A photo of a tropical coastline as the water hits the shore

“Where I Come From” is a Darling series that pays homage to the cities, towns and countries that we call home. Although we are not defined by where we come from, these places are a defining part of our stories. 

Where I come from, there are lines, visible and invisible.

The city splits neatly in two.

You wouldn’t know it looking from a distance. It blurs together like watercolor, streaks and all. One moment you’re driving along the sea. The next, you’re colliding into the skies.

Mountains and beaches meet in the middle. Hikers and bikers co-exists side by side. It’s a perfect ecosystem of mutual harmony—greens and blues, cool tones only. Yet, it’s enough color to combat the majority of days when the whole world is drenched in grey. 

It’s a perfect ecosystem of mutual harmony—greens and blues, cool tones only.

The city splits neatly in two.

A little steamboat takes you from the suburbs to the heart of downtown. You step off the water. The first thing you hear is the accordion player sitting in his newspaper cradle at the end of the ferry terminal. The seagull’s cry is drowned out by horns of cargo ships leaving the harbor, the Amtrak rumbling through its tracks and a hiss of a bus door sliding open.

The old Gastown steam clock hits 12. The bell, just as it does every day, rings in accordance. Everything follows a rhythm. There is peace among the noise. A settled, tranquil composure amidst the city’s subtle, almost unintelligible movements. 

Everything follows a rhythm. There is peace among the noise.

The city is the midpoint. Here the divide is most blurred. The smell of tikka masala or saffron rice meet in the middle. They trick you into thinking they all come from the same windows. The quiet and the stillness trick you into believing we are as united as the grass to the trees, the sky to the seas. 

The city splits into colored lines on the Skytrain map. Yellow is cumin and men in turbans. Green is heritage houses and Mercedes. Red is Chinatown. Orange is run-down karaoke bars and SAT prep schools. Blue is flannel-clad pot mongers. Purple is crispy flatbread and sweetened Persian tea.

The lines may overlap, but they never blend. At least, on the outside, they don’t. The colors only blend in those of us who have traveled between them enough. I grew up in one color knowing I belonged in another. I grew up a native orange surrounded by green. I have seen the brown, muddy mess inside of me.

Where I come from, colors live side-by-side. Someday they might live together.

What did your hometown or country teach you? How has it played a part in your identity?

Image via Raisa Zwart Photography

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