By Cindy Milstein
I keep meaning to write something about the abrupt halt to my “Dispatches from Maple Spring” posts —written during the best summer of my life in the rebellious, romantic city of Montreal. In fact, I have two unfinished stories languishing in my WordPress box and several pieces I’ve been meaning to write. Hopefully I’ll have the energy, focus, and stomach for writing again soon about the Quebec student strike and other related politics, but also, first, about the surreal turn in my own life.
The short version, for now, is: both my parents got seriously sick at the same time, but my dad profoundly so. I stayed up all night in Montreal some 3.5 weeks ago to decide what to do. It hurt more than I can express to leave Montreal, suddenly, unexpectedly, just before the monthly big demonstration and especially the elections, and without saying good-bye, although little did I know that I’d not be returning any time soon. It felt wrong to stay. So as the sun was coming up over the streets of the Mile-End neighborhood that I’d come to so love and feel at home in, I stood at an intersection, quiet and gorgeous in the early morning light, and wept. I then headed to the airport, flew to my folks’ hometown in Michigan, and went directly to an intensive care unit that has become home for the past few weeks.
In one of many ironies these days, my last post’s title— “Fragility & Heartbreak” —has hit home way too personally, I’m afraid. And the uncertainty and sorrow aren’t going away any time soon. That’s the fragility. The heartbreak is another matter: when life is neither life nor death, and the fork in the road that will clarify which direction things will go is still only conceptual, with nary a signpost in sight.
Today, in another irony, and perhaps the impulse for this short post, the collaborative book project I’ve worked on for over 1.5 years—with Erik Ruin as artist and me as writer for our picture-essays, and Josh MacPhee as designer and “foreword” author—and was so excited about seeing, finally arrived at PM Press. At one of the most dystopian moments of my life, maybe even the most dystopian one so far, my Paths toward Utopia is in print. I don’t much feel like celebrating.