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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LONDON

A huge contrast from the empty roads and high sheep-to-people ratio of Iceland, London was dense and occasionally curt. I had forgotten how much I thrived on the hustle: skirting between a maze of people in the tube, picking up speed, getting wrapped up in underground heat. London moves quick and romances you with the draw of royalty and history, often leaving you with tired feet. We saw theatre (Wicked was absolutely spectacular!!), chatted for hours over high tea, ate scotch eggs at Borough Market, and had more pub food than I have in my entire life, but even more, we found little pieces of home in the rain and in bright gardens. I’ve always loved botanical gardens, the way everything feels close and rises above your head, leaning in close, like a roof whispering a secret in your ear.

One thing that I’ve been so grateful for is the unexpected amount of people that I knew in London. It’s just a small handful, but it was the best having people who work hard to make sure you have a good time. Thank you friends, for making this trip so great!

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CORINA

Sometimes you meet someone and your heart screams, “You know me! You know me! Already, you know me!” and for me, this is Corina. I’m not undermining the friendships that have been built over time and effort, because those are worth it, believe me. But it is a gift to be with explanation. It is more rare than you think to be known.

Today we trickled in and out of Shoreditch shops, smelling candles and flowers, running our hands over ceramic and leather, and of course, dreaming over clothes we will never have the money to buy. We licked pastry crumbs off our fingertips, shared stories (so many stories!), and wandered in the London rain. Everywhere she took me was my new favourite place.

We went to Rough Trade, and I showed her a Tobias Jesso Jr. album, because I would describe them both the same way: instantly familiar, nostalgic from the first listen, a piano ballad that reminds me of home. There are some people who you can see their courage and loneliness all at once, and it is the bravest thing.

Thank you for lending me your London for the day, Corina!

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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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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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Bowen Island on Film

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1. Shooting with my DSLR while I was on-the-go was the best, but now that I’m home, I’m more than happy to have my film camera back. The theme of coming home has been relearning everything. I’m relearning how film carries a different weight. I need stillness. I need patience. I need to forgo certain shots in order to take better ones. It takes time to reach the end of a roll. It takes time to receive the final product, and time puts a haze over expectations. Film photography is forgetting, and then remembering again.

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2. Last weekend, we spent our days huddled on Bowen Island in a house on a hill owned by hippies with 3 Juno Awards. We went hiking. We played video games (because the boys obviously could not leave their video games behind). We got drunk, told secrets, and laughed a lot. We were quiet. We were loud. We had dance parties.

For me, the week before was one of those heavy-shoulders, runny make-up, eye-bagged weeks. I literally cried over Richard eating my pizza, because that’s how bad things got. And when the weekend hit, I felt like I could breath again. Getting out of Vancouver physically got me out of that headspace for a few moments, and it was like hitting a reset button. Or maybe it was just the snooze button, but whatever it was – the mountains and the sea do that to you. Rest does that to you.

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3. My favourite thing about the weekend was that we all cooked for each other, and the weeks leading up to the trip, everyone bragged about how awesome their meals were going to be. I was talking about the weekend later with Ben and he said, “It was great to see what everyone brings to the table,” and he really meant it literally. I love that when we are called to serve one another, we step up our game and go ham (ok, no more food puns from hereon out).

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4. “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that new world is born.” – Anais Nin

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5. I have been thinking about ceremonies and traditions a lot, and how many times you have to do something before it becomes a tradition. Everything grows differently, and at this age, I will never have expectations for things to stay stagnant for very long, but tradition is what eases comings and goings. It’s what makes leaving heartbreaking and what makes returning look like open arms. I haven’t been with these friends for very long, but already, there are patterns that make me feel comforted – the way we play the good kind of games; the way certain things are always done in communion, and the way that our traditions tend to be invitational. I hope these are things that always stay important.

Amsterdam

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1. I took my first real solo trip to Amsterdam over the weekend, and it was frustrating, but I also think it was a necessary and important experience for me to have. My luggage didn’t make it with me on the plane, so I had to go a few days with only the things I had in my backpack. I could only buy the bare necessities, because my credit card wasn’t working and I left a majority of my cash in my luggage (super smart, I know), so it was a very minimalistic weekend. Regardless, it was good for me to be alone for a few days. I could take everything in at my own pace. I could process everything on my own time. I’m a lot more emotional when I’m on my own, and I think everyone needs to have the space to feel what they need to feel and stop when they feel overwhelmed. It was annoying dealing with the luggage situation without any help and scary taking on a completely new city without someone by my side, but at the same time, it was also nice to adventure without the pressure of filling time or going to the “must-see” things.

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2. The main reason I chose to come to Amsterdam this particular weekend was so I could see one of my favourite artists, Owen Pallett, perform live. He’s been on the top of my list for the past 4 years, and the show was definitely the highlight of my trip. I couldn’t believe how incredible the venue was. The concert was in a small lounge area at the top of the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ, which is a glass contemporary music space that overlooks the canals of Amsterdam. It was intimate, with couches and hanging lights in the background, and it was probably one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever been in. I was blown away by how Owen Pallett live loops, swooned by the gentleness and dissonance of his violin fingers, and surprised by his dry sarcasm. The night was cosmic and ethereal, and I’ve never cried at a concert before this, but it happened (like I said, I am much more emotional when I am alone, haha).

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3. I was really impressed by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, not because there were a bunch of famous paintings, but because it gave a really a visceral perspective on his life. I love the way he paints as if people were made of earth, the way he compared himself to a monk or a nun in his dedication to art, and the way he believed that hands were the most expressive part of the body. My favourite part of the museum was where you could listen to letters that were written between Vincent and his brother Theo, who was his most trusted confidant. You could tell how much he loved his brother, because he spent time picking his words the same way he mixes his paint colours until they are just right.

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4. The Amsterdam floating flower market is one of the dreamiest places I’ve ever been to. The first thing I saw were these huge pink floral clouds hanging from the ceilings and I couldn’t believe it was real. Everything smells so fresh, and you can buy just about everything flower- and plant-related… including a Grow-Your-Own-Weed starter kit, ha.

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5. I spent most of my time wandering aimlessly through the streets, bridges and canals of the city. Amsterdam is really just a great place to walk through, because every building is so unique, but somehow they all fit together. There are plenty of cafes around to duck into if you’re tired or cold, and I think it’s been the best city I’ve been too aesthetically. You literally can’t go 30 seconds without seeing a bike or something on a bike, which makes everything even cuter, but also more dangerous as a pedestrian, because instead of watching for 2 lanes of car traffic, you have to watch for 4 and sometimes 6, because of the bike lanes and tram lines.

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6. The last thing I did in the city was go to the Anne Frank House. It was an incredibly sombering experience, and there was one video of her best friend talking about her experiences with Anne at Auschwitz that really broke my heart. I liked that at the end of it all, there was hope for better things to come – for healing and for things to be different. My favourite quote I heard was this:

“Her would-haves can be our reality. Her would-haves are our opportunities.”

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7. The first thing the receptionist said to me when I arrived was, “Be careful of the stairs! They’re dutch!” All the stairs were very steep and narrow, and for the most part, they’re like that in all the buildings in Amsterdam. It makes sense, because all the houses are also very tall and narrow. And when I thought about it a bit more, maybe that’s why the Netherlands have the tallest people in the world (the average for a man is 6 ft!). It’s like how fish grow bigger when they are put in bigger bowls, so I guess this might be true for humans too (but don’t ask me to back up my theory with scientific facts, haha). Maybe if I stayed there a little longer, I would grow taller as well.

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