grief

spring forward, fall back

When my father died, I was in the middle of a punishing Toronto winter. Salt caked the bottoms of my shoes, my knuckles split from the dry air. It was my first one away from the West Coast, and I was unprepared both practically and emotionally (for the winter, that is – but I suppose also for death). The next morning I was on a flight home to Vancouver. As the plane took off, the man next to me immediately tried to pick me up. I told him my dad had just died. He persisted. When we landed for the layover he asked me if I wanted to go to the bar with him. A flight attendant found me hunched under a chair at the gate and asked me what was wrong. She booked me into a new seat for the next flight, sitting in a row by myself. As soon as the plane took off, a man moved into the aisle seat, spreading his legs so that his knee touched mine. I took off my parka and stuffed it into the seat between us.

It was spring in Vancouver. My friends were already waiting at my apartment when I arrived, ready with snacks and magazines and distraction. My eyes kept drifting to the open window, and so we went for a walk in our t-shirts and jean jackets. The cherry blossoms on Victoria Drive were raining sweet-smelling petals on the sidewalk. Cliché would have me had me believe in that moment that it was all a cruel irony, something along the lines of how-can-things-be-so-beautiful-when-life-is-so-unkind or perhaps if-only-he-were-here-to-see-this. But branches snapped, synapses misfire, somehow all I could quite get out is ‘look at that. Look at that.’

I was 28, half my father’s age, when he died. The symmetry of this young death set in motion this thought, this undercurrent, slow like sap – what if I were already halfway done? I was always an empath, but this part of me has been set on fire. I am constantly in a state of this relentless feeling of being alive, and if sometimes too numb to feel alive, at least consistently not dead. I am overwhelmed now by the colour green. Green like my eyes, which every person at the funeral took care to tell me are just like his. (For the record, my mother’s eyes are also green – but fathers’ contributions tend to eclipse mothers when they are sparse enough to be named). Green was in short supply when I returned to Toronto the next day.

And now, two years gone, the smell of spring is now tied to the bright horror of that day. So much of the memory is redacted that the final cut makes little sense – the boozy breath of the man on the plane; cherry blossoms falling on my friend’s upturned face; standing outside the bar crying with only a sweater on. I look for myself in the frame, but it feels like a soap opera where they replace an actor mid-season and hope no one will notice.

For every part of me that didn’t make it through that winter, something new has grown in its place. Something that is too new to fruit or flower, but is growing nonetheless. The dead parts I’ve shed are like things that grow and see their season pass before their utility is known – like chestnuts, like dandelion puffs, like fallen leaves. I itch and ache from these new appendages that have not yet shown me what they do. I feel it most in the spring.

It’s the harsh glory of the sun on subterranean winter eyes, it’s the splitting husks of bulbs making way for a mighty green shoot. It’s cherry blossoms crushed underfoot on pavement.

It hurts.

But look at that. Look at that.

Uncategorized

the wicked stage

 

This time last year, before a matinee of a holiday show, I could not stop crying. I had circled the block for half an hour, my precious pre-show time ticking away. I got close to the stage door and then had to crouch behind an electrical box, sobbing, while audience members already started to arrive at the theatre’s doors. When I finally made it in, I still couldn’t stop, wiping off tears to apply makeup, drying my eyelashes enough to glue big fake ones on top. At warm-up, a fellow actor asked if they could try something, and I said sure. They placed a hand on my back and closed their eyes. I imagined them pulling whatever it was that wouldn’t let me go out of my body and into theirs, and then casting it down into the stage, down into the earth. They shook it off. I stopped crying.

IMG_1990

In the last 12 months I had the privilege of spending over half of my year in rehearsal or performance, more than I’ve ever had before and more than I ever expect to have again. It had been two years since I’d been on stage. This was the life that I’d dreamed about as a kid, the immersive devotion to a life on stage. It’s harder in reality. The work of an actor is both romanticised and denigrated to the degree that it can become indecipherable when you go to talk about it. Stay grateful, but don’t be precious. Work your guts out but remember that it’s just a job.

Okay, sure.

To me, the work of an actor hinges on the vulnerability of shared imagination, building worlds, investing in them, believing in them and making them manifest. Working in a way that is at once intensely personal and relentlessly public, we try to craft something that is both delicate and durable, repeatable and spontaneous, generous and restrained. It’s impossible. If you don’t love failure, it will eat you alive. If complacency comes easy to you, you’ve doomed yourself to a Sisyphean nightmare of pointless repetition. Sometimes the delicate web of emotional investment and psychological believability is the essential ingredient in a show. Sometimes you just have to be loud enough and let your costume do the rest. The recipe is different every time.

