No House Has Ever Sunk in the Making of A New Friendship            

My husband says our house is sinking under the weight. I don’t pay attention. He tends to exaggerate. Instead, I pick up another friend. They’ve been recommended to me because of their clever stories, their poetic words. Or sometimes I just like the look of them, the way they feel when I innocently run my hand across a spine.

When I run out of space, I look for solutions, places I can continue to proudly house my loves. What does Dave have to complain about? They occupy such tiny corners. Well, okay, the thicker ones need more room. I admit it. So what? They deserve the places they command.

These friends of mine are my escape, my entertainment. And really my only vice. Why would anyone deny me these pleasures? Our interactions give me glimpses into lives and times so different from my own. I love peeking in. My hand trembles as I crack another cover.

I have journeyed with my special friends through discovery, elation and tragedy, experienced grief and retribution and all the emotions in between. I’ve never had a dull moment. No wonder I’m in love with them all.

I have heard the words of a friend who grew up in a residential school. I felt his isolation and it gave me new understanding. My heart forgot to pump as I followed the adventures of a woman seeking revenge from those who took her father away from her. I wept for the stomach-retching grief of widows who have lost their loved ones at sea and on mountains and cheered for them as they found their lives again.

And what a fascinating place it is when you’re inside the head of a teenager involved in British Columbia’s pot industry.

I’ve heard the regrets of an old woman as she finally reveals what happened in a long ago unsolved murder. And the faith in a lonely boy’s voice with hopes that his love of music will help him find a way to belong.

My friends have given me insight into a time of gunslingers and the Wild West, as well as the very modern experience of aloneness after a relationship loses its early lustre. With all their stories, my friends have helped me understand my own motivations and foibles. They’ve made me cry, and laugh, and praise them to all who listen.

Dave monitors every friend I bring into the house. I suppose he’s concerned that my time will be taken up with other people’s lives. That I’ll ignore him, not hear him when he tries to talk to me. And to be fair to him, this has happened. I’m getting better at paying attention to my husband, but I do slip sometimes when I’m engrossed in the lives of others.

One day Dave will see that I can’t live without, Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse, Will Ferguson’s 419, Lisa Moore’s February, Sue Oakey-Baker’s Finding Jim, E.R. Brown’s Almost Criminal, Genni Gunn’s Solitaria, Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982, Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, Rona Shaffran’s, Ignite or any of the other books I bring home. As vices go, this one isn’t that bad, is it?

I remind Dave books, friends, stories cannot sink a house. They are the things that keep us engaged and standing strong.

By the way, all these books and their authors as well as so many others will be appearing at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, October 18-20th.  Take a new friend home. They are more than worthy of your attention. And I promise no house will sink in the making of a new friend.                        

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