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How the Silhouette helped me through this difficult year

Graphic by Sam McBride

I’ve always loved stories. There is something incredibly brilliant and beautiful about the ways in which you can string together ordinary words to create extraordinary tales — tales that challenge, comfort, encourage, inform and inspire.

Last year, after the pandemic was declared in Ontario, classes were cancelled and I moved back to my hometown to be with my family. One of the first things I did was raid the house for any and all books in the house I hadn’t read yet. Stories have gotten me through some of my most difficult days and I knew I would need them to get through this too.

Stack of books
Photo by Nisha Gill

Fast-forward just over a year and I’m still living at home. I’ve read dozens of books, I am halfway through half a dozen more and the stack beside my bed is still growing, albeit at a slightly slower rate.

I’ve read about the fate of unsent letters and The Authenticity Project, the romance between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, the adventures of Hobbits, nurses in Ireland during the Spanish flu, psychotherapy and a hundred more things but it hasn’t just been my books that have helped me through this year — it’s the stories I’ve had the privilege to tell as well.

it hasn’t just been my books that have helped me through this year — it’s the stories I’ve had the privilege to tell as well.

This is the second year I’ve written for the Silhouette; I started out as a contributor last year. I had never written for a newspaper before but was amazed by how much I enjoyed it. I worried that the feeling might dissipate the more I wrote and the less novel the experience was, but it hasn’t.

Maybe in part because there’s always something new. While there are always the same deadlines, there’s never a dull week. I’m always learning something new, getting to interview different people and hear about new projects. This year, especially, I’ve been grateful for the interviews and meetings in particular that break up the monotony of my pandemic days. It gives me something to look forward to as well as a tangible connection to the world outside my home.

While I’ve appreciated living at home again, especially given the pandemic, I’ve missed campus and I’ve missed Hamilton. Last year, writing for the Sil meant that I got to explore downtown and Dundas, to visit artist centres and book stores that might have never been comfortable enough to seek out on my own, whether it was for my own articles or after reading others’. It was an adventure.

This year even though I’ve hardly gone more than a few kilometres away from my house, never mind back to Hamilton, I still feel like I’ve been able to explore Hamilton and learn about some of the wonderful people who make it up.

I used to dread doing interviews — the process feeling even more awkward over Zoom — but the more I’ve done, the easier it’s gotten. It helps that I get to interview so many fascinating and wonderful people about projects and work that they’re very clearly passionate about. I’ve had the chance to learn about travelling tea trailers and how to make chocolate, beading and murals, wigs and the wellness industry, photography and theatre and so many more things. 

It’s something really special to have someone trust you with these stories that are so close to their hearts. I’ve had the privilege and the pleasure to share stories not only about these projects but also about the creativity and resilience of the people behind them.

The people I’ve interviewed inspire me but more than just that, these people and their stories give me a lot of hope. Not just during their interviews but also over the course of the week, as I’m writing my articles, it’s a continuous reminder that even in the craziness and uncertainty of everything there are still good things and good people. 

These people and their stories restore some of my faith in the goodness of the world because if there are this many brilliant, dedicated and passionate people who are doing so much to hold space for and support their communities in just this one city there must be more out there, right?

These people and their stories restore some of my faith in the goodness of the world because if there are this many brilliant, dedicated and passionate people who are doing so much to hold space for and support their communities in just this one city there must be more out there, right?

So many of the stories I’ve written this year have been about the businesses and passion projects that have helped people through these difficult days, so it seems fitting in a way that my final article as A&C Reporter is about the work that has helped me through.

Glasses on book
C/O Trent Erwin

Even when there are a million other things to worry about, all I have to do is open my article drafts of the week and I feel a little bit more at ease. Even when I’m stressed by deadlines and interviews that fell through and articles that still don’t feel quite right, I’m happy. It sounds so simple said like that, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. There is no shortage of complicated things in the world, it’s been good to have something that makes me simply, uncomplicatedly happy.

I’ve been dreading this last article because in a way it means the end of that. But now that it’s actually written, it feels a bit more bittersweet than just sad because it’s not really the end. I still have two years left at McMaster and there will always be more stories out there. Maybe I won’t be the one telling them but I’ll get to read and hear about them and that’s just as good.

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