Monday, September 19, 2016

beautiful british columbia

I'd heard Vancouver is beautiful. I was also told it's expensive, with one of the best qualities of living; that many of its residents are active; that it's home to an outstanding number of cultures, ethnicities, and languages, as well as a visible socioeconomic divide. But, having only ever been to Montreal and Toronto, I still wasn't quite sure what to expect from Canada's westernmost seaport city.
So let me tell you, it is beautiful—and not just because the clouds hang artfully across the not-so-distant mountains and the air is deliciously fresh and the trees are just beginning to change and the water shines clear and bright in the sun; though I did get exceptionally lucky with the weather. My personal experience in Vancouver was made beautiful by the warmth and generosity of the community I'd flown there to work with; a religious organization that raised ~250k to provide care and opportunity for thousands of people they'll likely never meet who've been placed under inconceivable circumstances. A definitive hell yes for humanity.
And if the festival weren't awe-inspiring enough, I also received a great deal of kindness; like the woman who treated me to gelato after she overheard the cashier apologizing that they didn't accept US debit; or the elderly couple with whom I exchanged stories, who remarked at my "beautiful Spanish last name"; or the bartender who made me feel at ease in her Saturday local bar scene; or the airbnb host who gave me ferry tickets to explore the city by waterway; or the places and friends the darling Gillian directed me to.
I enjoyed my time in Vancouver immensely. There's an incomparable sincerity and calmness to the beauty I came to know there; one that isn't acknowledged enough in the daily grind of our stresses and responsibilities. It feels silly—naive even—to say that I crave this kind of evidence, proof that there's goodness in people and strength in our connection to one another and considerable potential in the impact we can have on the world; and yet, to be perfectly honest, I still do. Forever grateful for this past weekend.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

sunday in temecula

I've lived in the state of California for more than two years. Two. Years. + How did this happen? Why?! The simple answer, of course, is that I took a serendipitous job opportunity and refused to let it be a mistake. The reality is infinitely more complicated than that.
Nevertheless I've come to fully appreciate this place founded by pioneers and dreamers and those who couldn't quite fit into the communities they were born to. L.A. itself is a haphazard assortment of creative ideals. SF is SF. And I might finally be thriving.
I ventured to La Jolla for work in early August—an appropriate memory to recall on a Labor Day weekend, no? I was instantly and unexpectedly charmed by San Diego's wild beauty and laid back reclusion. The event itself ran smoothly. And the day following, driving back with a colleague, I noticed signs for Temecula; a city I recognized from my recreational study of California wine regions. I suggested a tasting. We lounged for hours at Mount Palomar Winery. I was so pleased with my spontaneity and the Golden State.
If life in Los Angeles, CA seems painfully far from the people and things that matter most to me... it is, somewhat. And yet there are phone calls, and plane travel, and weekend visits, and afternoons (like this one) that bring every place I've ever loved within reach.

Friday, August 19, 2016

gritty truths

I'm half-way through All the Light We Cannot See—a dazzling piece of historical fiction by Anthony Doerr; set in WWII-Europe with two protagonists, a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy. I haven't yet gotten to the part at which their stories converge.
As I was reading the other night, I was struck by the tragic familiarity of fear, hate, blame, and cruelty; politicians positing themselves as saviors; thoughtless rhetoric that dehumanizes others based on country of origin, race (our faultiest invention), and religion.
I went to Charleston for the first time this past June. It was humid, teeming with other bachelorette parties, and awfully charming. Over shrimp and grits, (grits, by the way, originating from way the Muskogee tribe's preparation of "Indian corn"), our food tour guide deemed Charleston one of the few colonial cities in which all religious groups were able to freely practice; an impressive privilege, indeed! but all the while legal servitude was booming. 60,000 black slaves outnumbered white colonists in the early 18th century.
It's so necessary (and uncomfortable) to confront our reprehensible histories—how we could possibly reconcile, what we should have learned, where we still need healing—and that's all before considering our current realities. There's so much, and at times, so little.

And then there are moments, moments that make me remember; like those at Courtney and Dani's wedding. I was so deeply touched by the fortitude of (as J.R. Moehringer writes in his praise of All the Light We Cannot See) "the countless facets of the human heart." There is also love. Hope. We continue.