I used to live in Toronto. The circumstances of my brief relationship with that city were difficult. I was being refined, yes, but most of it hurt like hell. Most of it felt like I was looking at myself under a giant magnifying glass. Every flaw, even the small ones, seemed insurmountable. It was painful learning to see myself so honestly.
During this time, I had few possessions that were exclusively mine. I lived communally--moving frequently from one apartment to the next, carrying almost nothing with me. Moving into spaces I did not own and could not easily adopt. Changing places with the weeks and wind. If you know me, you know that the details of this arrangement were in themselves painful ones.
During this time, I had one blue bowl. I carried it with me like permanence. The hollow shadow carrying bits of myself into safety. It was a refuge of sorts. A touch point in the sea of unfamiliar things, spaces, surroundings. It was for that time, my home. Almost everything I ate came in that blue bowl. Cereal, rice, noodles, soup, potatoes. All warm servings of nourishment and two kinds of comfort.
Once, in winter, it got so dark, I couldn't breathe. The girl I lived with was a companion not of my choosing and she carried darkness around in her pockets. It spilled out little by little until I was consumed. Lonely and strangling, I woke in the night to find it snowing. All the world was quiet. The snow fell and stuck to the pavements like light wings. In the quiet, I warmed milk and poured it into the blue bowl. I sat by the window crying and watching the snow. My cold hands wrapped around the warm quiet of the blue. The blue warmed my hands. The milk inside warmed my stomach. The snow, the quiet, the milk, the bowl punctured the darkness. I felt pieces of the great weight lift off and fall away.
The time in the city did not relent. The darkness stilled moved around me and with me, but wasn't as heavy and kept its distance. I carried the blue bowl home in my suitcase. It had weathered my journey so well; feeding both my body and my self. When I unpacked at home, the bowl was cracked clean through. Two halves, unrepairable. I sat with both halves in my hands and let a new quiet fill in the spaces of a new place more permanent. A new refuge. A new quiet.