Coming Home for the Journey

Re-entry used to be the worst.

That moment careening through the mountains when you realize you are headed home towards the flat prairies. You are headed to the place you live, where beaches are replaced by the Mall. Where pleasure reading is replaced by reading the bulging bills in the mailbox.

At home, you’ll be doing laundry for days. You’ll be scrounging for food until you can make it to the grocery store, since you threw everything fresh and good out or ate it on the drive to paradise. 

At home, you’ll be going to bed too late and waking up too early to work again too soon, seeing as how you squeezed every last moment of sweetness out of this vacation.

This used to be my story. I used to feel a hollow terror in my chest as I headed backward to home. But not lately. Not this time. 

When it comes to vacations, home is no longer a four-letter word. Well, it is, of course, but you get my point. Last night I wasn’t feeling terror upon return. I was feeling wistful. Hopeful. Ready.

It was a good holiday and I rested. But I think it’s more than that. I think it has more to do with what is waiting for my return, than what I’m leaving back there on the blissful west coast. 

There’s this little life we’ve built. The blessed imperfection of the water flow in our showerhead. The imprint of my body in our mattress. The way our front lawn tries so hard to be grass. All of it is a king’s welcome. 

There’s this city itself. I’m coming home after visiting Vancouver and Seattle and Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. By some miracle, I don’t feel envy. I feel pride. Pride in what Edmonton is and what Edmonton is becoming. Crazy, I know. But I’m giving up trying to justify my love for this place. Something, at some point, injected itself into my veins. It doesn't make sense to love a land-locked blue-collar town. I know. But this City of Champions is in my blood, and I’m not sure there is a cure.

Sure, there is a certain greatness I could point to. The entrepreneurial heart. The incredible food scene. 

We’ve got some pretty darn impressive architecture in the downtown, and we're getting more. Space Needle aside, Seattle’s downtown felt pretty bland. Even the EMP Museum, designed by Frank Gehry himself, didn’t focus on the building itself once you entered. There are no windows. No altered vistas that our own Art Gallery of Alberta offers, designed by Gehry’s protegé Randall Stout. There are no green spaces in Seattle either. Or if there are, we didn’t stumble upon them. Nothing like our river valley ribbon–always blocks away from the silver and gray of commerce.

But I don’t need to compare. That’s not the point. If I play that game I’m sure to lose against the vast beaches of Vancouver or the other-worldly mesas of New Mexico. 

Grand spectacles are not the point. I was reminded of this, walking my way in the dark to the grocery store to buy milk last night. I live so close to downtown, and for cheap. It’s safe, and believe you me, compared to most of where I’ve been it is oh, so clean. 

It’s the unassuming, understated beauty I love about this city. All of these things that look flat in a tourism brochure just shine in my heart. 

You can’t really understand a city this way unless you live somewhere. Unless you spend some of your life there. And yeah, that means you give away parts of life you will never get back. But as Dylan said, you gotta serve somebody. You gotta spend your life in some direction or another. There’s not a tourist attraction in the world that will make up for rootless drifting. I was reminded of this taking in the breathless and brief flash of Jimi Hendrix's life at the EMP Museum. You need a home.

You can say my vision is distorted. I’m seeing this place–this city–through rose-coloured glasses. I’d argue that the glasses are likely orange and blue, but otherwise you’re right. The distortion is my point. 

Once you see anything, or anyone, through the eyes of love, your vision changes. And that’s a good thing. You see things better. Rightly, I reckon. Not just with the eyes, but with the spirit. Maybe a little more like Jesus sees. 

I am home now, standing on the shining shores of fall. I cannot wait to begin another chapter of the Bleeding Heart Art Space. 

Our first show, Adam Tenove's Forgotten Places, might just have a connection with the Sacred Small I’ve been talking about here. We'll get to share it with more guests than ever thanks to the Kaleido Festival.

This is the year we become official. A Society in provincial law. We’re 'leaving the nest' of the church that’s given us our umbrella beginnings for the past few years. We’re getting our own bank account. All of that exciting administrivia. But I’m home now and I'm ready for it. 

We’re going to need help. Volunteers. Donors. Dreamers. Artists. People who've been around the world and back and know that this is the time, and this is the place, to create space for art, hope, faith and love.

Now that we're all home, who's ready for a journey?

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