As someone who has spent most of my adult life travelling and working abroad, if I know about anything, it’s goodbyes. And the constant of change. Both of which I still detest. But both of which inundate all of us, ready or not, and so are best approached like an icy dip: quickly, and without too much standing around. So I have a good-bye to say, and a change to embrace.
My family and I are moving overseas. And while it’ll be coming with me, The Out And Abouter will be going through an adjustment as well.
Our reasons for going are many, but I will say this: the life of an aspiring writer (in Canada or elsewhere) offers even slimmer prospects than the skinny ones that most people probably imagine. I’m lucky enough to have a regular job that gives me time to put out new content with some frequency, and the portability of that profession (I’m a seafarer) means our family can be based in a variety of places. And so, after years of chasing an ever-receding Toronto housing market, we’re going to take advantage of both our mobility and the fact my wife is British, and are moving with our two young kids to a spot in the green hills south of London, in the U.K.
I’ve thought long and hard about what this means to this little page, which in just over three years has grown from a handful of my neighbours, family, and friends, to over 20,000 regular readers across a variety of platforms. The main change is going to be less of the strictly Canadian-related content. This will be partly because I obviously won’t be here, but mostly because it feels misleading for me to operate from the perspective of a nation I’m not firmly rooted in. Much as I will always love – and identify with – this strange, sprawling conglomeration of provinces, permafrost, and poutine.
There will still be satire. Many of the posts on this page are about the things that affect us all; like climate change, the rise of nationalism, incompetent leaders, poor customer service, and the excellence of animals, both in their own right and as a foil for our own flaws and attributes. On those subjects I’ll keep writing, and putting out thoughts there. But the frequency is going to slow as well.
That’s because there’s something else. A book that has been impatiently waiting its turn to be written has now started shouting plot lines, characters, and settings at me – whether I’m ready or not. And while I’ve loved creating 4-5 satirical articles a week for the past few years, it has meant living entirely in what is a grinding news cycle, and ignoring other writing projects along the way. This move provides as good a reason as any to reconnect with that longer-form voice. It’s a deeper, more nuanced, and less breathless approach than the rapid-fire acerbity that the daily satire gig asks for, and I’m looking forward to working that field again for the first time in a while. If people are interested, I’ve been thinking about sharing more of those efforts on here, alongside the satire.
I’m writing this today because I’ve started packing up the shed that I wrote in while I lived here, and began The Out And Abouter in. And because tonight I’m going to take part in a ritual that started when I was kid, and one which is my way of saying good-bye to a city that I grew up in, and then returned to to start my own family. I’m joining my dad for a Jays game.
We’re going to sit in the dome and watch the current iteration of a team that we’ve cheered ourselves hoarse pulling for over the years. He’ll sing the anthem out of tune. We’ll talk politics and big themes (a family obsession), and when the nine innings are over, we’ll spill out onto Bremner Blvd. along with the rest of the milling mix of jerseyed fans.
And then dad will give me his customary good-bye, and it’s the one I’ll leave you with too. A transplant from the west coast to Toronto, I grew up listening to him catching up with the family back in Victoria on Sunday evenings, speaking down the crackly telephone lines that stretch across all that land. And when it came time to end a particular Sunday evening conversation, he would always do it with the same three words. Short ones that still manage to contain in them both a parting, and a promise.
“Bye for now.”