transit

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Shoes on, jacket zipped, step-step-step down the stairs and turn right. Suddenly, I realize I’m in the street. Sunlight reflecting off chlorophyll-depleted leaves. They diffuse the light somehow, those leaves. They are translucent and the light reaches me; nourishes. Gaze back down to my feet. Step-step-step. Through construction, cursing the cold, across the street just in time. Doors open right in front of me. I step-step. Tap. I’m in. It’s warm. There’s a place to sit. I jostle and heave near other bodies as we move forward. Together.

Slowing down again. Don’t get up yet. Abrupt stop. Okay, now. Doors woosh open and we move forward, a bunch of us this time. All moving to the same place like we’re travelling together. Like we know what we had for breakfast this morning. Like we know the unconscious thoughts that randomly pop into each other’s minds: the floor plan of a house I used to live in, the words of a classmate in grade one, how much I like the taste of cardamom. But this landscape cannot be shared. This fabric of thought is immutably solitary, set apart. We’re separating now. I walk fast, I move ahead of the pack with their thoughts, an entire continent between us, an entire world, an entire life.

 Tap. The turnstile unlocks, briefly. I push through, up the escalator. Others standing like statues on the right, gliding upward. I follow those in movement on the left. Push past bags and elbows. Move this body through space and time. Open doors. Hurried steps. That adrenaline rush of making it just before the doors close behind me. Moving, sitting, waiting. Walking in lines, finding my way, settling back into ground level, getting my bearings. This way is North. This way is to the next bus stop. This way. I keep moving.

Eva lent me her Compass card. She drives to UBC, so I’ve got use of this card that gets me on public transit here in Vancouver. I’ve taken buses, the skytrain, and even the sea-bus. All with a tap of a card. One day I mistook the name of the station I was supposed to get off at for the station name at the end of the line. I accidentally rode the entire length. Good thing I wasn’t in a hurry.

I have access to a giant swath of land I otherwise could not reach simply through this plastic card. I can’t walk that far in a day. I can’t swim across the Vancouver Harbour. All this movement turns this space around me into something that is knowable. A path I can experience, a tea cup I can drink, a tarot reading I can do with a friend. The experience is inextricably linked with the place. Being on the move exposes me to things I otherwise wouldn’t be.

Some days I stay home — at Eva’s, this grace of a landing place I’ve been given. Don’t always go out, yet can go endless places in the possibilities of my mind and my future. Mulling, scheming, manifesting, and planning. It’s exhausting, following the track of all these options and being pulled in the directions they lead. I keep moving. I keep moving.

Out the doors now. High in the sky. Take the empty, frozen escalator down. The groves of each motionless step interweave. My vision blurs them together. Move, don’t think. Step-step-step. My rhythm, my focus, my flow. Rain tonight. Zip up the jacket, pull over the hood. My body pulls me under the shelter of canopies, my legs keep moving. Keep moving. Car lights illumine momentary lines of water. Pools on pavement. Six more blocks. Five more blocks. I look back at the bus coming from behind. I stop beneath an overhang. Then through the open doors. Tap. I don’t sit. In the warmth of this space, I know I am getting off soon. Hang on. Adjust weight. Doors open. I step out onto wet leaves. I walk under trees. Keep moving. I keep moving.

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This is what it’s like

2018-10-14 09.22.26when you get denied entry at the border and they take you into one of those little rooms, the ones you’ve heard so much about where terrible things happen to people like how small children are separated from their parents and there’s a cot in one and it makes you feel even more sad and you are left waiting and you have no idea what’s happening and you know when your next flight was supposed to board but you don’t have a clock so you don’t know what’s happening and why isn’t anyone telling you what’s happening and you make your statements under oath, but you wonder what does ‘being under oath’ even mean in this country anymore and there are moments when your mind and imagination get carried away but then you bring it back on track, back to the mantra, which, let’s be honest, has been running through your head all day anyway and especially when you got ‘pulled aside’ and you’re so grateful that you’ve put in years, I’m talking years, of daily practice and effort into training your mind and imagination so that you can watch your thoughts and see where each will take you and decide which you want to follow and what you’d like to create in the endless landscape of your inner being instead of letting them run the show and you wonder why the officer needed to press her nails into your cuticles so hard that it nearly broke the skin when she took your fingerprints, and oh god now they have your fingerprints, and there’s a moment when you’re resting your head on the table – the table that’s in the room that you’re still in, waiting, even though she said you could go to the waiting room because there’s a TV in there but why would you want to be in a room with a TV when you can be in a space with your own self and your stress response is to want to fall asleep and there’s this moment where you suddenly feel entirely and completely alone and it’s such a full and complete notion and you know that this is a little snippet of what people feel who are experiencing true suffering and you feel like you are forsaken and there’s, at first, a rush of panic, because it’s enormous to be so utterly alone like that and you understand that this makes people who don’t know themselves extremely uncomfortable and then suddenly there’s peace. There’s stillness. And you’re in The Big Room, which is that room that you go to when you meditate sometimes. But it’s not really a place you can go, it’s like a placeless experience that happens to you. And then you have this notion you’ve never had that’s not really like inviting God in, but more like God is inviting you in. And you sit there with God in The Big Room in this little room amidst this stress and endless waiting and your heart is just buzzing and the officer comes back to tell you, after she’s finally told you that you can’t come into the country, that your flight back leaves in one hour or two hours and then you overhear that it’s actually in four hours and so you somehow relax a bit because now at least you know what’s happening next and then you ask to make sure the people expecting you know you’re not coming and you’re allowed to use the phone on speaker phone at the front desk and you hear his voice and immediately burst into tears, tears that have been hiding at the edges of your eyes but not yet falling out, and you talk and then you know you need to rest and so you go to the padded bench in the bathroom and your mind whirls and whirls and whirls and then you want to ask more questions and get more information and so you talk to other officers and they’re like actual humans and they listen and they understand and they tell you no, you don’t need to go to an embassy and they give you advice on what to do next, because you know and they know you’ve done nothing wrong and then you feel so much better having had a conversation with someone who understands and your back is so tense it’s causing menstrual-like cramps and you think how that’s certainly an odd thing to happen in a time of duress, apparently that’s a thing now? and eventually the guards come to take you to your flight back and you have to force yourself to not burst out laughing at the hilarity of two armed guards escorting you to the gate and someone asks jocularly if they’re just here watching TV and you say “They’re with me” at the same time one says “We’re with her” and you say “Hashtag I’m with her” and you think that’s pretty clever but no one laughs and you get on your flight and you rest and, as you complete the descent, the flight attendant says that it’s 11:22 and thanks for flying Delta on behalf of their crew based in Phoenix. And then you land. And then you try again the next day. And you bring the documentation that shows you’re doing nothing wrong. And then you get denied again. And then you are bereft.

