I’ve spent the past 10 days in my parents’ tiny but airy apartment overlooking Commercial Drive, a noisy and electric hippie enclave on the east side of Vancouver. Although this apartment was my live-and-workspace for a few wayward years after my undergrad years at UBC, I’ve been beset by an uneasy sense of homelessness since I got here.
I was born and spent 19 years in Ottawa, 8 in Vancouver, and now 6 years in Toronto, long enough for each place to reciprocate in friends, workplaces, and odd cravings, but not long enough to be unthinkingly, presumingly, at home. Ottawa left me with an affection for Irish pubs, deep snows, and the gentle slope of the Gatineau hills, while on the West Coast, I learned how to bike in spitting rain, how to order food in an izakaya, how to interpret ferry schedules and to vent about rental prices and gentrification; while in Toronto’s west end I grew addicted to West Indian roti and Portuguese natas, to racing sailboats in the harbour and to the constant stimulant of the city’s conversations. Rather than feeling more settled with each year, I find myself jerking my head around, wondering, “what’s next?” and feeling as though at any moment, the hardwood floors of rented abodes will be yanked out from under me.
I don’t admit to myself that I’m busy when each day is a list of tasks. In the waning days of March, our landlady announced our house was being sold, the house I’ve lived in since moving to Toronto five years ago. We’ve since packed up, rented a van, signed a new lease, and settled into a cavernous character house overlooking Riverdale Park, and every day sitting down to my desk in our new share office has never felt onerous.
Still, trying to edit and write while in the midst of moving remains one of the most difficult states of being I’ve encountered. Interruptions occur constantly– house viewings on both ends, additional expenses, reference books and files are taped off in boxes.
Here’s what I managed to get done: I have work in the current issue of CV2, you can here “Mourning Doves” here. I also have two poems forthcoming in Ricepaper Magazine, my first appearance in that publication. A chapbook is in the works for fall release with Bardia Sinaee’s Odourless Press, which for now I’m calling “Occasional Emergencies.” I’m tentatively sending bits of my full-length poetry manuscript to publishers, like throwing pebbles into the well. I can’t even see the ripples they make. I just have to believe there’s water down there.
My next update may be in Europe! I fly next week into London, where I’ll spend a week seeing all the free galleries, free galleries and Queen’s gardens as I can. Then I take a cross-eyed itinerary of trains down to Lisbon to attend the Disquiet Literary Program. I’ve arranged hostel and homestays, but not much else. I have a rover’s attitude to travel– what I’ll get to, I’ll get to. I’ve found I’m much happier seeing half a gallery a day and wandering into a neighbouring park after asking an attendant where to get a good coffee, than checking another item off a list. It’s this way that a city can get acquainted with you.