Richie and I are coming up to a change in our lives – we’re leaving our community of peers in Lethbridge, AB after four remarkable years here. When we came here in 2012 neither of us really had any idea what to expect. We thought we’d be here for 9 months, the duration of Richie’s first contract with the U of L, and then we’d be gone back to Toronto or Halifax or San Francisco or Berlin or…. who knew? What actually happened is that in November 2012 I stopped touring full time for the first time in 12 years, and in the summer of 2013 Richie signed a 3 year term contract with the U of L. We started working with Jay Whitehead to produce plays, cabarets, concerts and events and together opened up a space for the queer community to come together. The space and community grew, as did the number of events, and we ended up touring our productions throughout Canada and to Europe, producing week-long queer arts festivals, having a documentary film made about our work and creating with many different artists from Alberta. Richie ended up teaching and connecting with hundreds and hundreds of students and teaching/creating eight different courses at the U of L. I facilitated dozens of art shows for the U of L’s Penny Gallery, sound/set/projection designed dozens of shows and co-created the multimedia concert NATION with Nick Bottomley.
As our time winds down here, what’s emerging for me as the most important part of our time here is the resulting community that we’re a part of. If you look at what’s happening in most developed parts of the world, as the state takes more and more responsibility for the well-being and protection of citizens, it’s community and family that lose their power. It’s generally expected that young people will move away from their families after high school, and generally expected they’ll likely move away from their university city too. Major changes are the most reliable part of our lives it seems. Strong communities take time and above all commitment to form.
This is just what we’re doing now; uprooting ourselves from a community that we’ve been committed to building and being a part of for a few years, which is difficult. The reason we’re leaving though, to be closer to family, is one of the things that helps ease the transition. In our time here, we’ve seen increasingly less of our families, including our original community of best friends we made in our formative years. Furthermore, we’ve got some dreams of traveling together, and it’s all too easy to let a day-to-day grind postpone dreams or plans indefinitely.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about upcoming changes in our lives, but we’re doing our best to be grateful for what we’ve experienced and to remember that we get to take a part of that with us forever.