February 16th in pictures.

I walk into town with the intention of going to church. I make it to the bus stop and then decide that I’ll go to Dane John Gardens instead. My hair feels light and it dances about my head in the soft breeze. I go up to the Dane John Mound, I am surprised by how beautiful Canterbury is. I send this photo to a friend and remain on the mound for a while.

DSC_0164Soon I am surrounded by tourists and as it’s getting chilly I decide to leave. I walk along the wall and stop to look back at Dane John Gardens.DSC_0165I cross the bridge, walk past the bus station and head towards Burgate – it’s one of my favourite streets. I really like walking down that street, especially after it rains. I walk towards the Cathedral and stop to admire a window, just because. Two children are racing each other beneath it so I wait to take my photo, I don’t want to ruin their game.

DSC_0166The way the sunlight falls on the window and the little balcony is lovely. I continue down Burgate towards the Buttermarket where I find out that the Cathedral Café is opening on February 18th! I have high expectations of that café, it used to be a Starbucks but they closed. The rooms are beautiful. I go into the Cathedral and find that there is a service going on. There are no chairs in the nave, just how I like it.

DSC_0168There are a couple of chairs near the choir, I sit down to listen to the sermon. I find it somewhat discouraging; the priest talks a lot about “holy living”, about how we must show good outward behaviour and inner integrity. But he talks as if it all depends on us. I argue with him in my head, what if you feel you can’t control your emotions? What happens when you’re depressed, suicidal, angry? I wait until the end of the sermon but sadly he doesn’t say that there’s room for messiness. I think about Jesus and how his love for me doesn’t change, even when I’m not well-behaved and when I’m angry, cynical and an emotional mess. Down in the crypt I write a prayer on one of those post-its they have and leave through the side door. I walk out through the back to admire the Roman ruins for a while…

DSC_0173I’m beginning to get hungry so I eat a banana while balancing the camera to take photos of the houses in the precincts.
DSC_0175They are so beautiful! I go out of the main gate and turn right. I walk down Sun street and left behind Debenhams. The Salvation Army is playing hymns outside Costa, whose terrace is very busy. I decide to go into the Beaney, a library and museum. I go upstairs to my favourite room…
DSC_0178where I take photos of frames…

DSC_0180DSC_0192  Because I like frames…DSC_0185

I really, really like frames.DSC_0183DSC_0179

I also think the arrangement of the paintings is nice…it must be the blue wall, I have a soft spot for blue.

DSC_0190 There is a pretty little sculpture on display.

DSC_0191After that I visit some of the other rooms and make sure I rush by the one with all the stuffed animals and dessicated butterflies – they’re torture for me!  Downstairs I stop by the room where they do itinerant exhibitions and take a peek at the sunlight coming through the window behind the white panel…

DSC_0193…only to realise that there are drawings and writing all over the panel and the window!

DSC_0194It’s hilarious. But once I’m outside I realise that one of the employees is cleaning all the writing off the windows, she must not be very amused. The Beaney from outside:
DSC_0197The sky is so beautifully blue! I continue my way towards Westgate and decide to make a detour down Stour street. But first I photograph the facade of Boho – a place that many people have recommended and I have refused to try, that’s how stubborn I am.

DSC_0201Boho is next to one of my favourite buildings in Canterbury but I keep trying to get a good photo and none of them do it justice. I think the fascinating thing about the building is letting it surprise you when you walk on Best Lane towards the High Street. There is a moment between the Olive Grove and the Oxfam shop where the building just jumps at me and I realise how beautiful it is and wish that it wasn’t home to Prezzo and Chimichanga…they just kill the mood. In Stour Street I am ambushed by a crowd of teenagers who speak German and have decided to take photos of the dirty phone booths, it makes me chuckle. I decide that it’s time to take a few last pictures and walk home. DSC_0202-cropI have loved this street lamp since the first time I saw it. It looks gorgeous against the purple sky at twilight. I stop at the bridge to look at the river.

DSC_0205I wish Greyfriars Gardens were open. I walk across the bridge and decide it’s time to go home.

DSC_0208

Walking.

Bustling streets;
you rush
though there’s plenty of time,
you’re not meeting anyone in 10 minutes.
Nobody’s telling you to hurry
yet you speed up,
dodging tourists that stop
at every corner
to take pictures of the sights.
They pour out an endless stream of opinions and random facts about this place.
You try to walk past them.
Quickly.
Nervously.

It’s so painful to walk sometimes!

