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December 31, 2023

Who am I?

Come what may, the pages of the calendar continue to turn over, and I’m still here.

Knock, knock, knock. I’m knocking on the great door and St. Peter isn’t answering. Might I still have a few adventures ahead of me before resting my eyes for good? Who am I, in the end? A scribbler on blank pages?

“You’re a fighter, entrepreneur and a go-getter who can’t be stopped,” rambles my best friend. “Everyone envies your ability to believe that anything is possible. You put yourself out there without a safety net. One door closes and you make your way through the keyhole. If you fall, you bounce right back.”

A few details seem true. Not one ordeal has depleted my energy so far. It’s certainly the best gift I received from above: good health, unfailing endurance, incredible energy and solid determination. Those around me might think I was born this way, but like everybody else, I’ve had years of tears and misery. I finally pulled myself together and out of there. I discovered invaluable courage and its good companions optimism and perseverance.

My qualities as a talented cook helped a great deal. The first years behind the griddle set fire to my creativity, giving birth to an outstanding restaurant concept. To this day, I still love challenges and work well done. Oh yes! Each day is a challenge in itself when I sit to do my morning writing; empty sheets I travel on. The first lines are like a plane taking off: It crawls with its belly close to the ground. The ground protests with friction, but the plane tramples it underneath. It gains momentum, and without too much luggage, a story takes off. Rare words, tough verbs, fancy sentences, the placement of commas. All the steps in writing fascinate me.

I also have an unnerving ability to inhabit my emotions, to express them without a filter. Heavy with thought yet light as a feather, I easily go from funny to dramatic depending on how I feel. I don’t usually censor my words. I make my friends dizzy with a constant swarm of ideas and desires. I like people who are a bit off the wall – artists, dreamers, tinkers and all those who aren’t afraid to show their true colours.

I occasionally revisit my past lives: my childhood in Gaspésie, my parents, my classical studies, the Greek marriage, the Cora restaurant business, and finally, the jewels in the crown: the past three years spent writing on a daily basis. Despite the recent upheavals on our planet, the world never ceases to elicit a sense of wonder within me.

My capacity to make room for friends is boundless. My group of friends at the coffee shop bear witness to that. Whether I feel like it or not, I turn off my tablet when they sit at my table. Even if I’m penning a sublime paragraph, I leave my writer’s bubble and engage with those at my table. After all, my friends are still more important than the pages they often inspire, says my friend Flavius (fictitious name), whose girlfriend had left him. My friend cried, he mourned her and now he’s back, dashing and in high spirits at the thought of finding a new face to love. And so this is how our days fly by; sometimes as slowly as a turtle, other times, as quickly as a life-devouring tornado.

Writing saved me. I remembered, I talked, I told stories and I lightened my load. All those paragraphs darkened with tumultuous moods, tears and silent regrets. All those hand-picked words, hurtful verbs, shocking adjectives. I swallowed them whole like I was starving to death. And like magic, writing fed me. It reassured my heart, healing most of the remaining wounds left untouched.

I feel lighter, giddy and profound at the same time. I tamed writing with a bouquet of flowers in each paragraph. The founder in me, the old warrior, is molting. Her appetites for conquest are now turning into hunts for four-leaf clovers, solid friendships, inspiring readings and cherished pages of writing.

Come what may, the Sunday letters continue to turn over, and I’m still here.