08/ 03/ 2016
We all have a story.
I thought I would have things figured out by now. My path was supposed to be straight – that’s what I was told by the woman who read my tea leaves when I was 19, the summer before I moved to Toronto to be an actress. (She had also warned me not to make any romantic commitments at the time, because it would slow me down on my path. Of course I didn’t listen. Of course she was right. But that’s a story for another day.)
When I look back on my time in Toronto, amidst the utter chaos and the crushing heartache sits the thread of a story I had almost forgotten. My job working in a bookstore. Stolen moments sitting by the lake writing. The boxes upon boxes of books I insisted on shipping back and forth across the Country because I couldn’t bear to be without them. The woman who offered to pay me, quite out of the blue, to help her edit her University essays because English was her second language. I never contacted her. I didn’t have a degree so I assumed I wasn’t smart enough, but also, it wasn’t part of the plan.
Some nights, when I finally remembered, I would cry for the loss of the paths not taken. Thinking that somehow I had veered off course and my life was not the life I was supposed to be living. That my son was not the son I was supposed to have; the one I had known in my heart for so long. That I still ended up in the same small town I grew up in and had been desperate to leave. That my history was repeating, and I couldn’t escape.
But here’s the thing – when you find your past staring at you in the present, there’s a reason.
What lessons have you yet to learn?
What chances were you meant to take, but the timing wasn’t right?
What beautiful souls were waiting to love you – waiting for you to love them?
What passions keep bubbling to the surface, waiting for you to finally realize what’s been in front of you all along?
In the end, you might realize you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
And you can finally stop standing still.
photo by Davis Ayer
01/ 01/ 2016
I welcome 2016 with open arms and an open heart.
Last night I attended a wonderful small gathering at a friend’s home for New Years Eve, and in my cracker was a small blue pencil sharpener in the shape of a heart. What a wonderful sign for the year ahead. Lately I’ve been questioning whether or not I’m on the right path (don’t we all?) and I’ve also been thinking that I need to have more focus, clarity and discipline in my life, particularly where writing is concerned.
What better sign than this little blue pencil sharpener shaped like a heart? to me it said: YES, you are a writer! I’ve shown up to tell you that you are on the right path. (I was on the lookout for a sign from the universe and I got one.) You must write, and write more but most importantly, write from the heart. Write your truth and dive deep into the blue ocean of your soul. Write from there and all will fall into place. Fun stuff!
This is a great piece on omens and the cards in case any of you are looking for a bit of help and guidance for the year ahead. (And, you know, if you’re into that sort of thing, which I am.)
photo by cate emond
06/ 11/ 2015
I’ve always been the kind of girl who wears her heart on her sleeve.
You should know that the moment I stepped off the plane at LAX for the first time, I was irreversibly, and irrevocably in love. Does that sound dramatic? Okay, maybe I wasn’t quite in love yet – the airport had been under construction for a while and I was just trying to catch my breath, overwhelmed – mostly by the crazy traffic. (and as crazy as it sounds, I miss that traffic now.)
It was more of a slow realization, especially since, for the year I would spend in California, I would actually be residing over an hour away near the mojave desert. (Pretty much the furthest you can get and still be residing within Los Angeles County.) But that didn’t matter because I was determined to spend as much time getting to know you as possible since I had been dreaming of California – Los Angeles – *HOLLYWOOD* – since I was a little girl.
The first thing that hits me when I arrive is the big-ness of it all. LA, you are one huge fucking city.
I wanted to do everything. On average I spent about 1-2 days a week driving back and forth on the 14, the 5, and sometimes the 405 as I attempted to soak it all up. 1-2 days is not even close to enough time but it was all I could manage. I took acting classes that were fun but made me realize how out of my element I was. It’s hard not to compare when your classmates are guest-starring on NCIS and Criminal Minds and all you’ve done is fail at chicken strip commercial auditions and the last time you did background work for a Lifetime movie the director told his assistant to tell you to cover up your tattoo because it was in the shot. But I digress. For the first time I was accepting of the fact that I wasn’t the best (not that I was ever the best, I just accepted it now); that I was where I was and I could be content in that place. Learn from it.
Getting lost in the redundant, overcomplicated system of trying to get a work visa and social security, I decided instead to focus on writing and exploring all of you.
