I sit on the 23, heading home… leaning my head against the window. The bus is full. It’s damp outside and damp inside. I have a seat, a warm seat on the left side- I always get a seat as I always get on at the first stop. No need to anticipate and worry about trying to get off and navigate the crowd in the tiny bus for my stop is the last one along the route.
Heading West means heading home. The 23 is the last rung on the journey- be it coming from Coquitlam, Surrey, Fraser and Broadway…
The bus driver is the nice one, who chats all friendly always, this time to passengers from out of town. The driver talks about his life, born and raised in Mexico City. He is so kind to anyone getting on, anyone getting off. He talks about his favorite food, neighborhoods.
I do a lot of thinking on this bus. Heading West means the day is done. I shift my brain from youth work to family and creative work. I write in my head, I draw in my mind. I long to get back at it. But I remind myself that I am at it. I seem to stay in the creative process at all times.
The mantra tonight in my head as I lean against the window, as I stare out into the rain runs:
I don’t care if anyone likes my writing or drawings.
I don’t care if I like my writing or drawings.
I only care that I am writing and drawing.
I take this shit pretty seriously.
I get off the bus by the Laughing Statues with a thank you and You are a wonderful person to the bus driver. Stepping off that bus, every time, no matter how tired I am, how many bags I carry, how hungry I am, how distracted- I am always infused with intense gratitude and love for my neighborhood with that first step.
In the daylight, usually in the morning on the way to the 23, I stop every time I see a bird, an animal. Smiling at the towhees, the sparrows, the gulls, geese, crows, robins, finches, chickadees, the herons on the roofs, the squirrels… In the dark, the animals are quiet. But the trees are fresh. The lights are on inside the apartments. And the sounds of domesticity comfort.
There is a melancholia, a history, a soulfulness and full-of-souls-fullness to my neighborhood. And I find myself being able to stay present in this neighborhood. I find myself fed. There is a sense of grief in this neighborhood that I align with. And that seems to feed my process.
There is a melancholia, a history, a soulfulness and full-of-souls-fullness to my creative process, to my stuff that I keep. I begin to understand that I prefer to write and draw and read about grief. And I find myself being able to stay present surrounded by my books, my creations, my collections, the family photo albums. I find my creative process fed. More and more I understand that I am an archivist, a self-appointed family historian because I find a strange comfort in saudade.
Grief seems to both feed and be my creative process. And all along I thought I was seeking freedom, that my current project, Molly, is about freedom, but I think my overarching theme is actually grief– how it shapes and directs us. Perhaps I am simply an explorer. Not seeking answers as such, just shining a little flashlight getting glimpses on something that I may never grasp but am drawn to. Curious. And therein lies the freedom. My soul is being fed.
Freedom is not about the size of your cage, or power of your wings, or non-attachment to a person or a thing. Freedom is about being so deeply, madly and truly attached to your own soul that you can’t bear, if only for a moment, a life that doesn’t honor it.
– Andrea Balt
I’m back on the 23, three large tote bags filled with notes and supplies and youth work on my lap, heading west, the end of another day and tonight my mantra shifts to:
There is so much I want to write about, draw about.
And I make a list in my head as I mull over how grief is intertwined in my personal timeline. The list seemingly senseless but somehow important.
Mom losing her mom
Oscar Wilde and the Nightingale and the Rose
Mom, Tolstoy and the moment of
The blog- to deposit
Dad, Drawn Together and being in process
Dead birds and writing
Drawn to books
Process and reflection
The decision to stay and the beauty of being
Why this list? Why do these stand out? I don’t need to answer.
I only care that I am writing and drawing.