During this Valentine’s Day season, we focus on our non-human loves
Amy Asin // Illustrator
Love letters: A romantic’s dream or a nightmare for someone with bad penmanship. Our contributors have dedicated a short letter documenting a love of their life, human or no.
Bon Iver’s “For Emma, A Long Time Ago”
Claire Brnjac // Arts and Culture Editor
When I was eleven, I was peer pressured into leaving my Jonas Brothers phase by my friends because it wasn’t “cool” and I was completely bereft. Having also realized that my attraction to men might be not as real as I imagined, I went through an awakening many tweens do—I can listen to sad music and stare up at the ceiling for hours on end to feel better.
Enter Bon Iver. I first found his music when I went looking for a playlist to listen to during my bouts of ennui. This was in the time of 8tracks, a playlist service where people could make and send their own playlists to their friends. There was one playlist, helpfully titled Winter Blues and captioned with “for when nothing feels okay.” Perfect.
For Emma had just been released a few months earlier. I, being eleven and not in the music industry, hadn’t heard anything about it, so I didn’t recognize it when it came up. There were a few classics on the playlist; “Creep” by Radiohead and “Lua” by Bright Eyes were two of the main players. But when the song, “The Wolves (Act 1 and 2)”, came up, it held my attention for the longest. It was a slow song with acoustic guitars and a haunting refrain. To a sad eleven year old, it was catnip.
Thus began my obsession. I bought the CD just so I could listen to it in my Walkman on my way to school. It went well with every weather change; just as suited to a rainy day as a sunny one, and it hit every sad, melancholic mood I had perfectly. I might sound like a hipster now—my eleven-year-old self would have adored the comparison—but I felt like I had discovered something that spoke directly to me in a way other songs never could.
Years later, it is the album from my tween period that I haven’t gotten sick of yet. For Emma has remained by my side through breakups, graduations, realizations, failures, and rainy days. While I don’t depend on it like I did back then, there will always be a part of me that quiets at the sound of “Holocene” playing, like I am finally coming in from the cold.
Mayumi Izumi // Contributor
This Valentine’s Day, I choose Jericho Beach to be mine. Some of you may scoff at me, but Jericho Beach has never let me down—always beautiful, available when I want to see it and fun to be around—unlike some boyfriends I’ve had over the years.
I was born and raised in Vancouver and have visited my favourite beach since I was a chubby little girl in pigtails. During my childhood, my family, friends, and I had many picnics, sandcastle building sessions, and walks on the sand when the tide was out. It felt like we could walk for miles, admiring the snow-capped mountains, while watching baby crabs scatter as we left our little footprints.
Oh Jericho, how I love you so. Whenever I think of you, all that comes to mind is sweet nostalgia: wonderful memories, oceanside photos, sun-filled days getting tanned, frolicking and splashing in your waves.
Later in my adult years, I fell in love with a tall, dark and handsome Taurus and had some naughty moments in his Chevy Malibu overlooking the Vancouver skyline and your beautiful landscape. Yet it’s your love that I cherish more than anything.
Jericho, if you were mine, I could finally rest assured that all my wishes came true. No longer lonely or blue from memories of broken promises from ex-lovers. I’m happy that I no longer have to listen to their poor excuses for why they were late and couldn’t make our date and why they didn’t have the decency to text or call to cancel.
Seething with anger, disappointed to the point of tears, they didn’t deserve me or my love. But I have you, J, and for that, I am grateful.
Andie Bjornsfelt // Contributor
When I was thirteen, I desperately needed you, Prozac. I gulped you down without a thought—ten milligrams in a mini paper cup, tipped into my mouth and washed down with ginger ale.
I went off of you at fifteen. I thought ditching you would prove I was cured, that I had no need for this crutch. Two years later, I couldn’t go any longer without you, and I started with you again. I waited the dreaded two weeks, waiting for you to kick into my system. The metaphorical light then seeped in, and I’ve stuck with you ever since. You are not a crutch but a tool. A beautiful, useful tool.
Before you came along, my life felt like the heart of a Sylvia Plath poem—not as eloquent as she could put it, but you get the idea. You put a halt to me drumming along to her fate.
People misunderstand you because they think you are unnatural; some cheat, a boost up that the “regular” person wouldn’t have. It’s not like that—I swallow you when I awake, three capsules of green and cream. I don’t think about it anymore. But in those early days, every day counted.
I want to take this moment to say that I owe the little moments to you—the mornings I can put my feet on the floor, listen to others, feel myself living within my body. There is space between the thoughts of self-destruction, not quite kindness yet, but hope.
It’s the little things, but the moments add up and become my life. Do I owe this life to pills in a translucent, plastic container? Right now, I’m saying I kind of do.
You don’t ask for anything back. All you say is; “Now here we are. Now the work begins.”
You’ve allowed my heart to grow back, to take risks, to allow myself to look past the coming week. Hope in graduation, hope in meeting lovely people, hope in a body I can cherish.
Hope in, “Oh well. I tried,” and knowing that missteps aren’t the death of me, but only new starting points.
Prozac has brought me to the age of 22, a future I didn’t know could be mine. Camaraderie at working retail, almost four years now, a consistency I couldn’t imagine keeping in my teen years. A future of hot yoga with sweat dripping down my arms, hot coffee with Irish cream, weight gain, my dream kitty, saving for a retirement I’m already relishing over, and intimacy with once strangers. I am going to Scotland with my writing friends, I am going to pet some fluffy cows. I am given second chances and many more than just two.
To think I could not have seen all of this joy and growth, everything mental illness was close to snipping away.
Bronze Perpetual Calendar
Wen Zhai // Contributor
When I was looking for a weekend market in Paris, I ended up in a French version of an open-air Dollarama. I considered myself lucky to find a decent market with indoor and outdoor venues in Dublin back in 2015. For someone who could only afford one weekend there, Paris was a desert and Dublin an oasis. I usually went to these markets for books and small objects, things that were suitable to pack for a long flight.
I have no idea when I stopped stressing over my perfectionism, but this bronze calendar certainly helped me grow out of the unhealthy part of it. It was not love at first sight,but the faded floral patterns and the two thin layers of disks did intrigue me. I’d never seen anything like that before—by aligning the month and year on the 13cm diameter plate, you can check the date for any given day between 1983-2037. Plus, it can stand like a photo frame. There is no indication of who or where it is from, but judging from the rough workmanship, it’s partially handmade. You can almost hear the hammer and nail.
Recently, when I searched online, the only similar calendar I could find was one that someone posted on Reddit. It can tell dates within 100 years and had a similar design to mine, with the same starting year. It was newer, while mine is a bit worn-out, with some of the patterns blurred and colours faded. That’s what made me hesitate in the first place. I don’t usually buy worn-out things, even if they’re second-hand. But I’m glad its glamour prevailed, and now I carry it with me everywhere I go. When I was packing to come to Canada, I did not doubt that I would take it with me.
Keeping the calendar in sight is like keeping a time capsule in mind. It reminds me repeatedly of the continuity of time—how there is a tomorrow, even when days are long and years are short. It reminds me to appreciate the clumsiness of handmade objects and the traces of human usage left through time. Imagine how many stories this calendar has witnessed—mine will be among those as well.