When I was 18 I moved to Ottawa from Iroquois, Ontario to go to school. My childhood home was on an acre of land across the road from the St. Lawrence River. Behind the house were cornfields then the highway then more fields then the railway tracks. The nearest town had a population of 1,200. It had some beautiful views and some fascinating people. It also had no traffic lights, no record store, no bookstore, no movie theatre. And these were pre-Internet days.
I sat in my room as a teenager and wrote poems and listened to music and read books and had no idea what my life could possibly be like as an adult. Sometimes I drove to Ottawa to see my favourite bands and buy what I thought were cool clothes and get my hair done. Sometimes I took the train to Toronto or Montreal to see friends and family and see bands. But mostly I sat in my bedroom.
Ottawa is not a big city by most standards but for me it was a major positive jolt of change. I remember walking up Bay Street to Wellington with a friend at night when I first moved here. All the office towers were empty and very few people were around. My friend, a Torontonian, said something about how dead it was. I looked at all those buildings lit up like lanterns and said: You don't understand. For me, this is like Blade Runner.
This interview with Chaudière Books is part of the Six Questions about Ottawa series. It brought back some powerful memories about what it was like to come here when I was 18 and so angry and stupid and hopeful and romantic. All the lovely people who were patient with me. Thirty-five motherf*cking years ago! This life.
Grateful to rob mclennan who seems to never stop working to promote and encourage Ottawa writers.