And sometimes, suddenly, you want to forgive.

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Photo by @brittrosephotography

Procrastination. It’s one of my favourite pastimes.
Especially on days like today; days where I’m not exactly sure how to feel or what to say. 

Maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to figure out how to write this. 


He was killed nine years ago, on a highway in Nevada. I was 17.
I cried, even though he was nothing more than a name
and the DNA running through my blood. 

Simply just a memory, two actually, of a cowboy who rode horses and captured geckos, and it took me nine years to figure out that I wasn’t satisfied with how little I cared.
And maybe care is the wrong word.
Because I’ve always cared about the biological father I never knew
and the family that came along with that. 

But there was no time,
or that’s what everybody likes to think,
and then he was gone, and time continued to pass by. 

I was bitter.
Venomous when I spoke about him.
Because he had done nothing for me.
If I hadn’t reached out when I was younger,
I wouldn’t even have the two memories that I do. 

I blamed him for so much,
and his memory hurt the father that raised me,
so he became words I didn’t speak,
and one day, words I didn’t even think about. 

Until last year.
I don’t know what changed.
I don’t know why suddenly, one day,
I wanted to honour the father I never knew. 

But I did.
I wanted to remember him,
and remember the fact that if it wasn’t for him,
I literally wouldn’t be here today. 

I know what my mom has told me,
and I know what his family has told me,
and I’ve made up the rest. 

I think he was a good man,
with a lot of spirit,
and a family he loved with all his heart. 

And in some way, in some part of his life,
I was part of that family. 

Or that’s what I like to believe. 

But maybe it’s deeper than that.
Maybe I don’t need to feel like I was part of his family,
because, in reality, I wasn’t. 

We were related by blood,
but he wasn’t my father. 

My step-father will always hold that name in my life,
because he’s the one who punished me when I messed up,
and who told me I could do the thing when mom said no.

He was my hero.
And that will never change. 

But Leslie Ivan?
He’s the blood in my veins,
and nine years is a long time to begin to realize that,
but I’m happy that I have. 

I still don’t know how to feel.
Sad?
Angry?
Nothing?
All of the above?
Maybe forgiveness? Free? 

I have two memories of my biological father.
And I will never be able to make more,
but I will be able to take those two memories everywhere with me where I go,
and know that at least I had the opportunity to know as much as I did. 

I’ve never visited a grave before,
but I’m going to visit his grave.
And I won’t know what to say,
and maybe I won’t say anything at all. 

But we all have to start somewhere.
Maybe this is my somewhere. 



Rest in peace Leslie. (March 1, 1957 – March 8, 2008)

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Sometimes I drive.

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Sometimes I drive and I don’t know how to stop, the mountains in the distance calling my name. The setting sun sends a dark glow over the landscape and my heart isn’t ready. 

Ready for what?
Ready to give up everything it’s worked so hard for?

The city brings chaos and so much potential for pain, but the mountains?
They hold peace and silence and spirit.
So much spirit.
So much beauty.
They hold the secrets of the universe, and driving toward them helps me understand the secrets in my heart. 

I won’t ever give up on love, because love is so much more than a guy and a girl.
Love is the magic in a new day, and the end of that same one.
Love is listening to your favourite song on repeat.
Love is slowing down and appreciating every single little thing,
because on the dark nights it’s those little things that get you through. 

I love the city, but it gets harder and harder to return when you know waiting for you is a week soaked in the same routines.
And maybe that’s why I’ll never give up on love. 

Because in the same old routines love is what keeps me going, moving forward, knowing that the risk is what keeps you guessing. 

And maybe the guessing is the best part.

Not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but knowing that simply rising with the sun is a joy in and of itself. 

Existence has its moments of sheer and utter destruction,
but that’s the beauty in our condition.

Anybody can live their life, but that isn’t the challenge now is it? 

Distance doesn’t have to damage.

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I’ve been distant. Distant from myself. Distant from my friends.
It’s not something that needs to be apologized for, and no one expects me to apologize.
And it’s okay.
Everybody has their days of distance – where all they need is a Netflix account and a good cup of tea.
That’s been my month – my month of learning my own silence.
Realizing that I have so many more good days than bad.
Realizing that even though I sit alone in my apartment – I am far from lonely.
But I do still miss the light – the ones I care about.
And the chance to sit in the same room – even with my mind still distanced – means the world.
I always thought I needed to speak to fill the silence.
Now I find I would rather listen.
But the more I listen the more distant I feel.
The more intrigued I feel – to learn and understand these strangers that have become such a crucial part of my days in this city.
Distance doesn’t have to be bad.
It doesn’t have to be something I’m ashamed of.
And it isn’t.
It just is.
It’s just there – in the dark nights.
Distance is dark.
The blue dark of the looming mountains just before the final rays of the sun leave the Earth colder than the moment before.
Distance is cold.
The cold of a fresh glass of water after a good work out.
Distance is welcoming.
The welcoming of a hug after a month of no communication.
I’ve been distant.
I’ve realized I haven’t paid as much attention as I would have liked.
But I’m okay with the distance.
I’m okay learning that distance is healthy.
We need distance from the world to remind us of ourselves.
I’ve been reminding myself of just who I am.
Distance is home.

