Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meeting 'Abby'

A week and a half ago I was in a small village in the south of Saskatchewan called Val Marie. I was there to serve as a chauffeur for one of the participants in a workshop that was going on there since he needed to catch a plane on the Saturday which was departing from the Regina airport four hours away. Jen volunteered me and I agreed. I figured, three days of kicking back in the middle of nowhere, reading and listening to podcasts on my iPhone might be a nice change of pace.

While there, we stayed in this converted convent. It was run by this couple who pretty much did everything from room service to cooking and serving all of the meals. Both nights we ate supper there they had a girl helping them with the service. A different one for each night. I don't know where they came from or who they were, but both were pleasant company and provided good service during the meal.

I found out later that the second girl was a Masters student working as a writer-in-residence there. She was writing poetry, or something, and chillin' at the convent in their sitting room upstairs, I think.

On the Saturday after I got back from Regina, we had supper and the group all went upstairs to continue their workshop while I prepared to go for a walk and the poet girl (I think her name was Natalie), was going to a movie. Stunned as I was by the fact that Val Marie even had a theatre (or a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile), I was more surprised that the more I spoke with Natalie outside the convent the more she started to remind me of one of my characters from Smitten, my romantic dramady magnum opus. Everything from the way she dressed, to the way she spoke rung true. The fact that she was a writer helped, too, seeing as Abby, while not a poet, is something of a wordsmith. The only thing that was different from how I had always envisioned Abby was Natalie had shorter hair. Suffice to say, I may chop off Abby's locks by story's end, now, as I liked the look. There would also be some relevance to the plot to do such a thing, which is always nice.

As we parted ways, it was all I could do to keep from chasing after her and chatting her up some more. Maybe snapping a few pictures, like that wouldn't be creepy. Instead we said our goodbyes, she went to her movie, I went on my walk, hoping that she would return to hang with the group later that evening. She did come back as most of her stuff was taken from the reading room upstairs by morning, but she did so quietly and retired to wherever she called home in Val Marie.

I never saw her again after that but I'll never forget the weirdness and strange thrill of meeting someone who is, ostensibly, someone I created in my head but a real flesh and blood person I can interact with. It was trippy.

And, as my high school graphic arts teacher would say, "that's my story".



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