I’ve always felt like I’ve been leading 2 lives. It’s like I’ve constantly had my feet on opposite sides of a doorway. The best metaphor I can think of was this time when I was 13 and my cousin came to visit my family at our house just outside of Vancouver. Our town was nestled right in the mountains that bordered the US and so, naturally, we had what we called “wilderness borders”: borders that, as the name implies, were nothing but woodlands and endless, endless mountain ranges. The neat thing about these “wilderness borders” was that you could do that cool thing you see in all the movies (and by ‘all the movies’ I’m honestly only referring to A Walk to Remember because that’s the only one that really matters) where you could be in two places at once. Plant one foot in Canada and one in the US and boom, you’re defying the laws of space and time (well.. not really but don’t tell my 13-year-old self that, OK?).
I remember us driving up, winding through the trees that always reminded me of Twilight. I was obsessed with that novel at the time, and the fact that my little ol’ town looked exactly like the backdrop Ms. Meyer had created for my fictional fantasy had me overjoyed. I was Bella, wandering through the expansive green landscape looking for my Edward (let me remind you I was thirteen, ok? Don’t judge me). All teen novels aside, the area surrounding my town was and still is utterly beautiful and I specifically remember that drive up being taken aback by it’s presence.
We arrived at the spot and I remember thinking just how cool it all was. Being in two places at once? Was that even possible? But as I walked towards the little stone marker telling us which side was which, as if we didn’t know where we were, I slowly realized that there wasn’t much of a difference north or south. The Jasmine that stood with her tiny right foot in American soil still felt a lot like the Jasmine who, for the past decade and three years, had lived with both feet in the true north strong and free. Left or right, there wasn’t much of a difference, and my excitement quickly turned to disappointment.
However, I distinctly recall just something feeling off. This magical moment of defiance made me feel almost… incomplete. As if I wasn’t totally whole. Maybe it was because I’ve always felt a little off in the US (nothing against America whatsoever) but, while the two halves of myself still felt like myself, they didn’t feel whole.
We left that mountain a little less enchanted and a lot more confused, but that memory still haunts me today. Not only can I still vividly remember the details, even down to the outfit I was wearing (which was, I’m sad to report, an ill-fitting black sweater and cropped black workout pants… not my best moment, I’ll tell you that), but I can even recall the thoughts running through my mind. Maybe it’s because this memory is so engrained in me that I’m linking it to now, here, in this moment of my life, in this corner of the world.
My heart is in two places and I don’t feel whole. Much like that moment on the border, I feel like, while not physically, I’m mentally on the border of here and there. Here, I feel like myself in the same way I did with both feet in different countries, but this time, my feet have to be figurative. My feet, at this current moment, aren’t necessarily planted on anything (they’re actually resting on my mattress as I type these words), but they’re still within a country that I call my second home. I feel myself here, a version of myself that I’ve longed to find and have yearned to call my own. Now, I have that edition of myself and I’m happy. I’m elated to chase after my dreams here and seek out my happiness in ways I had only dreamed of before. I’m comfortable.
However, there’s a part of me tied to the other side of the ocean, back home. This other half or other foot of mine longs to be on a different shore, closer to my friends, family, and, hell, even my dog that I haven’t met yet. I want to bask in the Pacific sunlight, reading books in a living room that looks out towards a western horizon. I miss nights at the pub with my friends, spontaneous brunch dates with my roommate, and feeling a sense of purpose in my life. I have purpose here, but it’s a drive that has an expiry date. This happiness, this life, this dream–everything is temporary.
I paused too long after writing that last sentence because the weight of those words hit me too hard. Everything, down to the last instance, the last touch, the last moment–everything is temporary. There’s nothing permanent in this world of dreams I’ve created and maybe that’s why I feel torn. Happiness and life shouldn’t come with a best before date, but mine inevitably does. Maybe that’s why I can’t shake this feeling of brokenness or can’t look past this sensation of being pulled apart. Because I know that I cannot be whole here, nor can I be whole there. I will always, always be living in between. My existence will be like that day on the border, constantly being influx and unsettled.
How am I supposed to live when I can’t put my mind and my heart at ease? How can I truly be happy if I’m constantly looking towards a different horizon, longing to pull continents together and collapse space and time?
Because I’m not some magician or a sparkly vampire with psychic abilities. My defiance towards the laws that govern this Earth ended back on that hill, when I first felt the weight of being in two places at once.