If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth it.

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Healing is hard. It’s messy.
And some days healing doesn’t feel very good.
You kick and you scream. You don’t want to fight it, but accepting it can sometimes hurt worse than the bruises that will appear.

Healing isn’t fun.
It cuts you open and leaves you second guessing
every single decision you have ever made.
It makes you feel like you don’t belong,
because everyone wants the happiness
and sometimes this process creates the exact opposite.

But what can you do? Run away?

That’s the easy part I suppose.
Run away from the needles poking into your damaged heart,
turn your back on the silent thoughts that you have to face.
Because what does happen when you finally face them?
What happens when you run at them head on?

Everything. Everything happens.

You cry. A lot.

But you also smile, way more than you used to.
You stand stronger.
You care about yourself more.

You feel better.

Until you don’t.
Until something reminds you of why you had to heal in the first place.
And suddenly all your progress feels like the junk mail that goes straight to the trash.

Suddenly all the good days disappear,
and you’re left wondering if all the happy days were just a facade
to trick yourself into thinking you were in control.

So you drown your thoughts out with liquor,
or a book,
or bath bombs,
the swirling colours a welcome distraction from the grey of the outside world.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow you’ll feel happy again.

Because something in today pulled you down,
made you forget that you are pushing through step by step,
and that this is healing.

Healing is crying.

It’s laughing. It’s getting so angry you want to break.

But it’s also getting up.
Cleaning the house when you want to sleep.
Feeling the sunshine on your face,
or wishing on the bright stars, faint in the city light.

Healing is messy. And it will always be messy.

But if you didn’t feel the needle pokes you wouldn’t have the faintest clue at how close you were to dry land.

 

He is the band aid in getting over you.

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He was a band aid over a gaping wound.
But the problem about wounds isn’t about keeping them in the dark. It’s about letting the light in.
It’s about letting the air flow through the bloodied pieces to sew them back together.
A band aid only works so well for so long. It only holds the pieces together until the blood soaks through. Until the outside world works away the adhesive until the darn thing all but falls off.
That’s what he was. He was a shining soul holding the darkness in, saving my wounded heart from feeling the air that would cause it to heal.
And he did it so beautifully.
But in his presence the wound stayed open, because in his absence I realized just how healed I wasn’t.
In his absence I realized how much I had latched onto the feeling of having someone who covered that wound so perfectly.


I’m not over him. Anything that makes a person feel such violent emotion is not something they are simply over. It’s not something that’s gone away, that you smile at in fondness of the good memories.
No, it’s something that still hurts you every time you think about it. Something that makes you wonder how you could have been so blind, so stupid.
The pain feels like a knife, stabbing past the band aid, ripping the wound deeper, as I lay awake wondering how I let it get so wrong.
I don’t know how to rip the band aid off, the one holding back his memory.
I don’t know how to let go.
I shouldn’t have to drink my body weight in alcohol to feel okay. I shouldn’t have to numb the pain of you, and you shouldn’t have the numb the pain of him.
Today I head to the south, where the birds chirp and the stars shine, and everything else comes easily. Where you will be, hopefully, a distant memory as I tune out.
I want to keep you as a band aid, but the more I understand the logistics behind healing, the more ready I am for the open air.

In order to heal, first you must feel.

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I stood outside under the clouds, a camera in my hands, and prayed for stars. It was a moment of clarity, as my eyes adjusted to the silence of the night.
I wasn’t sure what the universe had in store for me. Lately, it seems, she has been throwing continuous curve balls that hit me square in the face, leaving me flat on my ass, ready to stand up again, with no less enthusiasm than the moment before.
And it was in that moment when I realized, that despite the challenges and the bruises from these ever constant surprises, I was grateful.
I was grateful for my parents, who have supported me and sat back, letting me live my life but stepping in when the weight was too much.
I was grateful for my best friend, who was the first to fully accept me, and all my magnificent flaws, and who showed me what true friendship was, and is.
And I was grateful for everyone else too, those who had come in, and out, of my life. Staying for a few weeks, or staying for a few years, each of them had taught me another lesson in self love.
I stood underneath the dark prairie sky, praying for stars, but grateful for the clouds, and as I took deep breathes of crisp November air, I noticed the exact thing I had been hoping for.
A tiny patch of stars, above my head, peaking through for the camera I held at the ready.
Constellations surrounded by thick cloud, shining through to grace my little piece of world with their light.
And I accepted the message they brought with; the message that in the gloomy nights the universe was still present.
She’s just shrouded in cloud, holding her breath until you step back and look for the light. Even if you can’t see it, she waits for you to know it is there.
Because she sees the strength in you, because she put you on this path, under that patch of stars, to understand just something a little bit more about yourself.