Saturday, 6 December 2014

TWO YEARS LATER

This is a reflection I had today after interviewing future exchange students! Really it's just a reflection on life, the universe, and everything (42 - haha). Anyways, enjoy. 

There is something about walking into the same room two years later.

I face the hotel, stone hunching into ground waiting for ocean and rain; I have not been here for a long time and so I evanesce into the sidewalk. Filled with coastal nostalgia and battered by the currents of wave and water, I am a sigh let out quietly. This feeling is visceral. I find my feet-footwork, make sure to smile, but then I remember there is no need to be nervous, there is no interview, test, handshake and “hello, how are you?” today. 

By some strange metamorphosis I am no longer the responder, but the curious question giver, what would you do if?, and that’s the funny thing, life is full of ifs. I’ve been home for four months now and I still discover new things about myself every day, what if? Standing at the foot of a mile-stone//stepping-stone I was taken back in time to a different certainty -

I remember that I was nervous, shrinking into a larger version of myself, I was growing and contracting simultaneously. Full of aspirations, fears, and something like hesitancy, I was imbued with the gentle oscillations of doubt and wonderment, like cresting waves upon the ocean I sunk, floated, and flew.

Life is a collection of moments and questions; I remember the place where something like a journey of growing up happened - and at some split second in time I was no longer a kid. What if? Coming back to that place, but as a different person I was awash with the strangeness of cohabiting the same place in different times - but isn’t that what life is? Experiencing places and people over and over again until those places and people live in one’s limbs at all times - I am those places and people. 

I read somewhere that we are fixed. That is, our personalities are. I am trickling into that future version of myself - even though people sometimes tell me that, at heart, I’m eighty. And grandiose gestures of sagacity, like wandering a city in the rain (excuse my cliche), remind me that I am young, ready to be imbued with the wisdom of those who have wandered their fair share of simple streets, complex journeys. And in these ambling days of remembrance, I feel a part of the journey, of the sidewalk//streetlamp.


There is something about walking into the same room two years later.  

Saturday, 30 August 2014

HOME IS AN ISLAND ADRIFT

(Originally written August 8th)

Edited subsequently.



There are times when the story is too big. When the life of the story consumes the words and the author is left silent, struck by a case of ineffability. This is a scary state for someone used to words wanting to play upon tongues and fingertips waiting to dazzle and confound. I still do not really know what to say. What to tell. And saying that is a relief.


I like to sit in kitchens. Words flow better surrounded by hot tea and coffee and distant chatter, a dog lying at my feet, a small mess on our table. I have learned that messes are better than (emptiness) because they speak intimately of life, of vulnerability, and of the courage to say “I am scrambled and scattered and chaotic”. Somedays you want to embrace the mess.




It was a long while ago that I arrived in Sweden. I am decidedly unsure whether or not I am the same person after a year. My hair is longer, my makeup more forgotten, and my small talk less -cold-, but how do I measure the effect of a year on a once-upon-a-time-16 year old girl who was//is not sure where she fits into life? Who is not sure if she should be a puzzle piece or a star floating somewhere out in the universe... 12 months, and there are other ways to measure time: 100s of words learnt and learnt and spoken in a hapless search for chemistry//connection, 1000s of photos clicliclickclickclicked and I hope they were not blurry because that might obscure the ((moment)), 1 000 000s of conversations in kitchens, cafes, busses, and hotel rooms with words, smiles, tears, hugs - the noise and the quiet both. 12 months with too many hellos to count and too many goodbyes to understand.


I left Sweden after 359 days in a moment of delusion or hope because by the end I was not sad. I think I realized that after so many goodbyes said the future was obligated to bring me back to the same place, if a different time. That if so many goodbyes could be given by a single person, there must be an abundance of hellos just waiting to be spoken; the universe likes balance I have learnt. But I still have not grasped that I cannot expect the same people at our next meeting and that I cannot expect myself to remain unchanged either. The hard part about leaving is still sinking in - that no one can wait for me anymore and that I cannot promise to wait for anyone either. I guess that is (something like) growing up. I guess adulthood is not as exciting as my 8 year old self thought it would be. But I would not exchange any of my memories for my long-ago-childhood because life has become about more than just me and I think I like it that way.


I have been home two weeks and a day now. I would like to tell you what that feels like, I really would, but honestly I do not know because I am still stuck processing what happened a few months ago. So for now everything is just normal.


But I can tell you something; sometimes I think in themes. I have chosen a theme for the year: conversations. It is where I have learnt the most. At its basest, an attempt at showing you the person I am and in return attempting to understand who you are. And I have gotten to know quite a few people this way. Sitting in kitchens has been the ...echo of my pastime for conversations... for some reason people feel at home surrounded by sweet aromas and simple pleasures (at a kitchen table).