You gather impressions:
People eat, love, laugh, argue…
You rush.
Because somehow they will notice
that you want to walk slowly,
that you want to take your time
in getting where you want to be.
And that is outrageous!

I have to move,
I have to go.
Go, go, go!
There is no time.
I’m late.
I’m always late.
I’ll be told off if I slow down.

They will say:
hey you! Schiet op! Don’t slack!
Get over it already, it happened years ago!
Your body is fine, use those legs!

There is no time, you think.
Somebody is watching
and making the clock tick faster,
louder.

As you try to keep up
you grow thorns
and curl inward.

You speed up
trying to get it sorted.

Until one day
you fall.

On the ground you remember:
It is OK to walk slowly.
You might need help for a while.
It is OK to walk slowly.
Some people won’t understand but
it is OK to walk slowly.
And some people will remind you that it is OK.
It is OK…

– Yessica Dædalus, 2013

My true colours.

Soaked in black, comfortable.
Just a hint of pink – a pink detail.
Discreet.
Short hair, pink lips, brown eyes –
soaked in black on a foggy day,
the sound of a banjo in the background.

Soaked in black
I find my true colours.
Wide, curious eyes behind
square frames
thirstily searching
for beauty.

Wrapped in mist
I wander from town to town
in this strange country
that feels like home – sometimes.

This strange country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Yessica Dædalus, 2013

‘Home again, home again…’

Home again, home again
One day I know I’ll feel home again
 
“Where are you from?”
Oh, that dreaded question! I get it all the time, who doesn’t? Those who know me know that I don’t have a straightforward answer. It always goes something like: “I was born in Ecuador, but I’ve lived in a few other places”. This has led to people’s confusion regarding my origin. I’ve had friends ask me – several months after meeting me – to repeat the story because they’d never really got it. Some assume I’ve lived in England for a very long time and are surprised when I don’t know a TV show or a British celebrity that everybody seems to have heard of. Others have suddenly become more interested in me upon hearing the words ‘South America’, who knows why! Many think I’m Spanish, full stop.
 
Sometimes I find it hilarious that this seemingly insignificant question, which for most people falls into the category of ‘small talk’, raises such profound concerns for me. Amusement aside, when somebody asks that question I feel like they’re asking me to open the door to a rather untidy and dusty cupboard that I don’t really want anybody to see. It almost feels like they’re prying. But they’re not, of course they’re not. It would be unreasonable for me to expect people not to ask that question, I do it too! My discomfort at this question – and others such as: “Are you going home for the holidays?” – is very particular to my experience. I grew up in 3 different countries, learnt several languages and met many interesting people in the process. This might not be much in comparison to other people, say ‘MKs’ or an ambassador’s family. However, I’ve realised that most of my issues with questions about home and origin stem from the shifting sand that was family life. Many people who have grown up in different places still have a strong sense of belonging to their family, that’s where they’re from; ‘home’ is where their family is. That is not the case with me. The reasons are not relevant to this piece.
 
Many times I’ve wished that I had a place where I belonged, and old family house somewhere in the countryside, or a city that I could claim as ‘my hometown’. I’ve also wished that my experience of family had been different. I’ve wished to have something, or someone, that I could call home, without further explanation.
 
On New Year’s Eve 2011 I was waiting for a friend at the airport in Madrid and I wrote the following:
 
Reflecciones de fin de año: This year has been good. My feet are firmer in the truth, and though a thousand little and huge fears surround me, I know there’s a safe place to be. I think I’ve found home at last, and it really doesn’t depend on where I am geographically. Anywhere can be home as long as you are with me.
 
The ‘you’ in the last sentence refers to God, Yahweh. As I sat there I remember the joy I felt at that realisation; real, profound, transforming joy. It wasn’t gladness, though I smiled. It was more like seeing a sunrise and being overwhelmed by its beauty. It was like the beginning of something, a sort of hope that transcends my barriers and sinks deep into my being. I can imagine it sinking. It’s small, yet strong, and it stretches me as it makes its way deeper and deeper. Surprisingly, joy and hope sink deeper when life looks grim and miserable. When I feel foreign and isolated, when I raise my hands in anger because life seems unfair to me and those around me, I can sense joy sinking deeper and I hear whispers of hope.
 
As Michael Kiwanuka sings ‘home again, home again…’ I feel homesick, I long for a place that I haven’t seen, a place that is nowhere to be found, though I hear it echo in the beauty of this world.  
And the tears will clear
Then I’ll feel no fear
Then I’d feel no way
My paths will be made straight
 
 
 
– Yessica Dædalus, 2012