And then there’s the reality of presence. Relentless physical and emotional presence with one another while tired, while sick, while hungry, while grumpy, while excited, while preoccupied, while stressed, while hyper, while sleeping, while sneezing, while coughing, while barfing, while menstruating, while pregnant, while grieving, while shaking, while sweating – it’s intimate, embarrassing, comforting and unavoidable. As I grow to know myself better, I realize that this is both what attracted me to this life, and the hardest part. Some are great at keeping their space. I’m not. Non-stop exposure to the lives and feelings of others leaves me feeling like a blown-out speaker sometimes. I’m still working on figuring out how to keep the volume low.

You have your tool kit – your body and mind – and fight off the lack of sleep, the proximity to communal bacteria and viruses, the struggle for healthy eating, the temptation of ‘decompressing’ late nights out, the repetitive physical activities, the exhaustion of community politics, the contagion of complaining, the fear of punishment, the anxiety of imperfection, and at some point you get yourself through the stage door in whatever state you’re in, and set down to work. This to me, is where thinking of the work of an actor as some mystical incantation to creativity is absolutely useless. This is where it feels like a trade: practical, skilled, pragmatic. Prepare the workspace and the tools, and get down to it. Because it’s not magic every day. Sometimes it’s humiliating, or boring, or annoying. Sometimes it’s like drawing blood from a proverbial stone (or making an audience believe you’re doing so, as a prop falls apart in your hands and someone’s cell phone goes off, twice). Sometimes it’s transcendent, miraculous, transporting. It’s often not. You will never know what it will be and why. You must love the mystery.

35F35630-C63C-4BED-85C0-6B57600C71A5

It’s the end of the year now. It’s quiet. I’m off contract and ready for some alone time. I have this particular feeling I get sometimes – like my skin is hot, like every set of eyes that looked at me this year as I sang or danced or cried or did whatever is still on me, every touch from quick changes and rehearsal hugs and onstage love is still pressed onto the surface of my skin. I’m so glad not to be acting for the next month. I can’t wait to get back to it.

Like all great loves, this one shifts with age, reveals new facets, asks to be proved worth it or not, renews itself over and over again. I have a photo of me at the stage door of the Vancouver Playhouse at 11 years old, shaking with nerves and excitement, waiting for the actors to come out. Dying to know what was on the other side of that door.

The mystery still lives.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Siminovitch Protégé Prize Acceptance Speech

 

I’d like to begin with some thank yous –

First off, to my family and in particular my mom, who has made this life possible for me.  To Jiv, the best person I’ve ever met at a theatre conference.

To my theatre family – my dear friends and collaborators – The Delinquents, the Matriarchy, and the incredible community in Vancouver who fuel me with their generosity and inspiration.

To Shawn MacDonald, who first named me as a playwright; Craig Holzchuh, who as Artistic Director of Theatre la Seizieme gave me my first commission as a playwright and opened many doors for me; Jessie van Rijn, whose relentless support has sparked many adventures. And, of course, Marcus Youssef, who I will speak about shortly.

I grew up on unceded Coast Salish territory, specifically the area that many call Vancouver.  As I travel more of this complicated country, I start to understand more and more how much the mountains and sea and sky have given to me.  From my heart, I thank the keepers of that land, the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations and the many nations of the Pacific Northwest for their long-time stewardship.  I am grateful.

This honour comes to me at a moment of precipice.

In the last few months, I’ve been haunted by one question every time I’ve sat down to write.

What could possibly be important enough?

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.  I feel like a radio receiver that’s too sensitive to hear just one thing.  And these are noisy times.  Every time I sit down to write, I hear amongst the radio static, a million SOS calls.  The sounds of justice denied.  Of plastic in oceans.  Of gunshots and lies.

And although I feel like my work is my life, it also sometimes feels impossibly small.  My mind, my heart, feel impossibly tiny.  These days, it seems like nothing between the pads of my fingertips and a keyboard could create something louder than a whisper.

And then I come back to this word, that I heard Marcus say once about theatre.

Communion.

