MALMÖ

Before going to Malmö, I knew two things about the city: it is very close to Copenhagen and two of my beautiful friends live there! Seeing Emma and Filippa again after our exchange in France felt like no time has passed in two years. They know my heart so well, taking me to get ice cream and going to cute coffee shops. A bit of France followed us wherever we went: the first thing I ate was a charcuterie board with wine, we played Petanque (which is basically French curling), I looked down at a cider I was having and it just so happened to be French. There was a bit of nostalgia, but I also loved that we could all catch up with the here and now.

The best thing about my short stay in Malmö wasn’t the shopping or lovely cafes or dining at the top of fancy hotels – it was spending a weekend with my friends as if I wasn’t travelling to spend a weekend with my friends. We made tacos at home, sat on the couch and watched Eurovision and Beyoncé videos, and had a candy-filled girls’ sleepover. Filippa kept saying, “Oh it’s so great to see you in my home! It’s so great to see you eating at my table!” and I feel like that captures what the best thing was about it all. Togetherness is inviting each other into our homes and into the normal things in our lives, and more than adventure and small luxuries, those are often the things that matter the most.

See you soon, my darlings!

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The Things You Deserve

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When they tell you that you do not deserve to say goodbye,
Be humble.
But also know this:
You deserve to have kisses planted on your skin like postage stamps sending you off;
To have fingers wrapped around yours like envelopes and creased letters smeared with jam and ink smudges so you can remember that you have made contact.
You deserve to come with suitcases full of empty jars, and have your loved ones whisper, “I love you,” into them, so you have a hundred different ways to remember that you are beloved.
You deserve to bottle up the sound of wild geese, the Pacific Ocean, and how your voice echoes off mountain tops.
To be humble means that you do not always get what you deserve, but know deeply in your heart that you have deserved every west coast sunset, every thank you, and every overflowing jar.
I once wrote a poem about your atlas hands;
About how God’s east winds carried you to a city that never stops raining –
I wish I did not have to continue writing it.

Toronto Photoset Part 2

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COOKIE SHOP (choose your own dough and toppings and they bake it on the spot!!!!!): The Red Bench

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BARGAIN CENTRE (that will be closing down soon for condo construction, boooo): Honest Ed’s

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MEXICAN RESTAURANT (we waited for an hour for dinner and drinks on the patio, but I would say it was worth it!): El Catrin

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VINTAGE STORE ($10 everything!!): Black Market Vintage

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GELTAO/CHOCOLATE SHOP: Soma Chocolate

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KOREAN CAFE: Cafe Soban

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BOARD GAME CAFE: Castle Board Game Cafe

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If you follow me on social media, you will know that I am very invested in my friends Grace and Ben. Most of the time, when people start dating, they spend less time with their friends, but we are a huge exception. I got amoeba’d into their relationship, and we even endearingly call each other “Bae Ho,” “Bae Chen,” and “Bae Kim.” We used to see each other everyday when we were back in Vancouver, but with us all being in separate cities this summer, we had very prolonged, sad goodbyes at the end of May, because I was certain that I wouldn’t see them until January. Anticlimactically enough, I showed up in Toronto (mostly because I missed them both too much), and so did Ben for the weekend, and we were all able to be reunited together for a few days! For the past year, they are the people I have been growing with, been encouraged by, and been walking through sorrows with. They are the kind of people that I’m more than willing to fly across the country for. We’ve all had more than our fair share of crap this year, but to grapple with change and distance together has been worthwhile.

Evelyn

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I first met Evelyn in my grad year of high school. She was fresh-faced and somehow seemingly unphased to be in a new school in a country she had never been to before. I was told to look out for her, but by the end of the week, she had more friends than me, winning people over with her sweet tooth smile and a boldness that I thought was beyond a 14-year old’s reach. Whenever I am in Hong Kong, I feel like she is the one taking care of me – teaching me over desserts and city lights that when there are shadows, there is sunshine somewhere to be found. She finds her courage in bringing the shameful out of darkness and learns over and over again how to choose forgiveness over leaving.

