I'm trying to move to Nova Scotia and buy a small century-old house, which perhaps doesn't sound as momentous as it feels. It is a thing I always thought I would do when I 'grew up.' The house has a few qualities I always thought were childhood ideals - a window seat, grown trees in the backyard, and raspberry bushes threatening to take over everything. I keep waiting to be told that it's not real, that it not happening. Perhaps I'm not grown up enough. I know I'm changing my entire life and there are some moments I'm worried I'm changing too much, that I won't recognize my life.
The questions I asked myself at twenty are still burning and unanswered; only I have more of them now. I've had major surgery, went to university, got married, travelled, fucked on camera, swam in the ocean, and published a novel; I have said "yes, please," and "no." and "fuck.", I've said, "thank you may I have another". I have licked the sweat off strangers, ironed my sheets on a Friday night, taken out insurance, and cut up the plastic rings off soda cans. I've been a model, a writer, a stablehand. I've ridden horses and been in mosh pits. I've listened to heavy metal, jazz, fusion, prog, industrial, classical, opera, and grunge. I've smoked weed and hash, snorted coke and swallowed acid and MDMA. I've gotten drunk on beer, whisky, red wine and too much Champagne.
I've bled and cried and vomited. I've woken up with hangovers and done it all again numerous times. I quit drinking, quit smoking, quit jobs, quit cutting myself. I've read the Bible and Proust, I've read Shakespeare, I've read Austen, I've read Bulgakov. Pynchon, Murakami, Gibson, Capote, McCullers and mother fucking Brautigan. I've been in a head-on collision on a two-lane highway in a snowstorm; I've been stranded at a bus station in rural Newfoundland on New Year's Eve and a vanishing tidal sandbar in the gulf of Mexico. I've made love in the snow, I've made love in a pool, in the woods, in a car and on one. I've fucked in the kitchen, I've fucked in the living room. I've fucked in a stairwell, I've fucked in a bed, I've fucked in the middle of a field, under a tree, in a hunting blind, in the shower, in a bath, in a castle. I've helped a woman hang laundry in Shanghai and bought drugs from a cab driver in Rome. I have fallen in love.
And what am I anyway? What is anyone? When I say I am changing everything what does it mean change? I can say I lost an appendix and part of my intestine and a glut of blood in surgery, but it seems wrong to say that there is a thing I lost in addition to the appendix. After a child destroys a sandcastle, there is one less thing in the world, but no less sand. One can count wounds, but not blood. Split a large portion of water in half, and you have what you started with— water. Split your phone in half, and you will not be left with a phone or phones. How do you count the self?
The substance of change is elusive, and the self is complex and emergent. Even with all the supposed clarity of hindsight, change can feel fucking mystical. Creating a detailed, consistent narrative or explanation of the self is impossible. It is impossible to explain why anything or anyone happens. In the proliferation of life chromosomal pairs match and intertwine to make all living things. They pull, wrapped around one another like snakes. They get tangled, stuck together. And then, in biological violence of making another living thing, they rip apart. And anytime they rip apart, there is a risk that a chromosome will have an error. No matter how often I read about this, I'm completely shocked. Everything alive the planet resulted from this violent, volatile process prone to error. It seems like a miracle we are mostly whole at all.
Perhaps the point of life is not to achieve perfection; maybe nothing is perfect ever, and even if it is for a moment that perfection is always about to shatter. Fragility is the strength of life, the ability to change, to be only change. If life needs to break to exist, then all life is broken and changing is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway to life.
~ photos taken in Nova Scotia over the last few weeks of June & July