Let’s be clear for a second – I’m a millennial and cynicism is basically a bodily function for us.  So the first time I heard Marcus say that word, I kind of gave a teen girl cringe because it was ohmygodsooooo hyperbolic and like so earnest, jeeeez.

Earnest. I’ve been described as earnest – mostly in a pejorative sense – for my entire life.  People seem to love to tell me that I’ll change, that I’ll give up, that I’ll start to see things the way they really are.  And so, much of my early writing had a protective layer of bleakness and cynicism.

Because to understand theatre – what we do – as an act of communion; an act that can restore and transform, and connect – is almost too beautiful to bear.

Working alongside Marcus – in addition to fueling neverending and (at least I think) hilarious millennial vs. Gen Xer jokes – has asked me to rise to a challenge.

To create the work like he has – his funny, surprising, poignant, messy, revelatory work – asks a lot of an artist.  To approach this work with an open, heavy, naked heart.  To see not simply the best or the worst of the world, but the complicated whole.

To believe that we can transform and restore ourselves through acts of communion requires more courage than cynicism.  It takes courage to believe that what is happening, right here, together, is important enough.

I feel now, growing in me, a sort of radical earnestness – I’m working on a manifesto but I’m too shy to share it.  So, I guess I’m not that radical yet.  But here’s what I know so far.

Earnestness is not naivety.

Earnestness can be hard won, and hard to protect.

Could I be so earnest to believe that we can write into existence worlds that are populated by all the kinds of people we know and love in our communities; that we can subvert power systems that silence and oppress; that we can listen through the radio static for sounds of humanity and hope?

Ohmigod, that’s like, almost enough to make me cringe.

Almost.

Thank you, Marcus.  Thank you to the Siminovitch family, for reminding me how important this work can be.

Thank you all.

Beginnings, grief

The Losing and Lost

IMG_0599

I walk swiftly out of a room and pause.

My finger tips twitch – like the tail of a cat, like typing on a phantom keyboard, like…

I walk back into the room and sit.

I

I

 

I was raised by my parents to question authority and institutions. Or rather – they modelled it, punk rock kids turned into uncomfortable adults, while as parents they encouraged me to play nicely in the world.  It’s taken me a few years into my own adult life to identify that sudden electric pulse of resistance that lights up my electrons every time I come across a rule, a form, a chain of command. I resist as a reflex.

You cannot argue with grief.  No matter how intrinsically counter-culture, no matter how self-designed a whimsical rogue you may be.  Cliches come, unbidden.  Everyone’s loss is unique, a matrix of circumstances between two people that create a singular chasm of said and unsaid, of regrets and triumphs, of questions unasked.  But grief visits in ways that are humbling in their universality.

It’s not necessarily what it looks like from the outside, per se, but the impulse.

Did you know there’s a ‘club’?  There’s a club.  They found me before I could recall whose battered membership card I have held for them on rough nights or intimate coffee dates.  Like battle-worn nurses in a triage ward, they stepped forward, hands on open wound, applying steady pressure and checking vitals.  I send texts.  “What’s happening to me?”  Mere minutes later they respond, always ready for the call: “You’ll see.”

I caught myself reading Hamlet on the beach.  Shakespeare, a true and steadfast friend.  Prose so visceral I had to put the book down and look at the thoughtless hot bodies parading on the beach, the exhausted, shrieking children wrestled by haggard parents, the fat seagulls feasting on abandoned fries. How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world.  But I’m not one for melancholy.  I rolled my eyes at the contrivance of turning to a famous dead father narrative for guidance.  I texted a member of the club, looking for a better role model.

I can’t decide if I look older or younger.

I make lists.  Is it a Virgo thing? I don’t know.  I’m an atheist and a brutal pragmatist, but these days I look up, out, anywhere but inside for some lists and some answers.  I buy plants and tend to their mysterious needs, watch their leaves reach for the sun, grow and fade.  I download an app that shows me the stars and crouch at my window looking for planets.  While trapped at work and spinning out, I make a list of things that I think I would like to do.

  • paint toenails
  • yoga video
  • read for 30 minutes

When I get home, I have forgotten making the list.  I lie on my carpeted floor and flip through Hamlet.

It keeps happening.  I find myself moving, full force, having just summoned the strength to stand and walk, with no idea where I’m going.  A perfect blankness of the mind as the body, a husk ruled by synapses, continues on its path.

Did I mention there are metaphors?  There are metaphors.

