On shaking hands with idols and falling in love with home

“Don’t you want to meet Wayne Johnston? He’s just standing there, looking all lonely.”

“No…no no no no no. No.”

I had anticipated getting my favourite author’s autograph the moment I found out I’d be attending the Writers at Woody Point festival. I tweeted about it. I posted it on Facebook. And there I was, no more than 10 feet away from him, and I couldn’t budge.

“Well, I’m going to talk to him,” said Sarah, a new friend. “And you have to come.”

I dutifully followed behind her as she struck up a casual conversation while I stood there clutching my newly purchased copy of A World Elsewhere and grinning like an idiot. I punctuated their conversation with head nods and laughter. His eyes darted to my book and he began reaching for his pen inside his blazer as I broke out into a nervous sweat. Mother of god it was hot. Ten minutes earlier I was wrapped in my jacket against the breeze flowing through the open windows of the Heritage Theatre, and suddenly there I was standing with weak knees and sweat pooling on my chin as I melted inside a piece of nylon.

Finally he turned to me. “Did you want me to sign your book?”

“Actually,” I said. “I want you to sign this one.” I hauled out my 6000-page Colony of Unrequited Dreams and thrust it at him. He was amused. “This thing has taken a beating,” he said. My pages were crinkled with water spillage, the cover creased and hard to open. I found it last year in an old take-out food joint in Cape Breton, an eerily fitting symbol of my sudden loss of direction. One specific page dog-eared to mark a mantra I had poured over time and time again throughout the past year. Funny, for I am no fan of Joey Smallwood.

Out poured the verbal diarrhea.

“There’s a part, in this book, where Joey Smallwood is on the train in Cape Breton, and like, he’s seeing everything for the first time and realizing how different Newfoundland is, you know? And I’m like, a travel writer! And this is exactly how I feel every time I leave Newfoundland!!! Omg I’m sorry for being such a fan girl!!”

Yeah, I said that. Fan girl. I could barely fucking breathe.

He laughed and signed my book, and then my new one, and then I leaped away like a deer in a meadow. Oh glorious week! Oh magical Woody Point!

“Magical.” Surreal. How strange to be in my own homeland, just eight hours away from my city, and feel in a different world. My heart aches for Gros Morne and Woody Point. There’s a story in all this, but I haven’t teased it out yet. To be part of this festival and community and its lack of formalities, reclined on the water taxi breathing in the salt air with the chatter of voices and the chords of fiddle music and the starry sky wrapped around my head. To cruise through fjords with heart hammering in excitement over what’s around the next bend. To sit in an art gallery with a bunch of strangers for an impromptu jam session until sunrise, with guitars and handsome musicians and the beating of an ugly stick. How have I only unearthed such a small part of this island? How lucky I am to be born where I belong.

There’s a story in all this.

  • August 24 2011
    Steph M

    Candice this post is just amazing. I know how you feel about Gros Morne and Woody point in Particular, I worked there for two years, and sometimes I just daydream about being back there.

    • August 26 2011

      AGHH I know! Even just for part of the year, ya know?

  • August 24 2011

    I love this. :)

  • August 24 2011

    I was so happy for you reading this, Candice… I could feel myself smiling!
    I’m sure anyone would be thrilled you were their fan girl.
    It could be an experiment, though… first you tell someone you’re a fan girl,
    then I’ll stroll in and say the very same thing… I bet I know who gets the best response!

    • August 26 2011

      Hehehe, might take you up on that idea!

  • August 24 2011

    Such a great and happy post! =) I am so happy that you are happy!

    • August 26 2011

      Thanks Cammy! I feel so out of touch with you lately, I’m sorry! We’ll have to catch up soon.

  • August 24 2011

    I am so jealous that you were born where you were born. I was only able to spend 10 short days in Newfoundland but it absolutely took my breath away. Gros Morne is by far one of the most incredible places I have ever seen, for a variety of reasons. I have nothing but spectacular things to say!

    Newfoundland is such a special place. Enjoy every bit of it, girl! :)

    • August 26 2011

      I’m glad you still got to spend 10 days here! :) That’s more than most!

  • August 25 2011

    Love this.
    You’re so lucky to have found something you have such a passion for – it radiates from everything you’ve written about this trip :) I can’t wait to hear about your current trip!
    You make me more sure than anything that I need to save a good chunk of my vacation days for travelling here within my own province… who needs Cuba? Sure as heck not me! I just wanna go back to Gros Morne. . .

    I knew next to nothing about Newfoundland before I moved here… and now I am ever so thankful for everything in my life that led me to living here. How lucky am I to have ended up where I belong? :)

    • August 26 2011

      I love love love love it! Still wanna buy that house. So badly.

  • August 25 2011

    This was so lovely. I especially loved the last little bit. I wish I could say the same about myself, but I have yet to figure out where I’m supposed to be.
    And I also get totally jittery and sweaty and fan girly in front of authors I love. And then I talk to much and look like an ass. It’s pretty awesome. In a horrible way.

    • August 26 2011

      You’ll find it, and if not, then the whole world is your home. :)

      Ugh, damn those authors and their fancy words.

  • August 25 2011

    Can I make a movie based on your life? :)

    • August 26 2011

      PLEASE! And then we’ll make a movie about making a movie about my life.

  • August 26 2011

    As I’ve said to you before: I get this. I have the same love for my home turf, the mountains, the old gold mine tunnels, the first snow, the lavish scent of lilacs in the spring. The roots run deep.

    I think that is why I loved St. John’s and Newfoundland so much, because I could sense the roots made of rock reaching deep down into the mantle of the earth. There is nothing quite so poignant, so heart-wrenchingly sweet as love of home.

    • August 26 2011

      It’s true! So much history and home and culture. I love it. And I actually got a similar feeling in BC, people there just care about their province.

  • August 26 2011

    That picutre of the mittens and scoks makes my heart happy, like getting an autograph from a favorite writer.

    • August 26 2011

      I bought some socks! But they don’t fit…

  • August 28 2011

    There’s nothing like being where you belong is there?

  • August 29 2011

    I laughed out loud so hard. Thanks for your honesty! It feels much easier to be a dork when you’re not the only one. I walked up to my favorite author two years back to have a book signed and said “Thank God you exist.” I’m not kidding.
    He was SLIGHTLY weirded out.

    • August 30 2011

      Bahaha! Thank god you exist. I’ll use that line next time.

  • August 29 2011

    Where’s a cell pic of the autograph stalking/meeting? LOL.

    • August 30 2011

      Ughh, you’d THINK I would remember that much!

  • August 30 2011

    Candice, you are hilarious, as is your “verbal diarrhea” :) As for you leaping away like a deer in a meadow, as funny as that line is, with that description I can actually picture how you left the scene of the book signing. You should write a book with a comedic edge, and maybe Wayne Johnston will come to one of your book signings some day.

    • August 30 2011

      Hahaha, that’s exactly how it was, except I was still dripping in sweat! Ye gads.

      Oh man, can you imagine if he did show up at one of my book signings?! Sigh. To dream.

  • September 03 2011

    fangirls unite! Love the leaping deer line–definitely captures the giddy fangirl feeling. :)

    • September 06 2011

      Oh man, the leaping and prancing!!! At least we’re not mooning over Justin Bieber, right?

  • November 12 2013

    I know how you feel, I met an idol of mine for the second time a year ago and when he saw me he said “hey, I know you…” – I was actually starstruck… Felt like a little girl :-P

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