From away…

My son Warren and I standing by the water

Monday evening…

I’m still buzzing, and at 9:30, the night is young… even for me.

We’re sitting on Sandy’s couch, sipping a wee dram after we’d returned from Between the Pages, an event with this year’s five short-listed Giller prize finalists.

“Which one are you going to read first?” I ask Sandy in reference to the five books.

“The next one I read will be for Kimber,” he laughs.

“Oh ya,” I say, remembering he isn’t the only one on the hook to provide MFA prof, Stephen Kimber, a final book report for the term.

Tonight, for the first time in months, I got to dress in something aside from jeans, drink wine in a crowd of interesting people, sample appetizers including lobster, listen to each Giller finalist read from their book AND THEN listen to them talk off the cuff about their writing and lives.

Heaven is my new Halifax razzle dazzle world…

Already, in the last few months, I’d had multiple occasions of ordinary me bumping into, watching or rubbing shoulders with the better knowns and more accomplished.

So when I’d watched Sandy chat up Heather Rankin (he knows her) and Mary Walsh had swished by to get to the speaker podium, not three yards away from me, whilst the Giller authors were mixing and mingling, it was both sort of normal and pretty cool.

“Sandy, the perks of Halifax and East Coast living are something out of my dreams and so completely different from my life in Waterloo.”

“Really?” he asks casually. Right… he’s used to this. Then he asks, “Do you think you’ll go back there?”


I sip my scotch while Sandy’s question hangs in the air because I don’t know. I just don’t know. My heart is torn.

So rather than answer, I take a u-turn.

“I don’t think I told you the story of when I fell in love a year ago.”

“No, don’t think so. What happened?” he asks.

I’ve not told many the story. I don’t quite know how to tell it because it wasn’t a whom I fell in love with, but a what.

I flew Graham and myself out to Halifax last year to visit with Warren over Thanksgiving. In our short, jam-packed six-day stay, I discovered the place of my dreams… ocean, beauty, walkability, culture, friendly people, music, history… and the library…  oh… the library.

I was bedazzled. I fell for Halifax like a ton of bricks at a point in my life where I needed change.

And here I live now, still very much in love, with all going tickety-boo, save one thing… a new thing… a thing I had yet to say out loud.

“I miss my peeps,” I confess to Sandy.

It’s true. I miss my peeps. But it’s not like I didn’t know the missing was coming.

Launching Project Friend was, in part, a preventative measure to help stave off homesickness, and it’s going well. I do have new peeps, Sandy being one of them. And I’ve had lots of friend dates too, though I will confess, friend dating is pretty much the same as the other kind of dating. I must be on my very best behaviour, meaning I dial down the real me and pretend I don’t want dessert (and I ALWAYS want dessert).

But even with the best and most determined efforts, making new friends takes time and a few other things for the magic to happen…

I read in an article, based on a study done in the 1950s, that there are three conditions necessary for making friends—*proximity, repeated, unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.

There are lots of times in life where these three happen naturally, effortlessly even—in school, when kids are young, sometime at jobs. Friends just seem to bubble out of everywhere.

Everyone remember that? Me too.

Meantime, it’s getting cold out, which means its couch/Netflix season. And I would love to hit fast forward with Project Friend and go straight to the comfort zone where a girlfriend and I can watch a romcom at one of our houses and take turns filling wine glasses while we debate whether to eat more cheese or break out the chocolate…

For now, I’ve come up with a viable work-around. Once or twice a week, my girlfriends and I do pour a glass of wine while lazing on the couch, course, we’re 1892 miles apart, and it’s over Skype… but it works in a pinch.

But then there is that other thing…  which is the really hard thing for me… two of three of my sons live in Ontario, along with my nephew and my brother and sister-in’law, and when I lived in Waterloo, we were joined at the hip.

Scotch done the clock is edging toward 10:30, and I feel the sleepies coming on. Time to go.

I say good-bye to Sandy, and trot down his newly painted front steps to the sidewalk.

The night is lovely and warm, and as I walk to my car, the fall leaves skip past me, crunching and crackling on the road. The cozy wood-clad Halifax houses, friendly sentries lining the streets, keep me company.

Truth is, no matter how long I live in Halifax, I will always be someone from away. But tomorrow, my feet will be back in Waterloo, where I am not from away.

I wonder how I will feel?


* Link:


Capture the Flag – Broken Social Scene

Save Me – Isley Brothers

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