Upon a fence...

Perched – feathers stowed – silently watching. Returning to this reality......how does one even begin to describe this experience? Quite frankly, I've been so 'in it' that attempting to give voice 'to it' seemed futile. However, in this moment, I find myself drenched with words and can hardly believe its been so long since I've written. I'm like a waterlogged sparrow, having just flown through a torrential downpour – sitting upon a fence – quietly observing as I wait for these feathers to dry. As the drops roll slowly downwards, I suppose now is as good a time as any to offer my impressions.

When last I wrote I sat under fluorescent light and whirring ceiling fan – bags packed – heart steady – pre-flight.

Following a lengthy but uneventful journey home, my feet touched ground in Vancouver for the briefest of moments. I teetered, feeling alien and strange, wondering at the silence – at the wide, empty streets – at the overly manicured lawns and faces and lives and the sparkling, shiny brilliance of the city. I shot some photos for clients, both old and new, marveling at the strangeness of 'working' again, suddenly busier than I'd ever been prior to leaving for India. With the exception of a beautiful Thanksgiving meal and a few brief reunions with sorely missed friends, I didn't visit many people while in Van. Still, I made a few new connections, sharing wine and inspiration with a beautiful soul who became the link that would carry me the last 1000 miles home.

I enjoyed some much needed time alone at a close friend's house in Strathcona, receding a touch into retrospection and contemplation. I considered my heart's ventures, measuring my changed self as reflected in the eyes of the one who knows me best – the man I left behind but whom I will always love. I curiously reminisced about all those I'd come across along the way – about the men who intrigued and challenged me and the women who became fast, sisterly companions. I wrote a fateful email to a boy I still held fascination for, knowing I'd hear no reply – a Canadian boy I'd met on a roadside in Nepal – a boy that somehow managed to make it past my ruthless sentries to unwittingly claim a tiny piece of my heart in less than a day. The releasing of those truths became the catalyst for the letting go of much that my heart still clung to, forcing me to leave my trip behind and begin turning my focus forward. I briefly lamented the sending of that email, but transformed that regret into a sweetly melancholy song called 'Heartquakes', reminding myself of the inherent transience of this life.

I was truly in between worlds for those three weeks – unsure how to 'be' – uncertain of my footing – not knowing yet how to reintegrate in the smoothest way possible. The oddly 'out-of-place' feeling didn't abate upon arrival in San Francisco. In fact, I felt even more overwhelmed, but quietly so. I must admit, negotiating my re-entry has been considerably more difficult than I might've imagined. Though I'd been warned to brace myself, the subtle trickiness of my return caught me slightly off-guard.

Of course...how could it not be strange? For a year I lived a blessed existence of complete self-investment that is hard to imagine from this perspective. I spent those months exploring and nurturing every facet of my creative expression – feeling thoroughly inspired – encouraged – supported. Comparatively, this culture feels oppressive – abrasive – difficult to navigate with the same strength I felt while in India. Only adding to my challenge is the hard to believe fact that I have not lived in the Bay Area for nearly 7 years. So I've struggled a bit with this gravitational pull that feels so familiar and could so easily be surrendered to – right back into habitually negative ways of thinking – about myself – about my self-worth – about my creativity and the validity of my contributions to this world. Tricky, indeed.

My first month back in the Bay found me regenerating at my brother's house in Forest Knolls. I was necessarily buried in post-production – suddenly reminded of the part of working for myself that I find the most unsettling. But it also provided an excuse to lay low a while, allowing me the space to process a bit – to incubate and incorporate the learnings of the past year – to better understand how to re-enter this world with the least amount of sway in my step. I showed my face a few times, but spent most hours working on photos, delaying the inevitable – postponing a necessary commitment to creating a healthy space for myself here. The concept brought up anxiety that surprised me. But as I looked back, I realized that nearly two years had passed since last I had a space to really call my own – since last my bags were truly unpacked – clothes unfolded and draped on hangers – walls and shelves adorned with tid-bits of 'me'. Naturally, some part of me feared the stability. Though the better part of me longed for a door to close myself in and the world out, I felt undeniably torn.

