Tidings of Pain, Love & Joy (in Tofino, BC. Christmas 2018)

November 2018, Imagine Dragons released their new album while I was preparing for a regional youth speech contest.

West Coast by Imagine Dragons, like a double espresso, kicks into my blood and brain and never lets my mind wander away. The lyrics are so beautiful and they sing:

I’ll be your strong man, I’ll be your West Coast
I’ll be the sun, I’ll be the waves, I’ll be the one you love the most.

It’s everything I want and I will be.

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Right now I’m at a very strange stage of life, where I’m not sure if I’m too selfish or too lost.

I was unhappy for a while with my life. In October, I said bye-bye to someone who meant a lot to me and my growth. The first reactions I had when that heartbreaking conversation happened was “Okay, now you have more time to focus on yourself and your work. You can’t gain weight, you can’t be sad, so just calmly move on.”

I obliged to that thought. I ran extensively from that month on. I went out more frequently with friends (thanks to Halloween and the holiday season). I did get busier, and I was excited to breathe life into a big contest event. I kept meeting awesome people in this uniquely amazing city. But I don’t feel like talking about relationships, love, or marriage with anyone anymore. During that time, I felt hollow inside when someone came to me and asked me for relationship advice; especially when I’m doing volunteering job online, that came even stronger. I’d use all the sentences I could think of to comfort them, to encourage them to move forward & up. It was more like talking to myself.

Spend my days cursing my soul
Wishing I could paint my scars and make me whole
Oh, I know I could be better
But my love, I won’t give up

I’ve been non-stop in Nov and Dec: first community contest event, a work trip to Toronto, programme design and theatre communication… And finally, on Dec 22, I delivered this event baby at Vancouver Playhouse. I didn’t remember I interned in the same building for Vancouver International Children’s Festival 3 years ago until I arrived at the stage door; that internship drew me into events & marketing, and I came back with my first official event baby. Life works out in a funny way.

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Right after the event, my mom and I drove to Tofino on Vancouver Island together. I needed this vacation, just staying in the resort, looking at the waves and people surfing every day, while watching some good movies and having festive food. It went exactly like that, although I did plan to finish One Hundred Years of Solitude, I didn’t. I saw the most breathtaking galaxy full of stars on Christmas Eve, I’ve never such fascinating, even spellbinding night sky that I silently went into tears. The waves were calming, and indie songs were still playing in my headphone. I saw the most captivating sky, and I’m gonna remember it forever.

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The day before we went back to Vancouver, I met Paul. He tried guessing where I’m from and couldn’t get it even close. I was gonna guess about his background but he happily told me (while innocently believing I’d spill out mine).

Paul’s French from Reunion, and he moved to France and went to a school specialized in swimming training. He’s been travelling the world for the last two years, living a great adventure: guiding dog-sledding tours in Alaska, training for Muay Thai in Thailand, surfing in Taiwan… When I asked him why he decided to move to Tofino, he said that he wanted to live in Canada and searched for places he could surf, “it’d be Tofino or Halifax, but Halifax doesn’t have good weather for surfing during winter time.”

That’s how he became a West Coast man, just like in the song.

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We couldn’t stop talking that evening. I went to his apartment in downtown Tofino, and he put on his YouTube mix of indie & chill music. We asked each other so many questions, that in an hour, I think I could write a novel on his journey. He has lived without a phone for the past 2 years. When he was figuring out his new iPhone 5s which was bought 5 days before then, I couldn’t help but laugh. Paul loves nature, and he will always enjoy being outdoors. His passion is in building beautiful tree cabins; unfortunately, West Coast is a bit too wet for building a cabin with dry woods right now. I told him that I’d be a psychologist one day, and I’d help soothe people’s emotional restraint or pain. He looked at me with curious eyes, and he just kept doing that. We both realized that we belong to different environments, although Vancouver is already a good crossroads for urban and nature scenes.

I ain’t no superman, I ain’t no holy ghost
I’m just the one that keeps you up and that you love the most

Later I put HONNE on speaker,  “I love them,” He said.

“Me too! I went to see them last September”

“I went to their concert too.”

“Where?”

“Bordeaux.”

“Uh, Bordeaux.”

I have a habit of reading things out when they are in a language I’m trying to master. I saw a book on his nightstand and read the title out. He laughed.

“What?”

“Nothing! It’s Lord of Ring, but you said it like Lord of Lamb. Behhhhh.”

He also killed me in Spanish and Italian. I almost gave up.

Two swimmers/language lovers who have been living their young, adventurous life on beautiful planet earth, listening to indie, while sharing their past generously with each other. We last-named each other.

I told him that our interaction is not much different from the ocean waves, sometimes we talk in a fast pace cuz’ we are too excited to share and agree, sometimes we slow down and think about it before moving on. There’s nothing too rushed or slacked, it’s all very natural.

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“You gotta come back. This cannot just end here.”

If six months ago, I would say “of course I will” without hesitation. But I can’t this time. I always know I could live wherever I go, and I thought it was only going to be a matter of how much I love the city and whom I’m with. Now that I’ve learnt it’s going to be so much more than that. I couldn’t give any promise or false hope to this guy, who has those dazzling eyes just like the night sky I’ve seen on the beach. There’s always an emotional price to pay after things shatter, and I don’t wanna touch that anymore. So, all we can do is spending the whole night talking. I wish I had taught him how to use his phone properly.

I ain’t no superman, I ain’t no holy ghost
I’m just the one that keeps you up and that you love the most

On my 3-hour drive back to the ferry terminal with my mom, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if I switch to a flip phone? What if I only talk to friends through email or phone call? How many people would I still be in touch with? Who would I still bother picking up my phone for?

And why do I need any “special” one in my life anyway? Sometimes think it’s cool to meet or even date certain types of people, those with certain good qualities, then maybe it’s time for me to be one. Instead of being with someone, it’s even better to be someone.

So if I call you, or if I show this post to you, you mean a lot to me 🙂 Happy New Year 2019.

I’ll be your West Coast, honey. Let’s make the most of this amazing planet before it’s too late.

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