Rek Bell

2014— Year of firsts

When the clock stuck 12, I was hundreds of miles up into the sky. Little bursts of light surfacing from below, like the sky was suddenly under me. The ground-bound were celebrating the coming of the new year, throwing fireworks up into the air.

Witnessing it from high above is something i will never forget.

Spent the plane ride with my sweater over my head, bridging the gap between my face and the window… trying to mask as much light as i could to see outside. I’d never seen the stars so clearly before. Devine and I were traveling to Thailand for 2 weeks, the purpose of our travels were both happy and sad. We needed to leave Japan, going out of the country would permit him to stay an additional 3 months so that we could plan the move properly.

In the span of a year our anchor had sunk deep… leaving would be no easy task.

News of Devine’s visa came december 6th. That evening we celebrated both our prolonged stay in the country and my aging another year. We went to a chili restaurant i loved in Tokyo, they served delicious chili in bread bowls with an unlimited serving of homemade pickles. The prospect of spending another 2 years here was exciting. I didn’t know what i was going to do with my life, not knowing made it strangely comforting.

Unfortunately, we were told we had to leave.

We spent new year’s in the sky.

Landed in Phuket, did our best to ignore the numerous touristic unpleasantries. Afternoons were hot, that time we spent working on Oquonie in the hotel. When the sun went down our day would begin, evenings of exploration and of shamelessly gorging ourselves on fresh mangosteens and pineapples.

The second part of our trip was spent underwater, there commenced my overuse of the word 'buoyancy'.

In the deep blue everything is foreign and wild. Life everywhere, fish brushing past and sea snakes coiling around corals. We dove for 3 days, the rest of the time we spent working on Oquonie and swimming in the ocean… chasing fish and avoiding crispy beach dwellers.

Thai beer proved disappointing, luckily we found a good craft beer place. Much time was spent there talking about the game, discussing assets and mechanics over a drink. We were able to finish most of it on our trip!

Returning to Tokyo meant a return to reality, we needed to start planning our departure.

There were many things i needed to do still, compressing all of that in 3 months was going to be difficult. I wanted to absorb as much of it as i could. I cycled through my favourite neighbourhoods, ate the food i loved the most… and most important of all I spent time with the amazing people i had come to befriend over the past year.

Finally came the last days of our stay, our apartment empty.

We slept on the floor, all our appliances were gone. The only piece of furniture we had left was the chabudai, one of the things i was looking forward to owning the most when we first arrived.

Treated myself to a last bike ride, the one that i loved and did everyday. Before arriving home I stopped on the bridge separating the rest of Tokyo to my neighbourhood. From that bridge I could see the large illuminated ferris wheel in Odaiba as well as the illuminated Toyosu crane. The ferris wheel had different patterns varying from season to season. I liked passing that bridge to see that this pattern had changed. Biking in tokyo was one of the single best experiences of my life. It made me happy, gave me time for myself… time to think.

Passing that bridge meant that my life was changing again in a really big way and i wasn’t ready.

Me and Devine didn’t go to Montreal straight away, we carried our bicycles and all of our stuff over to San Francisco for GDC.

All in all it was a great experience, listened to a lot of inspirational talks, walked along the tall redwoods, raided whole foods on a daily basis and played several games of space team with fellow creators. Left the warm san francisco weather to a much colder Montreal, patches of snow covered the ground still. When we arrived my dad was there to greet us, he was also the last face i saw when we left in 2012. A familiar comforting face.

We found an apartment pretty quickly, needed to re-adapt to life in Montreal.

Biked my first 130km for the tour de l’ile. Legs were dead, butt was sore but saw beautiful parts of montreal that were unknown to me. Did my first game jam, also started working at Hibernum. Rediscovered my city again, seeing it with newfound interest. Spending time away made me more appreciative of life here, like the regular working hours, the readily available craft beer in grocery stores, the abundance of great coffee, the closeness of family and friends…

Unfortunately my summer of cycling in montreal was cut short, broke my clavicle.

Much whining and sleepless nights.

End of august my body was less broken, permitted me to cook again and released my cooking blog Grim Grains. By that time i had left my job at hibernum, made a lot of hasty decisions. Thought i knew where i wanted to be, as it turns out i wasn’t ready to work in studio just yet. Spent the rest of the summer in laurier park, talking long walks, going to the swings, having veggie pate filled picnics and meeting friends.

In september i returned for a short 2-week trip to Tokyo. A lot of uncertainties still. How easy it was to just slip back into old habits! Walked everywhere, everyday. Acquired some much needed snacks for home, as well as the holy grail of black foods: Bamboo charcoal.

Time went fast after that, began to spend a lot of time experimenting with recipes. Started and finished a few children’s books, saw that i had printed 13 so far. Maybe that means i can call myself a children’s book illustrator now? Published a printed Oquonie walkthrough, started to knit, put my awkwardness to the test at taiko drumming, learned screen printing class, started swimming regularly, began cycling in winter, went to bit bazaar, cooked with my mom… had that awful back tattoo covered up.

It was certainly a year of firsts, which i am very glad for… having many firsts every year means im learning and growing as a person. I hope to continue down this path, i think it's a good one :).

A part of me still resides in tokyo, i guess that’s what happens when you develop ties elsewhere. It splits you up, never to be whole again. While that may seem sad, to me it means that I have many homes and that’s a comforting thought.

Here’s to another year of firsts! May it be full of trips and food!

Go back to yearly review.