I made my first American friend when I walked into my local Starbucks and started chatting up the barista about the hand-crafted soda they were peddling on TV.
“What the hell, do they make the bubbles from scratch?” I asked, somewhat jokingly. Well yes, apparently they do, it turns out. We shared not only the same name, but the same love for acting, and she was moving to LA soon and I just knew we had to be friends. I miss her little Kathleen Kelly studio apartment in Koreatown, where I enjoyed my first ever taste of Korean BBQ and soju. For a short while, that studio apartment was my home away from home; a quiet refuge in an old 1920’s 4-floor walk-up (no way in hell was I ever taking that elevator), in the middle of the city. At one point my friend heard about some guy in her neighbourhood who was going around punching women in the face and stealing their purses, so we started carrying pepper spray just in case.
As cliche as it sounds, I found myself in this vast, congested city. I read an article in The New Yorker recently that described California as being the place “where a person goes to change. [That] the state is a haven in which to unfurl whatever latent identity has been lurking in your bones.” Yes. There is truth in these words because, for me it seems, whatever latent identity had been lurking in my own bones, well she finally felt like she could be free.
The New Yorker piece was about Lana Del Rey’s latest album, and it talked about California originating from fantasy, and how Lana’s California “is the California of our collective unconsciousness, a dream song.” When I reflect on the past year, my own memories are coloured by this purple-y, hazy dream song in which I got to do things like get invited to cool French fashions shows during LAFW because I happen to know someone who goes to the same full moon rituals and shamanic meditations I do at the House of Intuition on Sunset Blvd. (That’s just the kind of thing that happens in LA!) This is my California too!
And there are so many more amazing memories: Meeting one of my favourite authors at a cool little vegan restaurant in Culver City // Taking a writing workshop taught by that same author at her infamous Fairy Cottage // Meeting one of my magazine heroes (who probably thought I was a sycophantic dork, but I really don’t care because I just love the work that they do) at an art exhibit in gritty, industrial downtown LA // discovering new artists // walking around that gritty, industrial part of LA thinking there’s nothing around, and being pleasantly surprised by The Villians Tavern, with it’s afro DJ spinning records, drinks in mason jars, so hipster it hurts vibe, and Bestia // Oh Bestia … your veal tartare … farro salad … sitting at the bar watching pizza being made in a wood burning oven while sipping champagne … did I mention the veal tartare … // tarot card readings in Los Feliz and meditating on Sunset Blvd. // lying on the beach in Malibu and walking the Santa Monica pier // Singing karaoke and drinking Margaritas at the most authentic little Mexican cantina in Lancaster // Sea Urchin at The Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara – “you try it first” “No! you go first” // Palm trees // Joshua trees // The best dessert and tacos at that restaurant I can’t remember the name of now // Letters and poems and drinking a cappuccino in the corner of that local Starbucks as the late morning sun shines through the window // Simple things – reading and writing by the pool // Friday night dinners and Saturday morning hangovers after too much tequila // Old friends in new places // The pregnant tea!!
So many of my memories involve food. Food and good people. The most incredible people – the MOST!!! People so dear to me now I can’t imagine my life without them. How did I get so lucky?
We experienced it all in California, and like any great love story, there was heartbreak. The kind of soul-crushing heartbreak that makes a person wonder how, if, they’ll ever feel normal again. (The answer: you won’t, but that’s okay. Normal is over-rated. It doesn’t even exist). Tragic events, and mini dramas, mingling and swirling together but we came out of it on the other side. I think. I hope. (I will always be there for you – You know who you are. I will always get on the plane no matter where I am!)
Even now, as I write this, in my small, northern Canadian town 1800 miles away from this place that I miss, I feel emotional. It aches like the longing of unrequited love and now I know that’s dramatic, but it’s true. And it was in LA that I came to the unexpected and surprising realization that I wanted to be a mother. Huh. Who would have thought … So I changed, and I grew – literally and figuratively – and I discovered that I always loved this City, even before we met.
It may have been a slow realization, this love for the place I now consider home in my heart. But in the end that’s the best kind. The lasting kind. The kind of love that comes second, only after my love for my husband and my son – my California surfer boy, who I love with a fierceness that is deeper than the ocean that is his namesake – but the kind of love that you can only feel when you know you’ve finally come home, and you can breath in the knowledge that here you can be yourself.
photos by cate emond