  • Plants: Helping living things to grow
  • Cleaning out belongings: letting go of the past
  • Astrology: finding a larger order to seemingly random events

There are more but they’re not coming to me right now.  Also, some of those are not metaphors.

For someone who makes a living from the things they say (either scripted and memorized, or painstakingly crafted) I’ve been wildly entertained by not being entirely sure what will come out of my mouth at any given moment.

I have a friend who I worked with years ago who would make jokes constantly about their late parent.  I found them funny and yet also inherently unnerving.  Never sure if they were an attempt at levity, a cry for acknowledgement, or a signal flare for help, I just made sure they knew I was listening, and laughed if I could.  Now in their shoes, I realize it’s a tough crowd out there. I am the orchestrator of the suspended drum fill, a creaky silence as my gallows humour swings confusingly in the social atmosphere.  A tip for future members of the club – making a dark joke and then yelling “but I’m fine!” is the worst possible way to end your set.

I was barely learning how to be, and now I have to do it all over again.  I don’t know anything anymore.  I don’t know how to write, how to make food, how to talk to people. Who to forgive, what to forget.  The script is blank.  The stage directions are crossed out.  I’m going from memory now.

I clutch old t-shirts.  I turn pictures face down.  I light candles.  I spend sleepless nights.  I cry to my counsellor.  I stay home.  I make lists.  Cliches follow me like the frame of a Hallmark movie, but I am one parent down and no longer afraid of being just like everyone else.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

I walk swiftly out of a room and pause.

I

I

I take a deep breath, and wait.

Uncategorized

Aqui, hogar, and other simple palabras

As soon as my feet hit the ground in Mexico, I have a panic attack. Curled up on top of my suitcase in the bathroom of the baggage claim, gasping for air, it takes me a long time to realize the urgent female voices I hear are talking to me.

“Estas bien? Estas bien?”

**

When I was 12, my friend went to England. I have wanted to go to London terribly, my whole life. The day she traveled, I stayed up until 3AM so she could call me from Heathrow just so I could hear the air over there. She held up the phone for me so I could hear the sounds of the airport. I was too excited to go back to sleep after.

I still haven’t gone to London.

**

I’ve google searched my way to a beautiful restaurant in downtown Calgary. I am by myself. They sit me at the bar, between two couples that have their backs turned to me and keep elbowing me unknowingly. I am served the best pasta I’ve ever had. I tell the bartender who is serving me that it’s fantastic. He can’t hear me over the sound of the martini shaker, and I’m too shy to repeat myself. I think about taking a picture of my plate, but it’s too dark and it doesn’t look like much of anything anyway.

**

I’m sitting alone, drinking a glass of white wine at an airport bar, conveniently located immediately facing the gate of my delayed flight. I have my sunglasses, wallet and passport on the table in front of me. The television is broadcasting updates on the Nigerian school girls, abducted from their towns. I put my passport into my jacket pocket and zip it closed.

**

As she leans over the kitchen counter at her home in East Van, my mom tells me that my abuelo used to drive every day from their home in El Paso to go work in Juarez, just on the other side of the US/Mexico border. Two days later, I board a flight, YVR to LAX that my dad must have done hundreds of times. Work, home. Trabajo, hogar.

IMG_8584

On our day off, we drive to the East LA apartment building where I grew up. I haven’t been here since I was 4 years old. Tentatively, we walk through the apartment compound and find the one that was ours – I don’t want to intrude on the current tenant’s privacy, so I take a picture of the outside of the building and we head out. Through a fence, I see a pool and memory shocks me like jumping into cool water. I only ever had one fuzzy memory of LA, and I’m suddenly looking right at it.

**

In LA I see fellow Chicanos evaluate me, choosing English over Spanish so I understand. Fair enough. I try not to take it personally.

**

On the first day of the festival, the facilitator asks us to imagine the stage as a map of the world, placing LA, Central America, Australia, China for reference. “Go to the place you call home,” she says. Hundreds of us go down to the stage, and it’s so densely packed that it’s impossible to tell where I’m standing.

**

After almost two years of frequent visiting, I finally have a dream about Toronto. I’m headed west along King Street, waiting to get off at Spadina so I can take the streetcar up towards Bloor. The dream is accurate and unremarkable.

