthwhile, timely process. If we really knew what we needed, we wouldn’t need anything or anyone else, ya feel?

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HOME

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After an intense Christmas break, the most genuine wedding I have ever been to, a month of school, many pairs of shoes filled with rainwater, and two new jobs, I sat down this weekend and admitted that I am 100% integrated back into Vancouver life. I carry a pair of sunglasses in my bag while wearing rain boots. I’ve made up for all the sushi I didn’t eat on exchange. I even told someone that they should have put their food in the compost bin. I’m still in the middle of figuring out how Bordeaux-Rebekah and Vancouver-Rebekah are going to get along, but as of right now, I am choosing to be present here in this city (and I know this because I’ve stopped searching up tickets on Skyscanner). The best way I can put how the past few weeks have been is that I have been:

a) slowly and surely closing doors in my heart. So many of them have been opened for far too long; some I know are being shut too soon. All feel like I’ve jammed my fingers between the cracks, and I need someone to pry me away. All are needed. It has been a painful, but necessary process and a process that seems to have no stop date. But the best thing about it is that I know there is freedom at the end of this!

b) learning that I have a community here. Coming home means relearning my good and bad ties. It means realizing that I’m not this lone traveller anymore, and I’m not just putting my questions out into the universe hoping for an answer. I’m still putting my questions out to people who may not be able to answer them, but at least they’re people who know me well. One thing my manager always says to me is, “Be heard.” It sounds strange, but I am relearning how to be heard.

c) seeing that adventure is around the corner no matter where in the world I am! Grace and I went to Golden Ears Provincial Park to shoot, and I’ve posted what we came up with. Videography is probably never going to be my medium of choice. I don’t have nearly enough skills to produce something I’m actually willing to put up for real critique, but it’s so much fun to play with!

d) writing poetry?! I have always tried to be poetic but have had trouble calling my writing poetry, It’s such a weighted word, and one of the bravest forms of writing I’ve ever encountered. But my goal for this semester is to write one poem that I’m proud enough of to share aloud. So to put more of myself out there, here’s something I wrote for my Creative Writing class:

Seabed

The first time I met the ocean
She crushed me in her embrace.
I followed wet footprints on dripping docks
Like a breadcrumb trail of sea salt
Dove into her arms headfirst as if there was a pillow on the bottom
Eyes closed and hands reaching for level eight swimming pool lessons
I was met with green fingertips and a tight grip
My feet scrambled for a ghost step
And missed
I heard thunder in her heartbeat
Saw sinking ships in her veins –
This was the deep end.

The second time I met her
She received me like a postcard.
She was a cradle
Soft yarn like cat’s cradle
She, the silk ribbon waves
I, the maypole
She was the mouth of the whale
That Jonah knew well
I trusted her; toes first
Then legs,
Then hips,
Then torso
Even up to my neck
Loose fingers, no chokehold on my throat
Her arms a winter duvet around my chest
A bed first cold; then warm.

SWITZERLAND

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1. An excerpt from a letter I received right before I left for Switzerland:

“‘He climbed a mountain and invited those He wanted with Him. They climbed with Him.’ – Mark 3:13

So many significant things happen when Jesus goes to a mountain – the transfiguration, the sermon on the mount, the temptation by the enemy. But so many seemingly ordinary things, like praying and simply being with His disciples. I want to pray this image over you today.”

I never thought I would miss seeing mountains so much, but it has always been nice looking up and seeing something constant; to know that there is always something sacred within your peripherals.

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2. We trained through 4 cities in 4 days, but we spent most of our time in Interlaken, which is a quiet little town that is simultaneously retirement paradise and every adrenaline junkie’s dream. The town is wedged between two of the most turquoise lakes I have ever seen, and when I got out of the train station, I did a 360 turn and everywhere I looked, there was a mountain in sight. It’s a different kind of paradise.

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3. We hiked up to Harder Kulm, and it was 3 hours of uphill sweating, snow slipping, and heaving breathing, but we went through golden forest, rolling green hills, and fields of snow, and the view at the top was insane, so it was definitely worth every step. On our way up, we met a very cute Swiss couple who had just come back from a trip across America, had done exchange in Australia, and were heading to Bali next week for a year. They’re not the first people I’ve met on this trip who’s goals are travel-oriented. I’ve talked to Australian backpackers (so many Australian backpackers!), an Irish woman who fell in love with Southeast Asia, and a Frenchman who’s dream is to move to Chile – all of them always thinking about where they are heading next. And I often feel the same. My next month’s itinerary is packed, and I’m already thinking about where I’m going to jet off to next year. But one thing is for certain: the place I’m most excited to travel to is Vancouver. It doesn’t matter how many mountains I climb or how many places I see the ocean from, home is special and I think my home has the best mountains and the best ocean.

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4. Usually I pass out on trains, but while we rode through Switzerland, I couldn’t help but try to battle the window reflections and attempt to catch a few shots of what we were passing by. It’s HaRi’s dream to move here for a few years, and I see that dream in full force now. Every time I looked up, it was a change of scene, and I couldn’t believe how this country is a postcard come to life.

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5. We met a girl named Sofia on one of our train rides. She was a violinist who had left home to chase her dreams of becoming a professional soloist, and she was travelling to Switzerland to take a master class.