2 and a Half Stories

44550_425424290291_5000477_n 1. This is the story of Amy Ma and Rebekah Ho. I thought it would be appropriate to write this not only because I’m in the city where we met, but also, because Amy graduated from UPenn today!!! Congratulations Amy!

In the summer of 2008, Rebekah left her home in Vancouver for the first time on her own to live at camp called OCAC for 6 weeks. She arrived in Taipei, a city she had never been to before, with no family, one friend, and no idea how to speak Mandarin. The very first friend she made at OCAC who’s name was Amy Ma (which by the way is a palindrome). The details are unclear of how their friendship really began, but it started with a kind gesture and a pack of UNO cards. Amy liked stripes and was very pale. She wore her heart on her sleeve, which meant that if she liked you, you would know, and vice versa. Thankfully, Rebekah felt very loved by Amy (and didn’t have to face her wrath). That summer, Amy made Rebekah try a lot of new things like dance onstage to a song about chocolate and befriend people that she usually wouldn’t talk to, which all generally turned out to be challenging but valuable experiences. Amy also introduced Rebekah to her kryptonite: shopping. And with that, a best friendship formed. Every morning, Amy and Rebekah would walk to breakfast together, and on the weekends, they would go out with their friends for karaoke and hot pot. They spent just about every waking moment together from the first day of camp until the last day of camp. When Amy went home to Philadelphia, Rebekah cried harder than she ever did in all 15 years of her life. They kept in touch via Skype, Facebook, and snail mail, and they promised to see each other again in the near future.

Two years later, Rebekah and Amy planned to go to camp together again, but Rebekah didn’t get in. Rebekah was discouraged but determined and decided to fly to Taipei anyways to live with Amy for two weeks. They were both very nervous at first, because a lot can change in two years. It was hard to keep in touch, and they weren’t able to keep Skyping once a week like they did before. But when Rebekah walked through the airport door, and Amy hopped a railing (that Rebekah was pretty sure was taller than her) just to get to her quicker, they knew they would be just fine. They spent those two weeks eating and shopping together, and somehow, Amy managed to make Rebekah take a not-so-fun hip hop class with her (there seems to be a theme of dancing in their friendship).

In 2011, Amy and Rebekah went to OCAC again together. It was the same, but different. Amy and Rebekah’s friendship grew even more that summer, and they learned a lot about honesty and vulnerability. They learned how to grow with each other and how to grow without each other. They learned that it’s okay for things to change while they’re apart as long as the friendship changes with it. Long distance relationships/friendships/anythings are never easy, but Rebekah has always and will always be confident in this friendship, because Amy and Rebekah continue to be invested in each other’s lives despite the miles between them.

To be continued… IN NEW YORK THIS JULY!!!

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2. Today we went to the biggest bookstore in Taipei, where I disappeared into the shelves for a little while. When I came back, my dad had picked out this book for me. Unfortunately, it’s all in Chinese, but the photography is stunning, and it outlines all the best coffee shops in Taipei. He said it was because he knows one day I will probably live here and visit all those coffee shops. I have always told him that I’ve felt more at home in Taiwan than I do in Hong Kong (even though our family is from there), and today he told me he finally understood why. It made me realize that all these years, he’s been sending me to Taiwan without understanding why I wanted to go. He knew it was a good opportunity for me to see the world, but he never had the full picture until this trip. I’ve always been frustrated that my father has never been a man that asks me why. He rarely asks me how I’m doing and often says no before hearing my reasoning, but when he gives me his yes, it’s a solid yes. He doesn’t need a reason why. He just supports me, no questions asked.

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3. We somehow managed to pack in almost all of Taipei into one day. We went to Yong Kang St. for lunch and shaved ice, the National Palace Museum, the Miramar Ferris Wheel, and Shilin Night Market. By the time we got to the night market, I thought I was going to pass out, but I was suddenly rejuvenated by oyster omlettes and the thought of new shoes. I was going to write an actual third story, but we did too much today, so goodnight!