Poems and pictures

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Writing by Tori Dudys, photos by Janine Lameiras and Tori Dudys

I’ve decided to bite the bullet and post some poems, accompanied by trip photos as a method of luring friends to read my work. To be honest, I’ve always hesitated to even write poetry because I find it incredibly self-indulgent, but alas, travelling has turned me into an introspective, constantly-crying, emotional tool (I mean that in the most positive way possible). So here’s one I call “Desert”. Can you guess what it’s about? Please leave some constructive criticism for me since I have no idea what I’m doing!

 

Desert

A haze gleams in front of me,

I take a dry breath.

It’s hot out here and hard to move.

The sun weighs on me

And holds me in place like heavy chains around my neck

And limbs.

 

I slowly extend my arm

And move my fingers in front of my eyes so I know they’re still there.

It’s hard out here.

Moving through sandstorms alone and seemingly forgotten.

When I see it,

An oasis.

“It must be a mirage,”

I think.

 

It can’t be though.

It’s so real.

It’s there I can see it.

I can smell it.

I can feel the cool breeze rippling the water.

It makes me move faster.

 

I cling to everything about this spot in the distance,

The courage it gives me to keep moving,

Through this hopeless, lonely desert.

It gives me a purpose to keep going.

Something to aim for.

 

I’m so close, just a few more steps.

 

I reach it.

Water is around me.

I stick my toes in to make sure it’s real.

And it is.

My body instantly cools.

I dive in and feel the comfort of the icy waves

That wrap their arms around me in a welcoming embrace.

I drink it.

I drink the water.

It gives me new life.

I feel my lips curl into a smile.

I feel accomplished.

 

I get out of the water, and remove my clothes to dry in the sunshine.

Completely naked I bask in the breeze

And prepare to make this place my home.

Sheltered from the hot sand and burning rays,

I fall asleep,

Smiling and proud.

 

When I wake, my body is sore.

I’m sweating.

My lips, peeling.

Throat parched worse than before and grit lining the inside of my mouth.

My bare body is covered in scabs from burns and dirt from the sand.

 

For a short time it was so real.

But it was all just a mirage.

It did save me though,

For even just a few moments,

From the desert.

 

 

 

Home

You can’t ever really go home. That’s the saying, isn’t it? I never understood what it meant until about 7.6 seconds ago.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “home” lately. About my friends and family I haven’t seen in 6 months. About the comforts of my old bachelorette pad—the one I spent a long time saving and working at a 9to5 office job to afford. About the cat that used to run up and greet me at my front door and snuggle with me when I thought there were ghosts in my closet.

I miss all these things, and if I gave up tomorrow, admitted defeat, and retreated to this familiar place with my tail between my legs, I would probably find it to be, well, not so familiar. It would no longer be my home, but a place more foreign than the one I’m in now. Even only after 6 months, friends will have been living their lives in a state of change, working towards homes with significant others and achieving their own career goals, forging their own paths to happiness. My old cat will still belong to her new family and I definitely couldn’t afford that bachelorette pad anymore.

Most prominent of all though, I know I will see things differently. Not for better or for worse. Just differently.

Forever in my life up until this point, home was where the familiar was. It was where I could go and put my feet up after a trying day, where I could go seek advice from my parents, and where my friends and I would prepare to go out on our own adventures together.

But out of sheer necessity, the concept of home has had to change for me. What is home now? It’s really become ephemeral, or maybe transitory is the right word? To get through my lonely days and scary nights I have had to become comfortable with the notion that home is wherever I am in the present. It’s more a state of mind than a tangible place.

Although I’m still adjusting to this idea of home, I’ve learned some things about my new mental space. The Chateau Dudys is a little messy, a little broken, a fortress of sorts, always confused, and excited for what’s to come. I have my weak days, ones where I look up one-way flights back to Canada, but overall I’m learning so much about myself and know if I stick it out here, my new home will grow to be more resilient and adaptable than ever before.

North Berwick and Being Alone

IMG_1582Writing and photos by Tori Dudys

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can see why you might assume I took my trip to North Berwick, a seaside town in Scotland, on my own. The title of this post somewhat suggests I did. But I didn’t. I went with a new friend who kept me from falling while bounding over slippery grass and rocks. Bottom line, I had someone to point me in the right direction during our trip and if I’m being honest with you and myself, at that point I probably wouldn’t have gone out there on my own strictly out of fear of the unknown and being alone in a new place.

After a couple hours of walking across grassy fields and climbing cliffs by the shore and learning about sea birds and quartz, we sat on the rocks by the water and watched a fisherman at work. He was alone with not but his rain gear and fishing rod, just standing overlooking the water waiting for a catch. The sun was about to set.