**

Sometimes I can have a conversation in Spanish and it’s no problem. Sometimes, the words tangle up in my mouth and shame locks up every syllable. Often the person I’m trying to greet will switch languages. If they can’t, I apologize in any language I can muster, smile, and leave as quickly as I can. And sometimes with a good new friend the conversation flows freely, dancing easily back and forth across the invisible fronteras of language, meeting one another where we can make ourselves understood.

**

Whenever I arrive somewhere new, I have a routine. I open the window, if I can. Put lavender oil on the bedspread. Turn on the lamps and turn off the overhead lighting. Open my phone and start my white noise app. I will try to text someone at home, but the time zones almost never work out.

**

We’re in Puerto Morelos, a small beach town hidden between two major tourist centres on the Yucutan Peninsula. We’re sitting at a plastic picnic table outside and I’m chatting with the restaurant’s server and chef en Español, while my boyfriend holds my hand and looks over my shoulder at the stray dogs playing on the sidewalk. For the first time in months, I can breathe. My heart feels like a raincloud, heavy and full.

**

I text my friend.

Me, 8:56 PM: I’m really, really ready to come home.

Her, 8:58 PM: Where?

**

The last day before leaving is always strange. Permeated with an urgent finality, the place appears to me vivid, iconic, crystalizing into instant memory. The past leaps up to meet my foot with every step, bending time zones and timelines to create a dizzying déjà vu of alternate lives. “You were always here,” some part of me says. “Where do think you’re going now?” I look at my watch, check in for my flight exactly 24 hours before. Get on my hands and knees and feel under the hotel bed to make sure nothing is left behind. On his million trips there and back, my dad would often bring me a present. I try not to accumulate too much stuff, though. I have to carry my home with me.

IMG_8879

Uncategorized

The Intermission

 

all is calm
all is bright
 

I keep having vivid dreams about fires and floods.  Everything is gone.  I see the end of our world in eerie detail, and I’m immersed in the immediacy of coping, of decisions and priorities.  I see Vancouver, in particular, subjected to some immense catastrophe – but we are calm and orderly, deeply afraid but focused on the task of survival.  When the horror of the situation finally dawns on me, I wake up.

There’s a constellation of thumbprints on my heart.  One for every worry, big or small.  They show up, echoes in my subconscious magnified into devastating nightmares.

They’re surfacing with increasing regularity, because in a lot of ways I feel like these fears are coming for me now.  For us.  The undercurrent of dread in our part of the world and beyond is tangible – and I don’t need to remind you why.  It feels like we’re at the end of Act One of the sweeping drama of our times.

But we can’t be surprised, really.  We were told everything at the beginning, just like a prologue to a play.  We knew that we lived above our global means. We knew about inequality, about injustice. We knew that tremendous inequity kept us in strata.  There’s nothing surfacing now that no one saw coming.  But here we are, gasping as the curtain falls. 

 
through the years we all will be together
if the fates allow
until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow
 

So it’s fucking Christmas, and I don’t really know what to do with that.  I think about what gift I should get my mom, and then I go to sleep and dream about rotting corpses on Robson street.  I don’t really know what to make of the holidays, because in many ways it feels like a part of the big machine that is eating us alive, but also I guess they’re pretty nice too.    Still, I don’t know if we have the right to turn off the news anymore.  I don’t know if we have the right to keep buying new things we don’t need, wrapping them in paper and throwing it away.  I don’t know if we get to do that anymore. 

It’s intermission.  We’re in the lobby with our drinks and bathroom lines, talking to our dates and children and friends and spouses.  But the show will start again.

What happens in Act Two?

Tremendous acts of courage.  Startling revelations that leave everything changed.

Devastation.  Sadness.  Loss.

Hope. 

I don’t know what the next year will bring us.  I think I’ve read a script like this before, and I don’t like the way it ended.  So it’s up to us, now.

If any of this life that we have been given is to matter at all, we will need to be the heroes of this story.  The good people whose courage and resistance and love rewrite the narrative.  It has to be us, or it will have been for nothing.

Take the vacation time, the cookies, the gift cards, the awkward family dinners, the boozy house parties.  Make your heart strong, no matter how vast your constellation of worries.  That’s what this time is for.  Because we’ll need all the strength we can get. 

later on, we’ll conspire
as we dream by the fire
to face unafraid
the plans that we made

 

Stand up.  Act Two is about to begin.