Learning to change. Changing to learn.

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“I’m sad you’re leaving.” It was Genny who said it. She’d just found out that I wouldn’t be working with her at the grocery store for much longer. “You’re so nice.” She added, in explanation.

I thanked her, in the way I’ve learned to accept compliments from people — because, let me tell you, it’s something one has to learn — and smiled. Leaving is something I know. Leaving is something I do often.

For all my good intentions of staying put in one place, I’ve decided to take the opportunity to go back to Hawaii. I’ve decided to leave where I am. Again.

England wasn’t working for me. I went into the situation thinking that I would get a job in my field — communications, writing, editing — and a flat and a cat and friends and a life. I knew it wouldn’t just fall into my lap (well, expect maybe the cat). I knew it would be hard, that I would have to work at it. But I didn’t expect to realize that I didn’t actually want it. I certainly didn’t want it in England.

England is cold and I’m the person who goes to the Southern Hemisphere at the first signs of autumn frost. England colonized much of the world and has a history of aggressive expansion embedded in its DNA. England “voted” to separate from the European Union and assert its independence. England has been undergoing a political policy of austerity for a number of years, resulting in disenfranchised populations and cut-back social programs.

England was not the place for me.

So I thought I’d move to Victoria. “This is really it,” I’d tell people. I’ve tried to move to Victoria a couple of times. “I’m going to move there and get a job in my field.” I was so resolute. So sure of myself. That alone should have tipped me off.

I’d started applying for jobs before I left England, even though I knew I’d be taking some time travelling with family and wouldn’t really be able to start anything until September. Things, as they tend to, changed. And I’ve always been a woman of change.

Change is hard. Sometimes. Humans astound me as being one of the most adaptable species on the planet, yet also so resistant to change. Our behaviours become engrained and markers to change them are forgotten. It’s a brain thing as much as it is a mind thing. As synapses become accustomed to firing, deep neural pathways are created in our brains.

I’ve read enough books about the brain through my lifelong experience of depression to know how negative thoughts can affect our brains. We get into patterns and it’s hard to get out of them. Like literally pulling ourselves out of deep ditches we’ve dug with simply our own thoughts.

That’s one reason why learning is so integral to brain health. It supports the creation of new neural pathways, thereby sending life energy to parts of the brain that may have been neglected.

But damn, learning is hard. First, I’ve got to admit that I don’t know something. Then I’ve got the step aside and allow for new information to make it through my sense perceptions. Then, even though it’s all new and possibly confusing, I’ve got to implement it again and again until I understand it and can utilize this new information when I’ve discriminated it’s appropriate.

So this is the first step: I don’t know how to come up with scintillating stories that editors want to publish (and that they want me to write). I just don’t know.

I got a second compliment at work today. A customer came through with a black shirt that read The summer of Isaac. “Is your name Isaac?” I asked.

“Oh, the shirt! No, Isaac was one of my employees and another employee made these shirts for his going-away party. No one’s ever asked me that in the ten years I’ve had this shirt. You must have a curious mind.”

I smiled and said how I do and I accepted the compliment in the way that I’ve learned to accept compliments.

Things is, I’m curious about everything. I research and over research and put things together and know way more about way too many things than makes any sense. But what can I say, I’m curious.

It’s a fabulous trait to have. The only problem is that it makes it somewhat challenging to know what others will be interested in. Just because I’m interested in everything doesn’t mean that people will want to take time out of their days to lap up all the information that I would.

And so I have a learning curve when it comes to knowing what stories to pitch. If I follow my own timeline for learning up there, I know that I have to let go of what I know so that new information can come forward. I have to step outside of my comfort zone and integrate the information that is all around me telling me what people are interested in reading about. And then I need to practice it. Just like I need to practice the actual writing.

My love of change intersects well with how learning is such a require trait in life. Change is a fabulous thing. It’s a value I’ve built my life around.

I’m leaving Victoria next week. I thought I needed a shift and I thought that it was supposed to look a certain way: namely, staying put in one single place. But that’s simply not who I am. I do need a shift, though. I need to use my skills and contribute to this world and learn about what stories others also find interesting. But I can’t stay in one place. Because I am a woman of change.