My freshly washed long ash-blonde hair reflects back at me as I watch my face in my favorite pine-framed mirror. I’ve had that mirror since I first moved out on my own, years ago, a vivacious young girl who was ready to take on the entire world. Brush the back parts. Brush the front parts. I once heard that you should brush your hair a 100 times each day so that the oils are distributed evenly from the tips to the ends. Brush the inside. Brush the outside. Brush the front parts. I wonder what it would be like if I brushed my bangs towards my nose. Brush. Brush, part to the right side. Then I part it to the left side.
In that moment, I recognize a little girl who once had flowing sunshine hair, who had such vigor and zest for life, that if you plugged her into a power grid, she’d light up every bulb in every house of Vancouver. The little girl who, no matter what obstacle or craziness that life threw her way, had a way of always seeing tomorrow, always knowing that things would work out. Her childhood journal entries would always end with, “Here’s hoping tomorrow’s a better day”.
Then, I feel him. There’s a warmth that enters the room – if I could see him, he would be standing right behind me, just so that I could see him in the corner of the mirror. His presence and the comfort of him being there hits me like a brick wall – I realize just how much I miss him. The tears start to flow and, like the little girl who is lost, scared, and alone – I realize just how alone I am without him. I speak clearly to him, inbetween the sobs of grief. He wants me to carry on, wants me to be strong and fearless and keep pushing forward. He is quiet and calm in his presence, knowing that this is my journey and my lesson, and my time to grow. My skin hurts so much from all this growth. A new skin, a new body, a new mind – so much to regenerate.
It is time. All my life, I have wanted to move, and now it is time. I look at the boxes, half packed, waiting for my command to close them. I am leaving everything I have built here, all my community and what I am familiar with, and leaving this comfort for something that has always haunted me in its calling.
New York has always been a great lover over the years, but will it want me as a long term partner? We soon start a new phase in our relationship, where I hope to discover that my affair with this city is more than just a ten-year fling, with one lover promising to always leave the stagnant relationship they are currently in, to be with the promises of richness and depth that the other affair brings.
I have always promised my lover that I would leave my beloved Pacific ocean for the darkness and edge of the Atlantic. I have always spoken the truth in my love for him, and that if I left my ocean, would his have me? I’m moving in. Will our relationship stand the test of time? Will he grow tired of my quirks? How I squeeze the toothpaste tube before each brush? How my blonde hair turns blonder in the summertime and darker in the fall? Will he love me for who I am? He has always promised to.
There’s only one way to find out – and that’s by simply doing it. It’s not courage, or fearlessness, but rather, a deep madness that drives me away from the warm winters and comfortable solitude I enjoy here – in fact, as adventurous as I am, I also have moments of honest fear – what lay beyond the grey fog of music and adventure when one embarks on such a change?
You see, I know myself well enough to know that I never look back. This is my fear. They say you can never come home. But I believe it’s simply that you don’t ever come home, because home is something you always take with you and build wherever you are. That is the gypsy and the adventurer in me speaking.
This breakup with the West Coast has been a long time in the making. Don’t get me wrong – I will always love her. She has nurtured and loved me, she has caressed me like no lover could. She has inpsired my music with her winds and with her ocean. But she has also been a stagnant and superficial lover at times, taunting me with her promises of longevity – with every drink of every wave, she would promise more fortune and adventure – only to be a longwinded statement that would bear no fruit. Her youth shows her to be uncultivated at times and her maturity at times too much like a pubescent teenager.
Now, of course, her mother, and her mother’s mother - well, those are the ancient spirits that I will truly miss. I will miss the winter winds, the tallest trees, the dance of my eagles, the way the stars sit in this sky. I will miss the whispers of the arbutus trees, and the wisdom of the people that have survived her. I will miss the little parts of Asia that I have come to revere as my own, and the tribes that I have come to know here – I will be meeting and learning of new ones, for sure. But I gain comfort in knowing that we will share the moon and a common thread of water, as I move forward in my journey towards the Atlantic.
And then I think of my father again. How he must have felt when he left his homeland for the first time, on a cattle train, uncertain of where he would be taken. Uncertain whether or not he would ever see his home or family again. And then, when he escaped the camps for good, how much pain he must have felt to leave his homeland for South Africa, then England, and then finally, Canada. How he dealt with the fear of starting over again – truly starting over again. New culture, new language, and of course, to be the “German” during an era where being even remotely connected to that culture was a mark of the Devil himself. How could my father have picked up and left it all, to finally end up as far away as Vancouver, to start all over again?
I realize how silly I must seem to him right now. Here, his little girl, finally ready to move away for good, finally has every opportunity to do so, but she is momentarily stopped in her mirror because she knows that one of her only ties to her father is the West Coast. By leaving here, I am also leaving behind the last memories I have of him and of being with him. And I don’t want to lose those memories. And then I cry some more. But I know that at least now he can travel with me everywhere I go and I have no reason to fear the unknown. After a few obligatory tissues, I brush my hair one more time, leaving my bangs to fall where they may. -