And if my year were a thing then it would be a kitchen, or a train station, or an airport. They are all crossroads. They are all places where I have learnt about myself and about others.   


And if my year were a word it might be berättelse - story. See, I want to tell you a story of sorts. This story is not like any other. It is a story composed of (threadbare) moments - my many trips down memory lane creating holes and tears in this carpet of remembrances. The thread tying this story together is neither plot nor fairy tale ending, it is just a person, and that person is me.


I guess I should tell you about the day I arrived in Sweden; I was crying a little at the airport, overwhelmed, overtired, and unsure but hugs greeted me and the warmth stayed within me. But I forgot to tell you about the day I left Canada... There were also some tears. And a    journey/wave/ocean/   necklace handmade by an always journeying father was hard not to cry at. A beautiful journal from a mother I have always thought to be beautiful did not help either. I cried leaving Canada and cried   -slightly-   arriving in Sweden.


This year was also a year of inheriting family. The adoption only temporary but the new families real. 

My first host family taught me so much. Between bridge lessons from my older host brother and host grandfather, learning to ski from my host mormor och morfar, host mamma, host pappa, and younger host brother, learning to knit from my host farmor, and learning a new language from everyone around I was constantly in school but a school that I truly loved.  


The road to my second family was long but to arrive in the countryside among quaint houses was worth the wait. It did not take long for this new house to become another home full of warmth and new words like ödemjuk - humble, learnt over sunday brunches. And I gained so many perfect moments from this family - lovely in composition.


Throughout these months travel was also a constant. Visits to France, Norway, and Copenhagen were always lovely. In April a visit to the arctic circle took place. And I guess I never considered how some places can appear infinite. I guess I was surprised by the landscape of uninterrupted snow reaching out into the distance. Could you follow it? Where would you end up? Why does snow, something so cold, create a warmth and a craving for closeness? And I met people from all over the world there - other exchange students who I would get to know in the future months. But the highlight of that trip was the unending snow which sparked so many flames full of burning thoughts. Who knew that snow would make me ponder my year, my life?


However, I hope I am not giving you the impression that this year was easy, there were some hard moments too. There were some, ‘what am i doing here’s and some ‘who am i’s wondered... but night time always seemed to soothe those worries.


I will not lie, sometimes I worry too much; sometimes I like to create confusion and befuddlement by overcomplicating matters of simplicity in my mind. It is not often that I am without thought of some sort (although the intelligence of those thoughts is undecided). But there was an evening where days had begun to lengthen and sunlight seemed to alight on bus stops and brown haired girls where I remember so vividly understanding (intuitively) that I was no longer in Canada, or my wild BC. That I was in Sweden. That I was home in Göteborg. That evening was one of the biggest concerts in all of Sweden with music sung and played by Göteborg-ers - känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg: Håkan Hellström, my favourite song. I was so lucky to be there listening to the music of my city.


Furthermore, this concert was right before another departure of sorts. I was embarking upon a trip across Europe: 9 countries, 68 exchange students, 4 chaperones, 1 guide, 1 bus driver, 1 bus. And I cannot tell you my favourite country, or my favourite day, but I can tell you that it was an interesting trip, and that I have many stories - some to tell, some which I will save for another day.


A Journal Entry on the Road to Poland, Departing Berlin, June 26th


The Toothpick Forest


The trees here aren’t very tall, but they have beautiful composition. Forests of warm brown bark leading into small clumps of green. As if walking through a forest of toothpicks - thin and elegant. This forest interacts with the sun and soft grass, a slight pink almost. Moving straight out of the earth, causing shadow and light in tree trunk’s existence, causing empty space in their subtraction. Reminding me of Emily Carr’s dancing forests, I could get lost for a day in a German forest if only to see the composition of my body - a light brown from sunlight - in amongst branches. I would see my body break up light, allow shadows - let my eyes find blue, blue sky and wire electricity lines echoing a city passed long ago on this road. A built symmetrical beauty, Germany was a city akin to forest, not because of a green-possessing-earth-and-sky-landscape but because, if you look, you find streets like these waif like tree trunks with roots so deep you see no end. You find bowed down collections of leaves and greenery, not quite reaching the sky. Germany was built and rebuilt through different years, walking through its streets you see with different eyes.
the slow (gentle) rocking of the bus is soothing and through toothpick tree trunks lies thick foliage and a deeper forest, partially hidden from sight.
we walked alongside the wall and I tried to imagine - the roots, cobblestones, and bricks of this concrete forest, this concrete city. But sometimes its hard to find roots even if you search through a forest of imaginary walls while the toothpicks blur //into//the//wall//
we sat on a wall last night watching lights making figurines upon still water - there are faces to see in this city.
we explored outskirts and buildings hiding sky - as Berlin became a reality toothpick trunks gave way to houses leaving echoes of their former existence
you can find footsteps in the architecture here
something like a juxtaposition of dreary brown and warm gold, a façade of white and beige leaving remnants - blending new and old.
words were once important here, vital. Imprintations upon cranial doubt until a sort of misguided altruism was created
words are like - toothpick treetops and willow branches, waif like memories and thick stone reminders words are like
“I could get lost in a toothpick forest.”



