Back in 2008 when I was still living in Montreal, I joined a writing group in California in anticipation of our move there. I was taking a leave of absence from my job at McGill in order to try my luck at fiction writing and knew if I had any chance of taking myself seriously as a writer, I needed to have structure and community. I was nervous that first day driving over to the writing group, feeling like a fraud in the world of fiction, in any writing world outside of academia.
That first meeting was held at Kira’s house and she met me at the door with her warm, bright smile, introduced me to the other four women in the group, fed me tea, and made me feel at home. That writing group became my anchor as my leave of absence turned into a permanent departure from academia. For the next ten years, they kept me focused on my aspirations and taught me to how to write fiction. Eventually, the group began to meet less regularly and then not at all. Other groups and communities have since filled my writing life, but I think of that original group with much fondness and gratitude.
So, it was such a pleasure when I started swimming in the San Francisco Bay during the pandemic to run into Kira! The first time I saw her at the sandy cement circle at Albany Bulb, my heart did somersaults of glee. Since then, it’s always a pleasure to swim with her and today we celebrated her birthday! A big crew showed up join her for a celebratory swim followed by treats and coffee.
The sun was out and it wasn’t particularly windy, but the waves were full of energy, making for a fun ride. Toward the end, a gulp (I had to look that up) of cormorants converged right where we were swimming. I stopped to marvel at their graceful flight. Eventually, I decided I should try and take a video, but it took me forever to open my phone because the movement of the waves caused my phone to think I was driving (that made me laugh) and I had to convince it I wasn’t before I could take a video. They were mostly gone by the time I managed it, but I caught a few.