Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Full Circle

Share |

I can get lost anywhere. Not only in my head while working on a story, but in the physical world. You’ve heard that cliché, she doesn’t know her right hand from her left hand? That’s not my problem, I know my right hand from my left hand. North, South, East and West, now they’re the problem.

I got a GPS for Christmas, a bit of gadget wizardry that makes my life much easier, although more crowded. Now, instead of a single voice in my head pointing out directions for a story, there’s a second voice in my car pointing out directions for a destination point. It gets noisy.

The tiny woman who lives inside my GPS is British, and could get a job with MI5 if she decides to change career paths. She is very self-assured, very bossy, very calculating. She is constantly “recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.”

This missing layer of knowing, this state of being geographically challenged, runs in my family. My oldest brother recently confessed he gets lost all the time. I should have recognized the clues. When the graveside service for my mother had concluded, I climbed into the passenger seat of my brother’s car. In respect, mourners formed a queue of cars behind us to let the immediate family leave first, to follow us out of the cemetery. My brother led the cars in a slow circle right back to my mother’s grave.

Going in circles sometimes isn’t such a bad thing. When ending a story, I like to return to the site of the grave, so to speak, to somehow circle back to the beginning. Of course, something has always changed, usually within the main character, and the ending is not an exact duplicate of the beginning.

On a recent visit to the small town of Deep River, I went for an evening walk. After an hour, I realized I had passed the same yellow house, the same beautiful garden profuse with roses, at least three times. I was going in circles, when I had thought I was heading back in the direction of my lodgings.

My husband and I lived in Deep River when we were first married. We fled small-town life for big city life as soon as we could. I felt trapped in Deep River. I hated the prospect of living my whole life there. I vividly recall driving away for what I thought was the last time. Our baby girl slept in her car seat in the back, the birdcage carrying our zebra finches bunched in next to her.

All these years later, our baby girl is grown with a baby of her own on the way. For the past two summers, my husband and I have returned to Deep River on vacation. I fantasize about buying a small house there, passing the summers in a lovely haze of paddling and writing. The fantasy includes a writers’ retreat where others stay a while, create, read, regenerate. It is a place where going around in circles is acceptable, even encouraged, and Ms GPS has nothing to say, since there really isn’t anywhere to go.

I’ve come full circle.

~ Marianne Paul

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Marianne Paul

Marianne Paul's is the author of the novels Dead Girl Diaries (BookLand Press, 2009), Tending Memory (BookLand Press, 2007), Twice in a Blue Moon (BookLand Press, 2007) and The Shunning (Moonstone Press, 1994). Her fiction, non-fiction and poems have appeared in publications such as Vox Feminarum, Cahoots, Canadian Author, Western People and The New Quarterly.

Go to Marianne Paul’s Author Page