Poutine on the waterfront
A few days ago, Paul and I walked downtown to get some poutine. There was something we were celebrating. I can’t remember what it was now. Possibly it was the release of my latest Olivia Hawker novel. I have another one out. I have one that comes out every year. It feels like something somebody else does, like someone else’s accomplishment, like a thing that happens in voidspace because Olivia Hawker isn’t my name. When they told me they wanted me to take things in a more literary direction and to do it under a new name, I thought all my dreams had come true. “Great,” I said. “I’m going to write under Libbie Grant from now on. My real name.” But they said, “No; we want the Hawker last name. Pick a different first name.” So I’m still stuck being a ghost, a fake person, a nobody who’s not really me.
Magic is funny that way. It’ll get you there, but you probably won’t like the journey or the destination. But it still gets you there. That’s the thing.
Anyway, Paul and I ate our poutine and walked along the waterfront to the capitol building. The sky was pink and the tourists were thick, and the bagpiper who’s out every night had fixed his high pipe so it was no longer growling. I put a few twonies in his cup, like I always do. And I realized that even though I didn’t like the path or the destination, I was still grateful for what I had, because who wouldn’t want this? Who wouldn’t envy this life? Living in a beautiful city, doing something for a living that’s still fun, even if I don’t get to be known for it—like, at all, not even my pen name. Nobody knows who the fuck Olivia Hawker is, and nobody cares, but here’s who she is, for the record: She lives in a beautiful home in a beautiful city. She got out of the shithole that is the States. She has a partner who loves her. She got where she is on smarts and skill, not on luck, and she knows this is true because every conceivable obstacle got in her way, and still gets in her way, and yet she has found a way around every conceivable obstacle. She is doing what MFAs and the Chosen Ones who actually get to see their work treated with respect and professional decency by their publishers don’t even get to do. She is steering this ship entirely by herself. She never took no for an answer.
She is going to find a way to make Libbie Grant into what Libbie Grant was always meant to be, too. When has she not found some way, in the end, to get what she wants? Always. She always gets it, one way or another, though it seldom looks the way she wanted it to look. Magic is funny that way.
I held Paul’s hand and I said to him, “I’m content. And I’m really grateful. And I think it’s the first time I’ve ever just enjoyed what I have instead of focusing on all the things I don’t have yet. I have so much. Who wouldn’t want this fucking awesome life?”
I was glad I finally learned how to see what I have instead of what I don’t have. The vision probably won’t last long. I didn’t get where I am by being meek and content. But it felt really good to know that I am actually capable of simply accepting the blessings and not seeing all the ways so many other writers have so, so much more.