Despite the moments lived and spent, the need to write always returns to my mind with time. The weekends this summer are booked full, evenings between filled with dinners with friends and errands, weekdays of good work at the soft, steady new job. As of a few months ago, I work where women’s vulnerability, healing, and love for each other is at the centre of the organization. Fittingly, these virtues also centre my life.
I’ve noticed exhaustion, hugs, and feelings. I’ve sat on beds with wine glasses and family, as I did last summer with friends. Over the years, I’ve sat on many beds and couches with relatives, noting intergenerational similarities. My siblings and I compare ourselves to my mother and her siblings, five of us falling in a line the same order as them, then forget we’ve done it and do it again next year when we’re all together again.
Perhaps I get along better with my family than I did when I was a teenager, and perhaps the distance has only fooled me into thinking I do. My mother says she moves less, does less physical labour as she grows older, recovering from the illness she had last year. Downtown Vancouver at my favourite restaurant, my little brother, a bright and optimistic teenager, asks me how he could be a better ally to women.
I’ve done my spring cleaning. I’ve let go of many things, people, and situations that weren’t serving me. I’ve come into a summer where I’m respected and loved by myself and those surrounding me. I’ve navigated many situations with grace and sincerity.
I’m finding the courage to ask for what I want, even when I don’t get it. As many do, I worry that by longing and searching for romantic love, I won’t find it. I wonder if I’m too confident and insecure at the same time. I wonder how all the people I know getting married this summer found it.
In many ways, this is a summer of subtleties, soft and holy. I’m making a point to visit the beach more than last summer. When I was little, I always wanted to live by the ocean.
Now I’m blooming, like the garden my upstairs neighbours helped me plant. I’m dosing myself in oils and cleansers, moisturizing. I’m coming into my own a confident, soft woman, strength found in the subtleties I encounter. The summers here are very beautiful and holy; so am I. The summers here are peppered, vibrant with the sound of music in the streets, the mountains draped behind us. The summers here are hot and cleansing, burning off unnecessary pieces.
Letting go of people, I’ve spent a lot of time wishing they’d see things from my perspective. I’ve spent hours wishing I could change their minds, make them see, learn, and do better. I can’t, and I’ll likely never be able to.
I’m aware of the emotional labour required by the women, LGBTQ+ people, the other marginalized groups who sit by, comforting and signalling to each other when we’re in danger. We warn and stand up for each other. Even then, those that hurt us don’t change. In church on sweaty summer Sundays, we pray for politicians to seek peace; it isn’t hard to guess which politicians we’re praying for. Over restaurant tables, pints of locally brewed beer between us, my friends and I pray similar, more conversational prayers for those who hurt us to learn from their mistakes.
I mourn when I’m no longer able to handle the emotional labour of being around a person that hurt me, my friends, or my community. I’m sad I wasn’t able to hold onto them or teach them what they taught me about the kindness and patience they didn’t extend. Yet I cherish the love and connection between women abused by the same man, between people harmed by the same force. It is incredibly intimate and unshakably holy.
Strong and vulnerable, women uniquely encourage and empower each other. When queer women wear bracelets and earrings with rainbows and pink-purple-blues, we notice our colours on each other. We know, like the subtle holiness of a Vancouver summer, that we can trust one another.
I ask God to help me seek a gentle, comfortable balance between confidence and humility. I walk through this tranquil summer as I did the last: head held high and very warm, inside and out.