Budapest, beautiful and there was a day where we found a bathing house. Its yellow exterior cheery, its people strutting in bikinis, speedos, one pieces, shorts, and I was ecstatic. Jumping through water and feeling like the greek philosopher I always secretly wished to be, it was like being transported to ancient Greece. The Szechenyi Baths are certainly a must see.


Austria, rolling hills and peace, no more words needed.


Italy, where wonderful conversations were had in the Mediterranean ocean.


And France, where I fell in love with a city.


Paris was truly something. We wandered the streets at night to Sacre-Coeur in small groups eating crêpes... we explored rooftops overlooking the Eiffel Tower where words were not always articulated, sometimes words were not needed to express what we were feeling. Paris was the beginning of a goodbye.


We said goodbye to some exchange students in Germany. We said goodbye to more in Sweden. And after 19 days on a bus with 68 people, I arrived home for 11 days to Göteborg, and then I arrived home once again to Victoria.


and then home is hard to understand


11 days and home was on my mind everyday. And honestly it might have been easier to have gone home right away because I was not sure how to feel about anything those 11 days. And many of my friends were homehome in their countries. And I guess I felt a little left behind. One of my final days I was walking through the city before my bus would arrive and it was just as the sun was setting. You could see this massive fireball shining out through the corner of the opera house, making patterns of moonbeams on the city walls and windows. I looked out at the city’s iconic cranes, bathed in a golden light, water rippling ever so slightly, and all I felt was.... I wish I had more days. That evening was beautiful.


Evenings never last and mornings follow after - my last morning - I was not crying as much as I thought I would. Just silently looking out the car window at the life I had built over a year, trying to take photos in my mind, and wondering when I would be back. My host families took me to the airport. And when I showed the woman at the till my ticket, she was astonished with my number of flights (4) and appeared rather flustered. It was almost comical. Then it was time to say goodbye. But first we took a couple of photos (they are zoomed out enough not to see the tears gracing my cheeks). And then came the tidal wave, the crash, the undercurrent, the OCEAN of hugs.
Then I left.
As simple as that.
I thought it would be harder.
I thought it would be easier.

I told you already that the universe likes balance, well somehow I was balanced as I left. Or maybe -balanced- is the wrong word - I was -in between-. Caught in strong currents pulling one way...caught in strong currents pushing the other way.
And there is so much to say about that departure but the words “I left” seem to encapsulate it so completely that I am not sure what else there is to say.

And at some point hours later, I arrived. To signs, family and friends, and a crushwavecrash of hugs. Now time has sped by and it has been over two weeks since I came home. So far it is all strangely normal.





There are times when you are not sure what story to tell, and that is when you have to wait patiently for the words to come bursting out in whatever language. This story has been bubbling, burbling, and coagulating inside of me, forming rivulets, oceans, and raindrops fading into islands, islands, and islands of text just waiting to be born.


I spent the first 16 years of my life growing up on an island surrounded by islands. I spent last year living in a country composed of islands. A country lying across a vast ocean from where I was born. And the interaction of        water and land - movement and mass         speaks to me. Restlessness and waves will come and go, ebbing and flowing upon islands where houses and childhoods grow... home may no longer exist in one place, so home will forever be an island surrounded by the ocean of those moments and conversations I will always remember.


Home is an island adrift.







Tuesday, 15 July 2014

IMPRESSIONS OF PARIS

I love looking out over a city and knowing that in between every light and every shadow there lies a story. I love getting lost in a maze of past and future history.
This city is different colours at different times.
city//painted in purple glass
city//smouldering orange, whispering pink
this city in shades of blue at 6 in the morning

i could wander streets leading to the eiffel tower, arc de triomphe, notre dame, for days, could wander this postcard collection of slightly weathered houses and homes.
spontaneity and i could thrive together in this city.
shadows and light coexisting.
(in this      )

I love looking over a city and seeing the overlap of different lives.
These streets where my esoteric aspirations lead me,
and I like the 
ineffable 
quality here.

look at the sky (6am sunrise hidden by fog)
never quite blue, never quite pink - dichotomous in its colour scheme.
dirty and pristine, old and new
and sometimes i love the dirt over the ((   emptiness  )) 
i would cry and laugh here
shadows and light coexisting here

i love finding myself in this city, as the gentle dawn of dusk has faded into a beautiful sky








Saturday, 29 March 2014

PHOTO UPDATE

It's been absolutely gorgeous weather lately!! Went out to an island nearby where my host mom and her relatives have a summer cabin... here are some photos.

