On the way here, we flew down smooth streets lined with explosions. Vancouver’s nature responds to the grey pall of autumn with defiance, in flecks of impossibly bright yellows, burnt oranges and reds. This is all visible from the glass case where I presently write. But contrary to the shape of my confines, I view the outside world as an aquarium, replete with tiny trees and ocean stretching from Lions Gate Bridge to the university peninsula.
This neighbourhood is an especially watery one, quietly perched on the edge of the Pacific. When I was 18, my first home away from home was sleepy, collegiate Claremont, nicknamed “the town of trees and PhDs”. Then two years in Japan: self-segregated for centuries, it remains something of a political and cultural hideaway. Cambridge was perhaps the most cloistered, intellectual bubble of all, each building revealing layers of history and tradition.
Sometimes I think my life has consisted of moving from one bubble to another. Other times I am more charitable to myself, and think all my traveling has been a subconscious attempt to puncture those bubbles. I exercise my senses to absorb the stories of others. Eventually reception shifts to creation, the impulse to reciprocate. Filled to the brim with stimuli, I like to retreat to a secluded place where I can slowly spill everything into writing, drawings, photo books, calligraphy, poetry… Even my recent Masters thesis was a version of this process; the interviews and questionnaires retrieved from Japan seemed unknowable in my dormitory, and I sought out quiet cafes above street level to make sense of it all. I am now convinced that space alters the mind just as much, if not more than time. And when it comes to the spaces I occupy I desire both chaos and calm, but selfishly I want that endless, back-and-forth cycle to end with the latter.
As I’ve been typing this, I’ve often paused to gaze at my loving parents, sprawled on the couch watching TV. Early evening, the sky has darkened and the bridge sparkles with the lights of the distant city. Soon I will retire to a warm, wide bed – wider than I’ve had in seven years of single dorms and apartments. After I sleep in tomorrow morning, I will make a smoothie in a well-equipped, full-sized kitchen, and we will sit with our breakfast, overlooking the land. An abundance of luxuries. For a while I resisted returning to life here, because I associated solitary movement with greater opportunity and responsibility. But in this moment, home feels just right; just what I need to reclaim creative parts of me which were lost in the shuffle.
For as long as I live, whatever homes I make and choose for myself, please let me hold onto bubbles – just enough to process my experiences, soothe my emotions in water, and send you loving missives from inside.
Disclaimer: the house in the photo is not mine, it’s just the trick of the light that moved me to take it 🙂