The layers are many – too numerous to even begin examining here, but suffice it to say that, finding a room and acquiring the necessary elements with which to fill it, namely; bed, desk, chair, linens...was a disturbingly daunting task. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to run right back to India – away from all these binding details – back to the easy non-attachment of the gypsy life. But thanks to the generosity of good friends and some deeper determination to push past unfamiliar fears, I found myself in the sweetest of places – in a house in Oakland full of warmth and music and nurturing souls – in a neighborhood that has surpassed the expectations I didn't even know I had. These two weeks in my new room have afforded me the spaciousness within to share these words...

Here are some highlights from my journal for a more intimate glimpse of my return...


22 September: Overhead bins closing...seat belts buckling...babies crying...shifting...shuffling...muffled adjusting...recycled air pumping. Soon we will be airborne...my 2nd flight today after a layover in London. Nearly missed my flight this morning. Unbelievably stressful...but I made it just under the wire...the last to check in. So tired now...already feeling the strange effects of traveling backwards, so to speak, losing hours. I'll arrive on the same day I left, though I will have been traveling for nearly 24 hours. Bizarre...always tricky to relabel hours passed...to reassign them as 'relivable'...to pause and redress moments, however mundane. *Engines revving...the shake, rumble and jostle of takeoff...the whine of machinery...the audible retraction of wheels as pavement gives way to thin air. This mind observes...these ears take note...we're on our way. I....am going 'home'. [*HOME*] A word that evokes an odd mix of curiosity and comfort...confusion and clarity...certitude and uncertainty. *This body is transported...shifted between perceived spaces...but this mind is surprisingly still...looking out over ripples...soft creases where folds once were...stretching ever outwards...expanding in all directions...always and only from this spot. *Reaching altitude...heralded by that familiar 'ding'...unclicking...seats relaxing...bodies easing. Refreshments wheeling past..."Bloody Mary?" Don't mind if I do....been ages since I tasted such a thing...forgetting that, up here, it won't take much to make a still mind wobble. *Soft smile rests gently...reasonless. Old mind whispers...taunting...half-heartedly cohersing...toying...suggesting...as though ancient, worn out patterns have anything to offer me now. Moments...impressions...dull memories...they beckon, as always, but I shall not be swayed. This infinite moment...this creaseless, pristine interval between then and when...this is all there is. Contemplating the last year serves no real purpose. I can assign meaning...but, after all, however much I review and re-live...I'll only ever arrive...here...NOW. *Last name, first name, initials...block lettered declaration of identity and belonging...from whence and where do I come? Value of goods? Pause...answers unsure. Address.....have I one? Quiet decision made......'I'm just a visitor here'...... *A box demands numbers...a mind unaccustomed, too long removed from such formalities, wavers, penning incorrect lines...a numerical palindrome where 'today' should've been (011110)...showing me the ordinary, simple magic that propels my pen. *And so it goes....this steady swaying between minor, minute details and silent wisdom...the pendulum swing...brass in an ancient clock, measuring...lulling...marking moments. Somewhere...in that brief changing of direction...the middle mark...you'll find me there...on hold...neither here nor there...between 'was and 'might be'...perfectly unconcerned...ready for every subsequent 'now'. I am ALIVE....

24 September: Vancouver...squeaky clean...crisp...so very 'shiny'. Everything is sparkling...eerily perfect...orderly. And the smells...decidedly...clear. Aware, suddenly, of a subtle undertone... ...an 'iambeautifulandsuccessfulandeverythingisperfect' smell... ...a silent suggestion of affluence...the scent of a culture...quietly reassuring those who dwell within it...'all is well here'. But...is it? Somehow, recognizing this invisible thread highlights a feeling of 'not belonging'...like I'm sniffing my way home...knowing by nose...'this is not my tribe'.

