I’ve never had to shovel snow before. This is a strange admission for a Canadian to make, but I’ve lived in apartments or colleges for most of my adult life and it never came up as an issue. So, finding myself in Laura’s new house with an inch of ice buried under six inches of snow, I’ve finally had to grow up and take out the shovel. And you know what? I find that I like it. There’s a camaraderie to snow shoveling. People smile at you. They commiserate. In a city where I have never spoken to my neighbours, suddenly, I find myself borrowing ice picks and salt.
And now that it has come time for me to say goodbyes to Canada, just as I was starting to figure out this whole snow shoveling business. Just when I was starting to feel like a true Canadian.
I don’t like goodbyes.
I like hellos — beginnings, fortuitous meetings, laying down the first brick in the foundation. That’s my thing. Not goodbyes. Not seeing things finished. Not leaving.
Back in 2010 I ran into Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi at the Word on the Street festival. It was a fortuitous meeting. I was only there, because Laura had just returned from Edinburgh and was volunteering in order to make contacts. She made no contacts. I signed up to be an editor for their upstart press.
(To be fair, Laura signed up several months later so perhaps it all worked out in the end.)
This was a remarkably life-changing event for me. I had put my writing, sporadic to begin with, on hold throughout graduate school. And I was just starting the second year of my PhD, having just run the gauntlet of language exams, a massive research conference, and my final fields studies. The decision was made on a whim. I missed writing. I was a bit burnt out on academia — not bitter, just tired. So I thought, “Why not give it a try?”
And it has been a tremendous roller coaster ride, seeing CZP develop from what was originally a print-on-demand operation to a thrice-World-Fantasy-nominated press putting out over twenty-five books a year. I truly believe people will look back on the last five years and know that something happened here. Something special.
I have made the very best of friends here. Brett and Sandra, I owe you the world. You have shown such courage, such strength-of-will, such perseverance. None of your successes have come easily; none of them have been cheap. You took a chance on me as an editor, and then you took a chance on me as a fiction writer. I owe you a debt of gratitude: know that you’ll be partly to blame for any successes I have in the future. But more than that, the two of you have become family. Deep-rooted family. And I know we’ll share many more glasses of wine in the future, more toasts, more tears, more glories and commiserations.
I’m packing up my suitcase right now. I’m reading a card that all my friends signed at the last Reading Series. I’m preparing to face a polar vortex on this side of the ocean and floods on the other but I know there are friends who will help me out in a jam.
It’s still really scary though. Exciting and scary. Not the least because a plane leaving from Toronto slid off a runway yesterday because of too much ice.
Thank you, everyone in Toronto, you have been in turn inspiring and grounding,. You’ve helped me to become the best possible version of myself. I know that my younger self would be thrilled to find out she’d become a doctor of medieval studies and a published writer to boot.
I don’t like goodbyes.
But here I am, saying one last goodbye to Toronto. One last goodbye to a place where I grew from gawky adolescence to gawky adulthood. One last goodbye to so many good friends. To family. To my entire collection of books. To my old bedspread. My Jack Skellington coffee mug. My dear sister. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.