If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now

IMG_8624I wake up looking at an alternate universe. At the time I was deciding where to go to college, it was one of the biggest & most stressful decisions of my short life. I’ve survived, chosen, and found a lot more bravery and great experiences since then.

The night before college decisions were due, I was pacing the grocery store aisles in a nervous fervor, unable to choose between UBC and CalArts, trying to decide not just who I was and what I wanted, but who I was and wanted to be in the future. I chose well, I had amazing experiences and the challenging, experimental, break the rules and design your own path world of CalArts fit me well. I wouldn’t change much about my college experiences at CalArts and on foreign exchange (though I regret not finding time in my jam-packed schedules to join Gamelan).

But yesterday, on the Vancouver ferry crossing, I see downtown & Stanley Park, North Van, and the peninsula where the University of British Columbia sits. I had a feeling of home, so intense and so loving, only, I never did live here. I also understand the swelling feeling that there could be a very different me living there had I chose differently. Who would this alternate universe version of me be? Where would I be now? The thought grips me.

For a moment. But, instead of wondering about all the ways I would have changed, and where I would be now, I realize, I’m okay with not knowing who that alternate universe me would be. I’m confident that I’m the best version of me, and I want to keep having more experiences, not bemoan the ones I haven’t. Now, I think of the ones I haven’t–yet! had, but want to. I look forward, not back. I don’t regret.

As I gaze across the water, straight ahead lies the Vancouver peninsula UBC rests on. I know that one day, I would like to try my hand at living here, not because of what I missed out on before, but because of what can lie ahead. I don’t need a multiverse, I need one really, really good run.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Magic

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I write this from under the stars in Death Valley. I’ve always been drawn to the stars, as a child counting down every space shuttle launch, answering “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with, “The first person on Mars.” And even if I hadn’t been listening to Commander Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth as I drove here, I have no doubt that my first impression upon getting to the campsite would have been the stars.

They’re innumerable. The sheer sum is overwhelming, in a sublime, jaw-dropping way. They confirm your insignificance and leave you speechless, yet dare you to wonder and ask what meaning you can have. I’m humbled by them.

Serendipitously (a word of particular significance for me), I’m not the only one here. As a couple people immediately responded to me, I’m not the only one to have tweeted about the stars. Teller, too, is here.

“I’m in Death Valley beginning to celebrate my birthday. Who would have thought there were so many stars?” (x)

I am in no small way a fan of magic, and love Teller’s work. His Tempest was amazing. His work with Penn, from the Vegas shows, to his interview in Penn’s Sunday School, Fool Us–I dig him. I want him to be my Giles and teach me magic from large tomes with reverence and skill.

I had the chance to meet him for one of his iconic post-show selfies. In a quick exchange I doubt he remembers, but has stuck with me, I asked him about immersive theatre, citing how much I adored Tempest and longed to live in that world. He told me how he enjoys current immersive theatre trends, and thinks it’s a necessary direction to grow. However, he said magic is extremely difficult and not suited to those settings, for timing, angles, and a captive audience is so integral to the art.All these things truly are. And yet. I struggle to believe that magicians, the people who I have felt such joy, wonder, overwhelming desire, and longing at prestidigitations of–couldn’t solve that.

I know that magic & immersion go hand in hand. I know the sleights, the trust, the deceit, and the wonder can only fuel each other. It’s what draws me to both. And while it is a challenge, for the reasons Teller mentioned and many more, I long to work the problem.

I know that what draws me to magic and to immersion is like the stars–fascination, desire, meaning, and awe.