Two days ago, I had lunch with Margaret Atwood as part of the contest sponsored by the Toronto Public Library. I won’t go into exhaustive detail here, as I’m still trying to recall everything that we saw and talked about that day, but here’s a mental Impressionist painting of some of my memories of the event:
My realization, when I first saw her in person, that she looked like any other regular person walking down the street.
My idiotic grin, miles wide, when she shook my hand. I was worried that it still felt greasy from my hand cream.
A bridge over a ravine in an uptown Toronto neighbourhood. The snow was falling, and everyone was coated in grey. People walking by with their dogs.
The faces and personas of the other contest winners I met – by turns gleeful, knowing, hopeful, and animated.
Passing by the memorial statue on University Avenue which Margaret Atwood called “Gumby Goes to Heaven.”
The feeling of surprise and appreciation when she gave me and the other three contest winners a limited-edition silkscreen of one of her poems on thick, handmade paper.
The intense flavour of the lemon tart I had for dessert at the meal we shared. It was so wonderfully sour that my tongue became sore and I couldn’t finish it.
The hug I gave two of the other contest winners as I left them and boarded the subway that would begin to take me home. Again, my smile, still miles wide.