leaving

by melonbar92

an excerpt from my journal, written during my month in the downtown eastside:
may 29 2012
“at debrief on salt spring island. it’s a cozy cottage type house with a dock by the lake, surrounded by trees and woods. it’s pretty beautiful here… we remembered our month together by placing sticky notes on a big calendar, noting significant events, scripture, and people. then we lit candles for the people that we met and prayed for them. there are many candles burning right now.
today i got to shower.
today we left the downtown eastside.
today i took pictures with crys’ camera and had my picture taken.
today there were many times where i felt completely myself, when i as lying on the dock taking photos and when i was climbing down to the creek and hopping on rocks and trees. when i put my feet on top of the water and wondered what it would feel like to walk on it. playing the ukulele and singing while balancing on a tree trunk.
today there were also many times where i felt sad and like i was floating away again.
today we left the downtown eastside.
today we left the downtown eastside.”

leaving is always a strange thing. in less than three weeks, i’ll be leaving home for a whole five and a half months to study at a university in korea. to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like i’m leaving even though my plane ticket is booked and i keep getting e-mails from korea university telling me that my dorm room is ready for me and i can register for courses next week and orientation is happening in less than a month now. i tell everyone that i feel excited and nervous at the same time, but when i really think about it, i feel more like i did that day we left the downtown eastside. full of pondering, full of unidentifiable emotion, void of any other sound besides the beating rhythm of one repeated sentence inside my head: i’m going to korea! i’m going to korea! i’m going to korea!

i joke a lot that i’m always leaving because i travel so much and it’s true in a way i am, but in another way i feel like i never really leave because it’s like all the places i’ve ever been and all the people i’ve ever met paint their fingerprints over my soul so no matter where i go i never fully leave where i’ve been because it’s a part of me now. i used to picture a soul (abstract as it is) like a ghost, the halloween kind where kids throw a white sheet over their head and run around and smack into walls because they forgot to cut out holes for eyes, but now i think a soul is not transparent or bedsheet like. i think maybe a soul is covered in tattoos of the story that its lived.

i’m leaving but not leaving and i think if my soul had tattoos one would be of an alleyway garden that never stops growing. less than three weeks and counting.

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