Names and Faces

SleepI see your face
I know it
I remember your name
and all the meetings we had across the desk in the back office
or over Tim Hortons
and the walks we took into town to do things like
renew your service card
and the walks back
Back to what?
You’re still here, on the street

I run into you on the sidewalk one day
You have a job!
You once told me that you had only two emotions:
happy
and
angry
But right now you seem joyous
even exuberant
You have your child back and a safe apartment to live in
I’m so glad you stopped me to tell me

I don’t remember your name
But I do remember your face
and I remember your story
How could I forget?
You trusted me with your trauma
and I hope that I was able to hold it for you
even for a little while
You’ve had a rough life
I pray that things have gotten better
but when I see you on the street I fear they haven’t

You popped into my new office
at the church
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been in a church before
and I am really sorry that I wasn’t there that day
I love catching up every time I run into you

I remember your name –
oh do I ever. We spent a lot of time talking –
and I remember your child’s name
I have seen the two of you walking downtown
(he has grown a lot!)
and so I wonder
how things are going now…
Are you back together?
Have you gotten clean like you wanted to?
How is school going?
But your eyes slide across my face without recognition
so I don’t stop you to ask

I see your faces
all of them
I wish I could remember all of your names –
though maybe that is more about me wishing I could do more
than remember
and pray
and hope

 

Publication!

I did some writing last summer, though not for school.

One piece that I wrote over the summer is getting published in a book this spring! Its a short essay I wrote that is, essentially, a theological reflection on the work I used to do in emergency shelters in BC. It will be published in the book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor which is set to come out mid April (though the amazon page says mid-May).

The book has come out of a community of women who’s wisdom I have appreciated, the Rev Gal Blog Pals. I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting some of them as we get closer to publication. I’m also really looking forward to reading everyone’s essays in the book!

You can see more about it on the Publisher’s page (Skylight Paths Publishing), or on Amazon.

I’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available about its publication date and so on.

Boxes

I’m in the process of boxing up my life to prepare to move. The process of going from the order of my lovely little home to the chaos of packing is a little unsettling and I’m looking forward to taking this chaos and unpacking it to order when I get to London.

All of my furniture has been sold or spoken for.  My dresser is gone and my clothes and linens are in two large totes on the floor in its place. My armchair is gone. The bookshelves went in a “bookshelves for boxes” trade with some friends who moved a few months ago but needed shelves for their books. My bed is gone and I’m camped out on my very comfy thermarest. The couch will go in two weeks and then I’ll have nothing left but boxes.

Spare moments are few and far between right now, with most of them taken outside of my house: partially because of the sunshine and partially because being at home seems to mean needing to pack.

***

I’m at the library right now. Well, I’m sitting right outside because I overheard staff talking about a fire drill at some point today and I thought I’d rather sit in the sunshine and use the wifi than have to pack up and move mid-way through something if the drill were to happen. There is a distinct odor of urine around me that I hope I haven’t sat on top of. I’ve seen a number of my clients walk by and passed even more on my way to the library. The way that they and I interact in public, while largely driven by them, is yet another set of boxes. Sometimes we exist in completely distinct worlds and frames and there is no acknowledgement of the other. Sometimes, like yesterday, we’ll run into each other downtown and walk a block together, talking and enjoying the day, before going our separate ways.

I get to go home

I ran into three of my past and current clients at the grocery store yesterday. The grocery store just blocks from my house.

On my way to church or to the pharmacy I pass by another church, one with a large overhanging porch. Every night there are people sitting there, all wrapped in sheets and blankets.

As I was walking home from the pharmacy this afternoon, I passed that place and reflected back to an exchange I had just before leaving work yesterday. I went to talk with someone, as they requested, minutes before I was due to leave. On realizing that our discussion was going to take longer than I had, I asked if I could defer it until the next day or if they would mind speaking with one of my co-workers. They got really upset, a “what good are you to me” kind of upset. But I have learned that if I do not set boundaries, I could very easily be there all day and all night working with people.

It hits me every day: I get to go home. I go to work, spend eight hours working with people to find housing, deal with past (and current) trauma, or overcome addictions, and then I get to go home to my warm home, cook a meal I want to eat, and then curl up in my bed. I get to go home.

New Classmates, Dentists, and Sunshine

What do the above have in common?

Nothing, actually, that I know of. I just encountered all today, in reverse order of the title.

The day began with a trip to the dentist. It was time for my annual check-up and I made sure the hygienist was aware of the molestation my gums have received in past visits. Result: I left without sore or bleeding gums, plus a new toothbrush and floss. She was new, which may account for her being a little easier on me, but apparently whatever I am doing is working because I got high praise all around and even managed to get in a plug for my favourite, natural toothpaste (no more chemicals for me, thanks, especially after reading stuff here.)

Then, it was coffee down near Cadboro Bay with a friend. The sun was shining, it was warm hot, and we sat outside. I only just managed to wait the requisite 30-45 minutes after fluoride for eating/drinking.

After a couple hours in the sunshine, it was a short bike ride to meet a new classmate. A girl in Victoria (who is friends with some friends of mine – small world!) just started my program, so we had tea and chatted about our backgrounds, what we want to do with our degrees, challenges of the program, and random other psych-geek stuff. It was pretty great.

