Outbox: December 20–24

December 20, 2014

You know that feeling when, after waking up in the morning in a bed that isn’t your own, it takes you a few seconds to remember exactly where you are?

That doesn’t happen to me when I’m in Vancouver. When I wake up on the west coast, I know exactly where I am from my first breath. There is something wonderful about the crispness of the air, even indoors, on this side of Canada. It is perhaps the confluence of ocean and mountains in one small slice of the country, or perhaps it is something else; whatever it is, even blindfolded I would be able to know when I am on the coast of the Pacific, for the air fills my lungs in a way that constantly feels refreshing and rejuvenating.

It has rained all day here, today, and that’s okay.

Today, we have seen friends, we have seen family. We have eaten, as we always do, delicious food. We have eaten shortbread cookies while Pedro the lovebird sat on our shoulders. We have run from houses to cars to buildings, hoping to stay dry as the rain fell steadily, heavily.

It is raining now, late in the night, as I type this. I can hear the rain pound against the roof above me, and if I look closely through the darkness, I can see the raindrops clinging to the windows, refusing to flow down to the ground.

I take a deep breath of the refreshing air, and close my eyes. The rain is my lullaby as I ready myself for sleep.

December 21, 2014

No rain today, just a heavy, grey fog. It is a mist that hangs over the entire city, but is most pronounced here on the north shore. It is a brouillard that is almost comforting in the way it envelops us all.

We hike through the Capilano Canyon and across the suspension bridge staring up at the sky and staring ahead at the multitude of lights everywhere. There are crowds, yes, but it is almost easy to forget they are there because of how the lights scintillate as the dusk joins the fog to create a veil of darkness in the canyon.

I have often been called a débrouillard because of my knack for figuring things out even in the haziest of situations. Today, there is no need to clear the haze; we embrace the brouillard and let it envelop us as we hear the river thunder through the canyon below.

December 22, 2015

Leave me alone in a city for an afternoon, and I will undoubtedly find myself at the public library. (And the post office, as well, usually.)

I’ve realized, as I’ve grown older, that I like measured solitude. Whereas before, when I was younger, I struggled with time spent on my own, I now find it restorative and calming. The solitude I crave, however, is not some sort of Walden-esque isolation: instead, I crave the aloneness of being in a busy space, a place where there is a hum of activity and the bustle of people, but where I know nobody, and nobody knows me.

The public library is a perfect place for this kind of escape. There are always people buzzing about, but the volume is low, almost muted. It’s possible to spend hours watching people as they read, browse, interact with each other, and possible to spend hours lost in your own head to sort out your own stories and ideas, surrounded by books containing a dizzying amount of stories and ideas.

December 23, 2015

Here’s what they don’t tell you about adulthood: that sometimes, the stuff you found entertaining as a child is exactly what you’ll find entertaining as an adult. That the little joys that come from small diversions, like decorating gingerbread people (and other objects) while wearing an apron and chef’s hat can be the highlight of your day, and that engaging in that activity with friends and family that are more than 25 years younger than you can be the best kind of social interaction.

Here’s what they don’t tell you about adulthood: that even though you grow in size and in responsibility, you don’t necessary have to grow in spirit, all the time. That sometimes you just have to remember what it was like to be a kid again, and not be ashamed when your gingerbread cookie ends up looking more like a monster than a man. It will taste delicious all the same.

It is quiet in this room, mostly because people at the art gallery are taught to be quiet in galleries even though there’s no real reason to be silent. It is also quiet because people are taken aback by the scale of the exhibit, by the hundreds of stools, seemingly strung up and held together by invisible forces, ready to fall at even the lightest of touches.

Like many other pieces of art, it takes your breath away, the first time you see it. It is its breath-taking quality and its seeming precariousness that forces people to be silent, as if any extra respiration will make it all come tumbling down.

I stand the in the middle, stare up, and breathe deeply, loudly. Sometimes, silence is overrated.

December 24, 2015

There are no mosquitoes around Mosquito Creek. Or, perhaps they do live there, but they were not around today.

It was too cold for mosquitoes, but it was the perfect for a walk along the creek, as evidenced by the dozens of humans and dogs that strolled by us along the way. The sun was out, shining brightly in a sky with very few clouds, and the air had a slight chill; not cold enough to warrant a heavy coat or many layers, but enough that we didn’t feel warm or sweaty as we trekked on the path by the creek.

The water rushed by beside us. We walked hand-in-hand for some of the time, and close to each other for the rest. We stopped only to pet the dogs that passed us, to say hello to the other friendly walkers, and to take three photos along the way. The gravel from the path seeped into my shoes, and I didn’t mind.

This is the afternoon of Christmas eve: surrounded by trees and water and sunshine and the woman I love. For this I am thankful. For this I celebrate.

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