Enjoy!





















Friday, 14 March 2014

MOMENTS - A PORTRAIT

I woke up late today. I woke up in a bubble of blanket and sun. And after a breakfast of fruit, tea, music, and silence I left for school.
Keys jangling in pocket, scarf awaiting a blustery, pervading wind, and my eyes roaming the line of photographs along the entrance wall - there was one which brought me back.

That day was a not-enough-sleep good mood and irritation swirling-in-sunshine-sweeping day. I was tired. And we packed up the ritual fika, the dog, the blankets, as well as our scarves and gloves. We were headed to the ocean. And I think I fell asleep on the car ride there. The wind was a rising tide and the ocean just a gentle breeze - the island thriving with the music of water,         salt air.
We wandered the mostly empty island.
The absence of voices was beautiful.

The type of beauty you feel wandering sunday morning city streets after late night kisses 
  -  you feel the emptiness
     you feel the life
The walk led us through tawny coloured forests and craggy cliffs overlooking a continuous horizon. And photos among bark and tree speckled sunlight would serve as reminders. Those moments of light-speckled-laughter broke through the drowsiness of a saturday afternoon and you realize that -we-        live for the moments, these moments of continuality and grace. The moments that make - who we are and who we once were - one and the same.
That picture from that earth coloured grove was graceful - in its art of subtle announcement and silent happiness. 
and after leaving the front door, walking past the front fence
I can tell you I was smiling the rest of the day. 

Moments - A Portrait
















Tuesday, 4 March 2014

MY EXPERIENCE WITH SWEDISH GYMS

(Note: this is most definitely a slight hyperbole for humorous reasons as I actually quite enjoy exercise)

An hour in a Swedish gym.

A group of us are waiting outside the doors, peeking in the sterile windows, and chancing surreptitious glances at each other in our ready-to-work-out clothing hiding neither lumps nor bumps. We are waiting for the clock to tick tock and time to meet our bubbly leader of the day. Like turtles we creep into the room and crowd around the point of least danger - the back - where no one will. see. us. sweat. The music is turned on and the instructor - blond hair flung into pigtails, headband slung under curvy bangs, and a beaming smile of health (making me want to curl up and never do another single squat jump again) trying to entice us into the fun of exercise. The man to my left is grey and balding but seems to possess the energy and vigour I am supposed to have as a youth in the prime of health. The older ladies have crammed themselves into too tight gym shorts and youthful pigtails while the preteens smile gaily and admire their slim silhouettes in the mirror. We are now lifting our legs, back straight, slowly bending forward and extending one leg behind us - I am supposed to look something akin to a swan but the reality of this (in)delicate manoeuvre becomes something more of an uncoordinated elephant - that is too say not graceful. Then, as I'm trying to follow the jump back and forth steps of our 40 year old peppy cheerleader (while being totally out of time) she begins winking at me and I can't help but smile - and attempt to control a lung bursting giggle. And, as the time passes surprisingly quickly, I realize I am enjoying myself, and I realize that humans are absolutely ridiculous. Gut burstingly preposterous, queer, and ludicrous - yet always so keen to live and strive and move forward.

I am surveying the crowd and mentally making bestial comparisons so much that amazingly, with an aching 6 pack (I wish) the hour rushes by and we are into the stretches. I look at the mirror and examine my leg reaching out and my shoulders pulling back, core pushing out, and think that, maybe, maybe I should be doing this more often - coming to the watering hole of healthy eaters and voracious joggers.  Leaving, the relaxation of feeling finished and sipping upon my refreshing water encourages this sentiment further but then the immediate draw to the computer to write this - as if a foreign creature exploring the facetious nature of a new benign species - discourages my possible life as a peppy, athletic, sumo-squat doing person and reminds me of my preference for the moments of sheer, soulful expression with colours, and words, music, paintbrushes, photos and brushstrokes.

But I realize, that I have a shy appreciation for the peppy and the bubbly and the bouncy of this world and that sometimes I wish I could squat as committedly as all these other animals without letting the giggles escape bubblingly from my mouth.

An hour in a Swedish gym.


SOME FAVOURITE SWEDISH SONGS

Here are a couple songs in Swedish (I like) to check out!