I’ve always known there’s a peace in being alone, but sometimes when I’m on my own my anxieties heighten and I get very antsy. Time passes slow and out of desperation I whip out any form of technology I can to push away the all-consuming loneliness that seems to almost punch holes in my chest from the inside out. Sending Facebook messages or seeing what friends are up to on Instagram takes the sting out of loneliness, at least momentarily. I completely understand how millennial that sounds and how absolutely surface-level that solution is, but it’s something I always catch myself doing regardless.

However, seeing this fisherman, almost statuesque just standing, watching, waiting, without a phone or book in his hands to keep his mind preoccupied, instilled in me a renewed understanding of the importance and ease of being alone.

Living in a new city where I know virtually no one can sometimes be unsettling. But with anonymity comes reinvention, self-improvement, and self-acceptance. I guess what I’m trying to say is being alone is healthy. So is being surrounded by people you love. Wherever you find yourself, as long as you’re comfortable in your own mind with your own thoughts, you can enjoy or at the very least find meaning in whatever it is life throws at you.

As I’m heading to the airport, about to embark on my first real solo travel excursion in Norway, I find myself thinking about the fisherman in North Berwick. Though nervous to travel completely alone for the first time, I’m hopeful and excited that by the time my trip has come to a close, I will have my own metaphorical fishnet full of interesting experiences and a reinvigorated sense of self.

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Into Giants

Written by Tori Dudys, photos by Janine Lameiras

We’re breathing now, but one day we won’t be.

Each time I stand next to a huge body of water, vast mountains, deep caves, or any other overwhelming natural phenomena, I’m always reminded of how small I really am, and how close every person on this planet is to not existing. I know, that’s cheesy, and morose to say. But honestly I’ve never felt more insignificant or human than when I sat near the ocean at the bottom of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.

There were hundreds of tourists around so I had to dig deep in the trenches of my inner introversion but in an attempt to seek mental refuge from these thoughts of dying I managed to transport myself to a world where every life wasn’t wavering on a wrong step or miscalculated movement. A place where everyone lived forever.

A few days before seeing the Causeway, I had an interesting conversation with a man I met in the beautiful city of Oban, Scotland. A bit drunkenly—and by a bit I mean a lot on my part—we discussed important things like the environment and immigration laws, and not-so important things like music and movies. But what struck me the most was when we somehow got onto the topic of our very old and sick grandfathers (there’s no subject too bold during an epic conversation with a stranger).

He made an interesting point about aging. One I’ve thought much about in the last few months. The idea that no matter how young we think we are and no matter how many steps we take to look and feel younger, we will always become more and more inhibited by our increasing number of physical limitations. We’re only as strong as our bodies and that’s disturbing when you consider how fragile these bodies actually are. An edge of a piece of paper can slice our skin.

Though it’s terrifying to think about this physical fragility, and the impending doom with which we are all faced, maybe it’s our mortality that makes places like the Giant’s Causeway that much more special and awe-inspiring. They remind us of our impermanence and how we may never get the chance to be in that exact spot ever again. Whether it’s huge rocks by the water in an unfamiliar country, or your favourite tree in your front yard, it’s worth it to remember how special our lives are and how incredible everything around us is because, quite frankly, we’re breathing now, but one day we won’t be.

Taking off

The engine was buzzing. The person next to me was already sleeping. And I’m still crying, even two weeks after take-off.

Of course I’ve said goodbyes before: to friends who’ve moved across the country and to others who’ve moved farther. But I’ve never really been the one to leave. At least not this far, for this long.

Indefinitely. That’s the answer I’ve been giving people as to how long I’ll be across the pond. Realistically my visa is only good for two years, but who’s to say I won’t be somewhere else once that time comes. Who’s to say I won’t fall flat on my face and be back home broke in a couple months? So, indefinitely it is. It’s a scary word though. Overwhelming in its ambiguity.

“Take it day by day,” people keep saying. I never understood how to live like that before leaving home. I always had a job, an idea, a plan. Not this time.

I must say, living day to day is easier when you really have to. You can’t think about next week because you don’t even really know where you’re going to be. It is pretty liberating when I think about it, but I still worry a lot. Uncertainty and I have never gotten along well, but now it seems like apprehension is my only friend (along with Janine, my travel buddy).

I feel like a real twit for being so nervous about our trip. How many people have done this and been successful? Especially when they have people who love them to offer support. So many. I think about the people who go places, wherever they want, with no one behind them and nothing but a strong sense of adventure and what they want out of life. And they kick ass. What do I really have to be sad or worried about?

So that brings me here then. About two weeks in, with a best friend by my side, sitting in a hostel in Dublin, eating an orange for lunch, about to head to the airport on a plane out to London. All is well, minus the horrid cold we both picked up—it’s hard to make friends in hostels when you keep everyone awake with your wheezing night after night. But we’ll look back and laugh I’m sure. In a few months we’ll look back and laugh about all the self-doubt, the insecurities about making friends, and the days we chose beers over lunches. I hope we do, anyway.

Tori