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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.

Becoming Home

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1. Some places become home without you noticing. It starts with the first time you get a good night’s sleep. And then one day, you find yourself saying, “I’ll be home soon,” or “I come home next Wednesday.” Sometime home looks like a thief in the night stealing away all the things that made you feel unsafe. When you wake in the morning, it smells like hot coffee and tastes like fresh bread, and you realize that when you weren’t looking, everything that kept rest from smelling and tasting like that has been taken away. Home comes when you start to trust instead of recite, and you are welcomed with arms of empathy instead of fear. It sneaks up behind you and you catch yourself thinking: “This is what it’s supposed to be like.”

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2. No matter how many times I order coffee here, I’m always surprised that it comes in tiny cups.

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3. Have you ever noticed that vintage stores smell the same no matter where you are? A lot of people hate it, but I’d like to think that it’s what stories and history smell like – like old books or a musk that can only be created by time.

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4. I almost deleted this photo because there was an out-of-place body, but I kept it because I liked how the surfers look like birds on a wire, but out in the ocean instead of the sky. We were watching a group of surf students warm up on the beach, and somebody pointed out how you could tell how eager they all were to get into the water. They reminded me of toy cars all wound up to be released, and when their teacher finally said, “Go,” they were let go like cannonballs into the sea.

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5. This is the garden of our house that we’re not allowed to go in. I often stand on our balcony and dream about having breakfast in the garden or having a candle-lit party there like we sometimes do at Anna’s. There are grape vines that crawl all the way up to the second floor, and I think about whether the world’s greatest love story would have changed if Juliette had been brave enough to climb down the branches instead of waiting for Romeo to come up to her. Today while I looked down, I wondered why we are so fixated on forbidden fruit and why the heart longs for the things it cannot have. But in this case, the grass is literally greener on the other side.

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6. It’s been nice unravelling Bordeaux bit-by-bit. I’m so used to shotgunning cities like freshman beers – trying to drink it all as quickly as possibly, but usually half of it slips past sloppy lips and ends up on the concrete. But here, we live in a paradox of having all the time in the world and having only 4 short months, but it is a good paradox to be in. We meander through newly discovered streets, and make “next time” lists, knowing that “next time” could be tomorrow or next week or maybe even never, but at least the possibility of sooner than later keeps the list ever-growing. This is often what hope is: a list that knows it will probably never be completed, but keeps growing anyways.

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.