26 September: ...tip-toe fine-line stepping...pulling a hush over my heart...slow watching...barely moving...touching soft. Tracing life's face...quietly questioning...'do I know you?'...fingers pausing mid-stroke...inhaling recognition. Nothing stirs...like lovers warmth gone cold...we are strangers now...

3 October: Holding...waiting...moving through gently...delicate being...tricky wobble...rippled words flooding truths...letting go...releasing all that haunts me still. Vulnerable as it goes...honestly sent...

5 October: Sweet little song dancing through my fingers with all its delicate newness...the taste of sunshine on my tongue. Spent the day alone, soaking up warmth through windows, watching the world pass with guitar in hand...happy for the relatively easy birth of a new tune. It's been too long. *Feeling good...strong....quiet. Learning to accept choices made...to trust my own reasoning and let go of 'should'nt haves' and regret. What's done is done...can't cry over spilled truth. Just own up and move on...exhale and let go. It was just another little 'heartquake'...the shudders have passed...all is quiet now...

21 October: ...shaky, heavy hand reveals hidden stress...lines unsure...pen wavering...spots, dotting my skin...little eruptions as some part of me stumbles. Only a touch...just...an ever so slight falter as my soul re-enters this 'other' way of being. Holding myself steady...pausing...doing my best to hold ground...to be aware of the backwards tug without giving in to it. Walking these familiar, well worn paths I must step gingerly, lest my soles fall comfortably into old footprints. I'm hiding out a while. I need to incubate...to settle deeper into this newer 'self' before the world can muddy me again....

25 October: A steady rumble...engines humming below...loose panels buzzing overhead...the Bay waves by, lapping the sides of the ferry...reflecting the sun in undulating sparkles...smoothing itself into softer swells as we reach deeper waters. The Golden Gate, pale and faded in the distance...softly gray with mist and atmosphere...linking the ghost-like silhouettes of North Bay and San Francisco...the ordered skyline of the city, its own soft shade of gray...each building bleeding into the next in one, continuous line...a shape these eyes know so well. Some soft flutter echos...a gentle cognizance...a piece of a word...perhaps only a fraction of a letter...small, yet there...a drop of .H.O.M.E.

1 November: ...on this day, I always pose the question...Have I evolved? Have I progressed at all on my path? On this day I wonder...I quietly review...how far have I come? What distance have I traveled between who I was and who I am? Have I changed significantly? At all? Do I know my 'self' any better? do the events of the previous year warrant celebration? On THIS day...THIS year...I smile with a resounding 'YES'. This has been, without question, my most transformative yet. I've covered miles, inside and out. I've uncovered and unfolded the person my soul has always longed for...the 'me' I was too afraid to believe in. Sure...this year was wrought with heartache...I stretched myself beyond the breaking point and explored my darkest shadows. I traced my patterns with observing fingertips, accepting the roughness I found there. I winced as the worst of me boiled at the surface, lashing out in its death throes, thoroughly scaring a few people enough that they'll likely never speak to me again. But I wouldn't trade one moment of it. Everything is perfect. I am right where I should be...perched in silent waiting...readying myself for a solid flight through what will surely be a mind-blowing 36th year...


It's taken me a moment or two, and the air around me felt dark for a spell – the tricky wobble knocking me a bit off center. But I feel I'm gaining ground – gathering strength – slowly remembering why these wings brought me back to this place. The tiny droplets of creativity that began seeping through me while away are beginning to pool themselves into deeper puddles, establishing themselves as wells from which I can drink my fill without fear of them ever running dry. As I steady myself, I'm listening to the gentle wisdom of a brotherly friend who travels a step or two ahead of me in many ways. He offers reminders, softly encouraging me to PLAY. Otherwise, the world I find myself in could so easily darken my heart.

I'm weary of darkness. I covet joy – lightness of heart – and laughter...lots of it. So – little by little – through late nights creating music with a dear friend – through moments of solitary silence in a sun-drenched room that feels increasingly cozy – through the giggles of my smallest roommate and new best friend – I am finding my place...welcoming the light.

It's good to be home. Think I'll stay a while...