Sweeping, swamping memories flood in as I drive around the old, familiar streets. Anyone who knows River Heights understands when I say how the cavernous, verdant arches of the tree-lined streets whisper, “Welcome home, welcome home.”
I can’t help but drive by my old homes as my son now lives on my old street and as I go to visit friends, they live on another old street and as I drove into town and went to the car wash, I couldn’t help drive by another as it was on the way. Seeing the places where I once lived tugs at my heart as I remember the visceral details of switching on certain favourite light fixtures, the feel of opening a window in the spring or the heft of opening a front door, all insignificant at the time. All were just moments and motions in an ever-changing life that always moved too fast. Moments and motions that were torn and shoved into memory as life abruptly moved on. Now, as life is a little calmer and I am much more at peace with all the loss and change, I look at my old homes, not with sad nostalgia, but a reverence for the pace and resilience I developed in those years.
Winnipeg has a way of drawing old friends together as we all lived up or down the streets from each other. We have generations of tales of antics down the back lanes. “We trudged to school in minus 30 degrees up and downhill both ways…” was the joke of our parents and we laughed at the part about being in the hills, not about the temperature that earned Winterpeg its nickname. Close to the longitudinal centre of Canada and also on the pancake flat prairies, I actually have a lot of respect for anyone who can drive decently in snow. We played and grew and loved and lived in an urban forest and never realised how incredibly special the quality of air is from all those trees. Years ago an out-of-town friend said Fess up – there are only five streets in Winnipeg and you have lived on all five! Pretty much.
My hometown is a place of constancy. Not a large city, it boasts beautiful women, bountiful nearby lakes, and culture to rival anywhere. The fans of the Winnipeg Jets are renown for their loyalty and that love and devotion just spills over into lifelong friendships.
I am here to share my book, Gifts of the Crysnix. This is big for me! It will be so poignant for me to look into the eyes of old friends and read my words – my heart – to them. I have chosen the biggest, most beautiful bookstore in town and it thrills me to think I will finally be launching at McNally Robinson Booksellers. If you would like to read more about it go here.
A blurb about me from McNally Robinson was in the Winnipeg Free Press weekend edition. Out of the blue, I heard from an old friend, actually, someone I was never really close to but knew many years ago. She took the time to track me down through my website and say hello. It was so great to hear from her as she congratulated me and promised to read my book. An acquaintance from the past, in this harried, busy life, made the time to send me a lovely note. That is the kind of quality of people who live in my hometown.
I am so proud to be back in Winnipeg.