tattoos and black bears and water; whistler, bc.

the longer i exist in this body, chemistry, and personhood, the more i realize how fiercely independent i am and always have been. i am more grounded when i make intentional space for myself, i am kinder, i am more patient, i am more eloquent, i am more gracious. i stand up for myself and am not afraid to express how i feel to myself and to the people i love. i'm more honest. i'm more thoughtful and conscious of how hard it is to be human, and in doing so, i give people the benefit of the doubt more. i'm a better artist. as primarily an extrovert i don't like being alone, but solitude is very different than loneliness. and in independence, solitude is necessary. and from a very young age, i played with homemade toys and ribbons tied to sticks and ran around in my front yard, immersed in my imagination. whenever my family would come outside or a stranger would walk by, i would immediately pretend that i wasn't in my head, that i wasn't curious, that i wasn't strange. i felt shame and embarrassment at eight years old about playing and taking the time i needed to be fully who i am; i was afraid of being seen. and now, out of school for a year after being in a classroom for sixteen years, told to not doodle during class even though it helped me learn and concentrate, fidgeting in my seat because i needed more time than other students to release my energy and anxiety, i am letting the young girl within me speak up again, and she has a lot to say. she is reminding me that it's okay to take my space to play and explore and imagine and be curious by myself. she is reminding me that it's okay to make and sing just for the damn sake of making and singing, even if it doesn't look or sound good. reminding me that my intensity is nothing to be ashamed of. she is reminding me that i can be by myself, and myself is good. and i don't have to run away from her anymore.

at least twice a month i have dreams of singing and letting my voice reverberate within my ribcage and throat without censoring myself. it is a dream of freedom and a cry to be seen by myself again, to no longer be afraid of who i am and what i need.

i went to new york city by myself in the spring to visit friends in brooklyn, and after that trip, i felt almost exactly the same way i do in this moment. empowered, full, grounded, capable. so very capable, and it's one of the most calming, powerful, and lovely feelings. i love traveling with my partner, but as our relationship continues to evolve and become evermore steadfast, i am realizing that i need to escape at times, to listen and breathe and see and learn through my independence and other relationships; personal pilgrimages. as much as austin and i intentionally fight against the gender roles and expectations we have been taught our entire lives by religion and society, there are narratives that we both cannot help but accidentally slip into without even realizing at times. and so, i am discovering that it is a non negotiable for me to step away every so often to collect and remind myself how strong and intelligent and fierce i am. that i can cross the border by myself, trust my gut that a girl i only know from instagram will be a good weekend travel partner as i pick her up in vancouver, that we can find a secret camp site on a random dirt road that my sedan definitely shouldn't have been on, that i can drive twelve hours by myself to get a tattoo that has taken seven months to schedule, that i can kayak by myself and let my heart and eyes overflow into the water and mountains, that i can be a leader in camping and traveling and make calls from my intuition and gut, that i can let the earth cradle me and let experiences be holy and sacred and thoughtful. and it can just be mine. having a human partner to witness my life is a gift, but there are times where witnessing yourself in solitude is an essential form of self love.

i am picking up fragments and souvenirs that i have lost throughout my life. they feel foreign and dear and as though my sensitive, easily broken, porcelain heart is finding a way to beat again. rediscovering that the water is cold but the way that it creates drops upon my skin is fantastical, and friendships are hard but healing is possible, that even when we lose ourselves we are always there to come back to, and we will be embraced by the Divine that is always waiting within to let us collapse and weep and unfurl our leaves into the sunlight once again; rooted, again.