As of today, 1 February, I have lived in Canada for three years.
Over at Making Light, there’s a great post on the decisions which lead us to the places we are. Many decisions, big and small, led me to this point. In retrospect, I can pinpoint multiple moments where I might have turned back and said: “This is too much.” Immigration is an unnerving process for the best of people. At few other times is one so conscious of the mechanisms of state that surround and influence our lives. Immigrating anywhere requires a combination of education on how the system works and faith that all will be well — or rather that, no matter the outcome, you will be well, you will persevere, no matter which side of the border you happen to do so on. Like all faith, this one is hard to find and even harder to maintain. It’s like flour or sugar — one is always running out, staring at the dry remnants at the bottom of the bag and wondering how far they might possibly be stretched. At times like this, you turn to your neighbours.
Multiple people helped me get here. The first of these is Mr. Ashby, who demonstrated both courage and patience when dealing with me and the process. He never failed to remind me that no matter where we were, we are always together.
My attorney answered countless questions. The late, great Emru Townsend gave me tasks to do, and so did the people at Trillium and TIFF, where I spent time volunteering. My advising team encouraged me to apply for the grad work I now do, in the firm belief that I would be able to study as a domestic student rather than an international one.
Other people helped enormously. I queried the IAFA for information on Toronto-area science fiction workshops, and they pointed me to Chris at Bakka Phoenix Books, who in turn pointed me to Dave Nickle and the people at Cecil Street. It is thanks to her that I have the friends I do now — the people who set the rhythm of my year and have the patience to continue sculpting the stubborn clay that is my writing ability. I’ve never repaid this debt to Chris. One day I must.
Last night while trudging through snow to a party of these same friends, Mr. Ashby remarked that the difficulty in finding their homes is their proximity to one another; one never knows quite where one is going until one arrives. This is an excellent metaphor for my immigration story. I knew only vaguely where I was headed. I only got there under the helpful guidance of people with greater mettle, who ushered me along when things got cold or dark or slippery. I wish I could attribute my eventual success to myself, but I can’t. I was scared the whole time.
But, as I told Squid:
“When I’m trying to find you — any of you — I just trust my feet. If you asked me to explain the way there, I couldn’t tell you. There are too many turns, too much I don’t remember. But I somehow always wind up where I wanted to go.”