While Jack wants to go for poster art again, the problem is he doesn’t have enough time because he has to be making all this money, “the benefit of which is living in the most beautiful city in North America, but it comes at a cost. The agony and the ecstasy.” Jack’s visa runs out in two years, and while he once thought he’d be a “corporate chill” for the rest of his life, he now considers it more of an anomaly, just a chapter – “I like to think of my life episodically, some more appropriate than others.” If in the next two years before his visa runs out, if he doesn’t land a dream job, he’s considering moving to a more affordable place, maybe even back to Startford, our hometown, a place to which we both now hold a deep love and loyalty. After I had this initial conversation with Jack in fact, we convened in Stratford for Christmas, gathering with a few high school friends. Jack always makes these yearly reunions with our hometown a joyfully over the top event (until it gets weird) that I need days to recover from. There’s something about coming from a small town that makes one terribly homesick, and yet for those who did not stay and adhere to the norms of those who stay, they are both lauded for doing something seemingly extraordinary and yet also somewhat looked upon with suspicion.
At the end of our conversation, looking back at his Montreal days compared to his Toronto and New York days, he said it felt like the Montreal days were someone else’s life. Montreal was unrealistic, while school in Toronto and jobs in New York like a “normal person was really humbling.” And I can see the effect of that humility – Jack is far more restrained than I knew him to be in his early days, realistic, more grounded, very critical and practical. “I’d love to have removed all the parts in these stories that were difficult, but, you know, I like being able to buy a return-ticket.” Then he had to go, for the most American reason ever, “because he had to go to Target before it closes.”