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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.

Kyoto

I am sad that we only got to spend one day in Kyoto. Tiff and I watched Memoirs of a Geisha last week and were reveling in the thought of possibly spotting one (it’s very rare unless you want to shell out tons of money) but we didn’t get to go to the Geisha District at all. Nonetheless, I loved our short stay in Kyoto.

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1. I was talking to a friend about fashion in Japan and she put it really well when she said, “Their voice is through their fashion style.” I love the idea that style is a means of telling other people who you are without having to use words.

2. I take and Instagram more pictures than the average human being, but even I have times where I lift the camera to my face and then decide not to take a shot, because I want to save the moment for myself. Looking at life through a lens has been one of the greatest gifts for me, but everyone needs to treasure the things that can only be seen behind closed eyelids.

3. If you are caught in an earthquake in Japan, the safest place for you to hide is under the sink, because if you get stuck, you will:

a) have drinking water, and

b) be able to use the drainpipe to call for help.

Osaka

We arrived in Osaka today! We’ve only been in the city for a few hours, but here are three things that I’ve noticed:

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1. When I was in high school, it was really obvious what the trends in fashion were. I remember asking for a TNA hoodie for Christmas, and then everyone started wearing American Apparel and then I was distraught about the switchover to skinny jeans. Japan is the opposite of that. Of course there’s trends like New Balance sneakers, but everyone here is so well-dressed in the sense that they are all doing their own thing. Whether you want to dress grungy or hype or just plain and simple, there’s space for that here, and I like that everyone looks like they love what they are wearing. Being fashionable doesn’t necessarily mean being on point with what’s in style. It’s often more so about representing yourself well.

20140525-232622-84382280.jpg2. It’s bike city here. I thought there were a lot of bikes in Vancouver, but I think there are as many actively used bikes per person in Osaka as there are cellphone owners in Hong Kong (I think the statistic is 1.6 mobile phones per person or something). There’s lines of bicycles packed in front of every shop and restaurant, but unlike Vancouver:

a) People don’t lock up their bikes here. Maybe it’s because every person in the city already has a bike so stealing one wouldn’t be beneficial (but if you did that in Vancouver, it would get stolen in 1.6 seconds).

b) There’s not a lot of bike lanes. It’s like when you try to walk to class at UBC during peak hours, and there’s always that one person who’s trying to bike through a crowd of people, except that one cyclist is many cyclists who are used to people moving out of the way for them.

I’ve had a slight phobia of cyclists since I got ran over by a rogue biker last year (I bled a lot. It sucked.), but I guess it’s time to get over it now.

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3. People are very ritualistic and respectful in worship. We passed by a set of shrines and watched people pray and pay their respects for a little while, and it made me wonder what all their customs and traditions mean. I saw a girl running by, and even though she was obviously in a rush, she still stopped to bow at the shrine. It was such a small, but powerful, gesture of humbleness.