Uncategorized

East Van Love Song

It’s 8am on Commercial Drive and I’m walking to the community centre when I realize halfway there that it’s Labour Day, and the pool will be closed. That’s fine. This becomes a morning walk instead. It’s uncharacteristically quiet, except for the hiss of the number 20 and some restaurant prep cooks blasting music so loud you can hear it from the street. I grew up on the Drive, and there’s no place in the world that feels as much like home. This was the neighborhood we landed when my family moved North from Rodney King-era East LA – away from the highways and riots and tucked into the quiet greenery of East 3rd Avenue.

I’m at the age now where if I close my eyes, I can tell you what things used to be as easily as I can tell you what they are now. I remember the little Vietnamese bakery where my friend and I used to buy 69 cent spring rolls, burning our fingers and tongues to eat them before they soaked through the paper bag they were delivered in – gone. I remember playing foosball at Joe’s Café with my friend and our dads, screaming ourselves hoarse and getting calluses on our palms from the cracked handles of the table – still there. I remember the exact moment, as a young teenager, that I walked past Café Roma and realized the men were looking at me in that way – still there, but different than I remember. And even now, the smell of chlorine, chocolate milk, and white chocolate raspberry scones are inextricably linked by years of afternoons at the pool for swimming lessons followed by a trip to Uprising Bakery. I am becoming a regular again at that same pool, swimming laps under the watchful eye of the tiger mural, unchanged from when I learned to swim two decades ago.

This is a community born from resistance. Early in the twentieth century, speculation failed here. The neighbourhoods instead filled with immigrants from Italy, Portugal, and later Vietnam, Latin America, and beyond. The sidewalks hum with banter in more languages than I can count. Next to posters of Fringe shows and big-name concert are pasted posters announcing protests, anti-oppression workshops, political actions. I remember the year that a Subway opened up (near Charles, if I remember correctly,) and I remember it shutting down, no competition for the real Italian subs available just across the street. But the chains are coming and staying now, each two-year-lifespan gastropub replaced by another one. The co-ops and subsidized housing that my classmates grew up in are threatened by the arrival of new and shiny condos. Gentrification. Inevitable – and yet to me, inconceivable in this scrappy corner of our increasingly homogenous city. I now live two blocks down from the house I grew up in, the one my family was renovicted from when I was a child. Sometimes I wonder if I am now part of the problem. But when I get a notice of a rent increase and my heart squeezes so tight time stops, when my roommate and I get our taxes back and fall to the floor laughing because we fall so far below the poverty line, I think no, not me. Then I look at the low-income housing across the street, and wonder if they’ve stopped laughing about it.

One night, as I lay in bed, I heard shouting in the street. First, the familiar intonations of a regular who walks the length of the Drive with his little dog, singing and speaking to himself. Second, the clicking of high heels and the cruel millennial bleat of a woman following him, mocking him, drunk and mean. Rage stiffened my body as I prepared to hit the streets and intervene, because some resistance comes with its fists up. And then: the man’s terrifying roar, then silence: the sound of heels clicking quietly away. This neighborhood knows how to defend itself.

image1 (1)

In the chilly morning air, I walk past the primary school where my mom helped our neighbor with 6 adopted and foster children walk to school, where my teacher first taught me to write my own books; I walk past the elementary school that collected giftcards and donations to help my family when our house burned down; I walk past the swimming pool where an instructor taught me to resist the urge to panic when I put my face underwater; I walk past a person sleeping on the street; I walk past a steel and glass storefront selling $80 throw pillows; I walk past an elderly woman in a track jacket going for a run; I walk past an old man smoking on the patio of the Italian coffee shop; I walk past a pile of wet abandoned clothes in the park; I walk past the spot where yesterday I ate tamales outside and listened to a man sing in Spanish, my heart quivering with blood memory; I walk past stores and homes that are, that were, and that will be.

This is what we’re fighting for. The unbelievable complexity of co-existence on this Coast Salish land that was never ours to begin with. Deeply imperfect, but essential all the same. With every force that seeks to make us fear the other and each other, to guard our resources, to get what’s ‘ours’, we resist. We fight for community centres and rent control, for our schools and shops. We fight oppression in all its forms. We are not all the same. We are not all fighting the same fight. But resistance lives in the met eyes of neighbors, in ‘good mornings’ and ‘do you need help?’ It lives in hot coffees for strangers and signed petitions, in your feet on the ground at protests and rallies, in solidarity. In the quiet streets of the Drive on Labour Day.