So I was supposed to be at a wedding today.
My niece and her fiance had booked a noted small town venue, a place remote enough to be picturesque and relaxed but close enough to everywhere in southern Ontario that counts. Picture the quaint stone town hall with a clock-tower, and surrounding forests. Down by the old mill stream, the converted stone building boasts high ceiling supported by weathered beams and hanging glass chandeliers. 'Twas to be that kind of wedding, until COVID-19, our rude and unwelcome guest, decided to stay a wee bit longer on the old couch, legs spread out, one diseased and unsanitized hand scratching private places while the other reaches into a discount bag of potato chips. Y'want some?
Her fiance's an engineer. She's an engineer and lawyer who specializes in patent and contract law. They want the big wedding, and so it has been pushed to 2021, when they hope that people reluctant to come and crowds that challenge regulations will no longer be a concern.
Her sister lives local to me, our only family in town. She's also engaged. She's a nurse engaged to a plumber. They've not set a date, but they say that, if it had been their wedding, they would have just gone ahead.
Curiously, my friend Eve has a nephew's wedding to attend today, one that wasn't postponed. It's a small, COVID-restricted affair, but she would not miss it.
Everyone is different. That makes the world interesting, enjoyable, and occasionally, dangerous.
I received a text at work last week, just before lunch. Someone I knew in high school died.
I never knew her particularly well. We were acquaintances who had one casual date. She seemed very straight-laced. I know she'd gone on to a successful career, and that she'd married and had children. We did not keep in touch. A discussion on Skype with the sender of the text revealed more.
She had some health problems, and struggled, secretly, for some years, with addiction. One child remained close. The other had mental health problems and lost contact. The family knows that child had a child who was taken from her. My old acquaintance died not even knowing the sex of her grandchild or where they might be now.
She entered rehab, determined to beat her addiction. Instead, she died.
As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.
Having never returned to my home town since my mother's funeral, I did not know that in the last couple years my old elementary school had closed, and is now undergoing renovations, becoming seniors apartments. Pictures online reveal exposed wood and a new sloping roof being constructed over the old flat-top we clambered onto on weekends and evenings to retrieve stray balls. The doors, curiously, remain the same shade of blue I recall. A photograph of the last Eighth Grade class features a fraction of the number in my graduation photo, three classrooms of kids born the last year before the birth rate dropped below pre-war numbers. Kids whose lives included free-range child-rearing, laughs in the shadow of industry, and a sexual predator protected by adults who had an excellent idea of what was happening.
I shouldn't be surprised by the state of the old school. That neighbourhood rocketed into existence post-World War II, took its shape in the 1950s and 1960s, and has been in decline for some years. Parts of it had started to look derelict and run down, last time I walked around, and the city itself holds fewer people than it once did. In my memory, my street always has clusters of kids. It's a challenge for me to imagine it emptied.
Striking a more positive note, the Publishers Weekly advance review of my forthcoming "comedic whirlwind" of a novel, based on an uncorrected proof, is, in the main, good. I wish they had gestured to the fact that the novel has deeper levels, but I suppose indicating that my "absurdist" work is funny and has interesting characters makes a better pitch to readers, and I have to be prepared for a range of reviews in any case. This book won't be for everyone. PW notes that the convoluted plot and unreliable narrator can make matters confusing at times. Those elements are features, not bugs. Whether you read the novel as science fiction or skewed realism depends entirely on how credible you find Telfryn's tale. The Con does not exist separate of its principal narrator.
My editor asked me at one point if I had a preferred reading.
On that matter, I remain silent.
So a wedding has been postponed, and COVID will mar the last Halloween I'll see that falls on a Saturday with a full moon.* But I've decided it won't stop it, entirely.
I started working today on my Plague Doctor costume.
*Even rarer-- it will be a full blue moon this year. A number of Halloweens will fall on Saturday OR have a full moon within my plausible life-span, but the next triple convergence won't be until some time after the centenary of my birth.