Now, I’m at home. I’ve been at home for a few hours. I have not accomplished any homework. But, the sun is shining, the Habs are still in the playoffs, I’m going to Vancouver tomorrow for a birthday party, and I just drank a fruit smoothie: all is right with the world.

BC Day (and the last week)

Happy BC Day! Today British Columbia celebrated 150 years. Of what, I’m not sure. Canada hasn’t even been a country for that long, but the land has been around much longer than that. I think it is 150 years of being a British Colony. Because time begins when Britain makes you a colony.

Enough of that.  Here is my week in review:

Purden Lake, where we stayed the night before driving out to Edmonton from Prince George. Colleen’s sister has a cabin here. Very nice! It would have been ever better had we had time to enjoy the things one can do there, like getting out on the lake! Next time.

On the drive… Mt Robson!

To Edmonton we go for Carlynne’s wonderful wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and the reception was lots of fun. I had a great time catching up with people I haven’t seen in at least a year, most more.

I flew back to Victoria from Edmonton because I knew I wouldn’t have time to drive back down to Vancouver and then get over to Victoria to get in the van to drive up to Port Hardy to get back on the boat. Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it! This is flying into Vancouver where I had a 2 hour layover. The fact that I had to wait 2 hours wouldn’t have been too bad except for the fact that there were  approximately 5 flights for Victoria that left between the time when I landed and the time my flight was. Why they couldn’t have put me on one of those, I don’t know.  I tried to change my ticket, but I had checked luggage. Speaking of which, Air Canada has gotten even stupider and now charges you if you have more than 1 checked bag. One more good reason to fly WestJet.

Finally, Victoria! I had time last night to set up my new room.  There were a few things I still needed to pick up this morning (like hangers), and there are still a few modifications to be made, but here is where I sleep and hang out when I’m actually in town.  (Janis, if you’re reading this, yes, this is your old room!)

TV room – room you walk into from outside.  Roommate’s TV, not mine. Large collection of DVDs on left, his. Smaller amount on right, mine. The three closest to the middle on each side are the same: Lord of the Rings, Extended Edition. At least we have some similar tastes!

Kitchen, as seen from TV room.

In my celebration of coming home last night, I heard from one of my friends in town and she told me there was a sweet concert going on tonight at the Legislature.  Upon further research, I discovered there were lots of things going on at the Legislature today. So, after doing all the things that needed doing this morning, I headed down for noon to see what was going on. It seems that BC Day is a pretty big deal. Who knew? There were about 8 MPs, an MLA, a mayor, a Premier, and a Prime Minister all sitting up on the stage. I’m not sure why some of them, like Stockwell Day, were there (he needed a party to flash his grin at??), but it was fun none-the-less.  Gordon Campbell spoke first and introduced our mascots for the Olympics. A funny thing happened while he was speaking. A lady got up quite close to the front and started yelling at him for cutting down all of our forests. This old lady sitting near her apparently didn’t appreciate her comments because she got up and tried to slap the yeller. Next thing you know, there’s a full-on slap fight going on between them. It was fairly humorous.  There were a number of protestors who showed up during the speeches, but they, for the most part, got booed into silence by the crowd.

Next, our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, spoke. As bad as his french is, I liked it better when he attempted to speak french because none of the protestors seemed to understand him: they only booed when he spoke English (and I’m pretty sure I was in BC, not Quebec!).

Then, the next thing I knew, the Snowbirds are flying overhead. It was kind of freaky because I’ve never seen them fly that low before. I’ve also never seen them fly over a major city before – only over the prairies or large air fields. I was minorly hyperventilating the whole time. It was strange because they would periodically disappear behind buildings and then they’d come back for a fly over. It was quite a fun show though!

After that excitement, I wandered around town, reacquainting myself with Victoria after a 14 month absence. I got lunch, went in a few shops, visited my favorite coffee shop in town, and eventually parked myself with a book in the rose garden at the Empress.  From there, I could hear the sounds of bands playing at the Legislature – Alex Cuba, Burton Cummings… but I was comfortable in the shade.

I met up with my friend around dinner, we hit up a classic Victoria institution for dinner before heading back to the Legislature to take in the rest of the festivities. There were a couple more people there than there had been in the morning, but we managed to worm our way into the crowd and find decent spots to watch…
Sarah McLaughlan…

…and Feist.

I left before the show was done because today was a long day and the next month is going to be even longer. I head up to Port Hardy tomorrow to rejoin the boat and sail back around to Victoria. I’ll be home sometime around the end of August, beginning of September. Don’t expect to hear too much from me as there isn’t (shock, horror) Internet in the middle of the ocean. I know, its hard to believe. I don’t anticipate much cell reception either. I’m looking forward to getting back on the boat and spending time with some of my favorite people to sail to exotic places with. While this will be no Tahiti or Papua New Guinea, the west coast of the Island is some of the most beautiful and untouched landscape in all of Canada, if not the world. Maybe BC really is The Best Place on Earth.


PS – the concert will be broadcast on CBC on August 30, so you can relive all my fun then!