Ode to Bristol

I’ve been trying to write the same blog post for over a month now. A best of Bristol guide so to speak, and at the moment I’m beyond frustrated that for whatever reason I can’t seem to get past a listicle of the places I want to include.

Why is that you might ask? Well thats a damn good question, because I don’t know. I’ve lived in Bristol for 6 months now and in the last few weeks I’ve realized how much I feel for this city. It should be no surprise if you’ve been following me for the last year + that it’s been a love/hate relationship with England. I was not in such a good way when I made the decision to apply for the visa and come here, and had absolutely 0 expectations when I arrived. I knew I would struggle with the weather, but not how much I have struggled. I had this preconceived notion that I would be jet setting around Europe monthly which has been shattered by the less than amazing wage rate that exists here. While the finances are not in a good way, the past few weeks have given me something else that I was lacking and was playing strongly on my mind & lifestyle; a group of people. Now that might sound silly to a lot of you, but for anyone who travels often, for people who come & go as often as I have, finding a group of quality friends who support you & your lifestyle is hard AF.

I love my lifestyle, and I would not give it up for pretty much anything in the World. But holy shit does it ever take it’s toll on relationships in your life, and ever since I arrived in England I’ve really struggled to find “my people”, or really people at all. Making friends as an adult gets hard when you aren’t in school or part of a sports team, where else are you supposed to find your people? It’s something I’ve spoken about quite a lot, and have felt in other places including my own home country. Now I’m not saying all my worries & stresses are washed away because I’ve found a group of people that make my life here better, but it does make a difference.

Being here I’ve had the chance to meet so many people thanks to social media, and while these channels can be more annoying than not to a lot of people (myself included), I am grateful for the groups I'm a part of because of the people I’ve been able to meet. I feel rather emotional thinking about it to be totally honest, and wonder if things would have been a lot different had I opted to move to Bristol instead of Brighton in 2017, but I can’t go back and change that and just have to move forward knowing what I know now. The people I’ve met and can now call friends are fiercely passionate about Bristol, they love their City and all the greatness it holds. They are creative, and talented. They have similar passions, and opposite likes that brings new things to my life I never thought I would enjoy. They are kind and support me in every way. Life is never boring with these people, they make a point of it being that way. They are the people I’ve been looking for since arriving to this country, hell even before this. People that I’ve encountered maybe only a handful of times at events or meet ups but have kept in touch. People that maybe I haven’t even met yet but have had the pleasure of interacting with online because of our love of one thing or another. I’ve never lived in a city before with such a huge population of creatives who are so quick to want to meet new people and include them in new things. It’s inspiring and makes me want to become better at what I’m doing. I want to challenge myself more at photography and writing. I want to learn more from them. And it really wasn’t until last weekend I realized how much I felt all these things. I started hearing things like “wait what do you mean you won’t be here next year?!” And while I laughed it off the more I thought about I realized how I felt about the people and this place. Sitting here putting a “pen to paper” (aka fingers to keyboard) has made me more emotional than I ever thought I would be about this place I’ve been in for the last 6 months.

I’ve always truly believed that people can make a place, and nothing is more true about my time here in Bristol. This summer has brought basically all my 2018 highlights, and 50% of that is definitely because of the people I’ve been able to share it with. The moments I’ve been able to experience have been seriously incredible and I’m so lucky to have had them. I’m beyond grateful for the people who have been there with me to smile uncontrollably until it hurts at the hundreds of balloons taking off over out heads, the ones who will scream out loud upon seeing beautiful things, the people who share the passions that I share think of you first when something comes up related to that passion. Those who include you in any plans even if it's dog walking or a coffee at their house. And simply the people who think of you when it comes time to make plans (preferably the ones that involve dance parties &/or gin). Something that’s so basic or simple to most has a really big affect on my life.

The last 6 months have been a wild ride, in both good & bad ways, but I’m hoping that continuing on from here, the next 6 months have more good wild than bad. I’m hoping that there is more time with these amazing people who make me love this city more than I ever imagined I would. And while I try not to think of what my plans are next year, I am forced to keep the thought in the back of my head because I know that my time here will come to an end and I will be forced to say another heartbreaking goodbye to the people who were the reason I fell even more in love with Bristol. There’s so much more of this city I’ve got to see so for now I’ll keep these people in close proximity & see as much as I possibly can and figure things out as I go.

I guess with that I should say thank you to the city that welcomed me in the darkest part my year (in every way) for how things have turned out. To Bristol, a city I knew absolutely NOTHING about, the city I had only experienced a coach station in before making the cumbersome move from Brighton to. A city with a copious amount of amazing cafes that became my office as I desperately looked for work for 3 months upon arrival. The city that gifted me the easiest house hunting experience I’ve ever had leaving me with a lovely place that even came with it’s own dog! To Bristol, a city that is bursting at the seams with creatives who are always showing me new places and leaving me wanting to challenge myself to find them & so much more. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet cette group of creatives and be embraced whole heartedly by them.

Thank you for introducing me to a community I never knew I wanted to exist and allowing me to be a part of it. The city with the most incredible food & arts scene next to my home city of Montreal, where something is always going on and the city (and it’s residents) never seem to sleep. Where getting up at sunrise during the summer is more common than not, and staying out to catch sunset is always a good idea down by the harbour. A city with hundreds of coloured houses that never cease to make me stop and stare. A bridge that always demands to be photographed and a boat built by the same impressive man hundreds of years ago. A place where you’re never too far from an insane piece of graffiti which is celebrated yearly even in the most horrible of weather. A city that waits all year for the possibility of seeing 100+ hot air balloons ascend over it and comes out in full force even if that means at 4:30am. A city with a population of the friendliest Brits I’ve met thus far, and with accents more different than I’ve encountered yet. A population of people who call most everyone “my lovely” and who have made me use the term “lush” more than my brain even imagined I could. Here’s to the city that has brought me so many amazing experiences & people. Here’s to Bristol for all it’s done for me and all that is to come.

In the last 30 minutes I’ve written more about Bristol without writing anything I planned to write. This wasn’t the post I set out to write , but I hope that it is one that inspires you visit (how could it not!?). Or maybe it will spark a bit of introspection on where you live and how it makes you feel. My time in the UK or even Bristol has not been all amazing things and people, it’s been harder than I ever imagined and is far from perfect but right now I’m relishing in how I feel about it in the hopes that when things get hard again I can look back at this and remind myself that it will get better. Even as I go to press publish I’m not 100% happy, I struggle regularly so this is by no means a “living the dream” post, because I’m not. Not everyday at least, but I’m hoping that from here on out I can have more of those days than not. I hope that I’m able to meet more people who inspire me and bring inspiration to my life when I need it the most, people who help me make the best of the time I have left in this country/this city. This is one of the more personal blog posts I’ve put out in a long time, and more of an ode to Bristol & it’s people than anything else, and there was something super cathartic about putting it all into words. The post I intended to publish today will come, but for now I’ll leave you with this sort of ode to Bristol & it’s lovely people <3