Chasing a dream like this will kill you if you don’t love it. You have to love it.”

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6. Zurich is a city that feels like Christmas. It is so full of light and life, and I love the way how people still insist on sitting outdoors even though it’s freezing out, so restaurants and cafes leave blankets out for their customers. We warmed our hands with hot coffee, even though the waiter laughed at us for ordering espressos instead of gin and tonics at 9 pm (“The cows go to bed after 6!”), and we filled out stomachs with fondue in the coziest bistro. On Sunday morning, Zurich was slate grey with overcast skies and a silver lake, and it was still beautiful but it was the first time I have ever seen a place more colorful in the dark than the light.

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HAMBURG

Even though I was in Europe for less than 2 weeks, I decided to go out on a limb and take a solo trip to the beautiful city of Hamburg! Unfortunately, my trip had to be cut short, because Air France went on strike during my time there, so my 5-day stay pretty much turned into a 3-day one, which was not enough to see all that the city has to offer. I still tried to make the best of it, and here are some stories and photos:

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1. The Reeperbahn Festival – I was missing Canada a little bit, and oddly enough, flying to Germany brought me close to some west coast sounds. I saw some of my favourite Vancouver and Calgary bands play, and was super stoked to see Brian work his magic on the cello! There is something about seeing a familiar face in an unfamiliar place that makes a city feel both brand new and like a place that’s recognizable.

The Reeperbahn is a street filled with bars, strip clubs, and other questionable things, and it’s famous for having Hamburg’s Red Light District. It was super cool to see the whole area turned into a festival for concerts, film, art, spoken word and other creative ventures. I should have made better use of my ticket, but the time that I spent wandering in and out of venues seeing artists from all over the world was incredible. The air was electric, and in every corner (and even underground), there were bands playing from every genre. It’s crazy that all these people come to see artists they’ve never heard of and are completely receptive to it. A lot of the bars were jam-packed, and for one of Jordan Klassen’s shows, there were listeners lined up outside the window just to catch a few hints of melody. Not to mention, it was so great that even in a foreign city, there was a group of Canadians belting out the lyrics to all of We Are The City’s songs, and it all felt like an extended deja vu – the kind of “I’ve seen this before” that is good and familiar.

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JORDAN KLASSEN

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BOREAL SONS

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WE ARE THE CITY

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2. One of my favourite areas that I explored was Sternschanze. My friend Anna wrote me a guide to Hamburg before I left, and she described it as, “the place where all the hipsters live,” haha. There’s a dreamy coffee shop there called Kaffee Elbgold, and tons of cute little boutiques and unique stores that specialize in things like cabinet knobs and buttons.

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3. If you ever want to meet one of the most genuine human beings in the world, you should meet Max! He and his family hosted me for the weekend, and I was blown away by what Germany hospitality looks like. I was so well taken care of this week, and my heart is full of gratitude. There were so many mishaps like empty bike racks, broken elevators, and endless ways fate was being unkind to us, but we kept telling ourselves to look at the bright side, and it still ended up being the best day with the best beer and the best food. It was not enough time to look at everything in depth, but if you only have a short glance at a city, it’s always good to have someone by your side who looks at his home through rose coloured glasses (meant in the best way possible!) and used to study some history. We went through HafenCity using every means of transportation possible – we biked, we drove, we walked, we bussed, we trained, and we took a boat, and I think a day in Hamburg with someone so positive, sacrificial, and has a heart of gold is better than a week there alone.

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4. It’s hard not to fall in love with a city with so much water in it. All of Hamburg is laced with rivers and revolves around the Alster Lake, and Max told me that it’s the city that has the most bridges in the world (this still needs to be fact checked). I really believe that cities like this aren’t built; they’re grown from the bottom up.

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5. “If you had a boat, what would you name it?”

“Fernweh.”

“What does that mean?”

“You know the feeling of being homesick? It’s the opposite of that.”

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6. I ask to stop while we are riding to try to snap the red brick walls and glowing waters of Speicherstadt, but my hands are too shaky to capture the light. A passing by photographer lends me his tripod, and I try over and over again, but it still doesn’t look right. We walk away and Max says to me, “It’s okay, we’ll just save a photograph in our minds.” And I think about how it feels like a well-kept secret that only we know what this place looked like at this specific time. Sometimes there are better places to store images than memory cards, and sometimes our hands are too clumsy to catch the light, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to do it.

Portland Photo Set Part 2

After 7 hours in a cramped car (because Abraham decided to buy a television while we were in Oregon, so our new friend Samsung hung out with us in the back), we finally made it home last night! For our final day in Portland, we only had the best – the best coffee, the best doughnuts, and the best view in the Oregon coast. As we were driving down to Cannon Beach, everyone in the car had only one response: “Woah.” And it took everything within us to tear ourselves away from the beach and head home.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much video footage this, because I was really sick for one of the days I was in Portland (I know, of all places to fall ill), but here’s one of the songs I was thinking about using for video I would have made:

I’m really glad the boys let me tag along for this road trip to the chillest city on earth. There is something about big cities that feel small that always get to me, and I’m 100% convinced that the west coast is the best coast. 2 weeks left in Vancouver, and then I’m off to a different kind of west coast!

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