One of my best friends in the entire world just published her first book.
It’s called Pedal.
Because it is brilliant.
Today I sat down and read it in one sitting.
By the time I got to the last ten pages my heart was racing, and my face was flushed.
Upon turning the last page, I could no longer keep in my hot, fat tears – my heart swelling with unbridled happiness, with fierce incredulity, and overwhelming awe.
I first met Chelsea Rooney nine years ago in the fall of 2005 when were both admitted to UBC’s creative writing undergraduate program.
Right away I recognized her to be the most talented writer in our class. I’ll never forget reading her first short story in our fiction seminar. To say that I was blown away is a major understatement. I was so fascinated and moved by her writing that I read the entirety of her first workshopped story over the phone to my mother.
Her mastery of the written word left me galvanized and inspired. She made me want to produce magic of my own.
Besides (or perhaps because of) the beauty and depth of her prose, I was also enthralled with her as a person.
A couple of years my senior, she just seemed so epically cool.
I remember her showing up to class one day with one of the Styrofoam coffee cups from The Deli – a take-out eatery in the basement of the university’s student union building that offered a seemingly arbitrary cornucopia of pseudo-healthy options for the student on the run. Always one to buck the trends, my most frequent purchases at this establishment were hot chocolate and giant chocolate chip cookies.
I had just assumed that she too (along with everyone else in the world) would be drinking Deli hot chocolate. When she laughed gently and corrected me, stating that that she was, in fact, drinking coffee, I quaked.
Of course she would be drinking coffee. She was way too cool to drink hot chocolate.
She also wore long maxi skirts, and mid-drift baring tank tops, and eschewed bras, and make-up, and every time I looked at her I just thought, “I want to be just like her.”
While friends, we never really formally cemented our friendship until we both stayed on at UBC after completing our undergraduate degrees. She, as an MFA candidate in the writing program, and myself as a political science MA.
We’d eat nachos and drink diet coke every Wednesday afternoon at the campus’ newly erected, and over-priced Irish bar.
We would sit in a corner table and laugh and laugh until our stomachs felt they might rip in two.
Five years on, we still do this.
Both laugh and eat nachos.
Only now we walk more.
And I drink coffee.
If I could tell you one thing (other than to purchase her book) it is that Chelsea has the most beautifully expressive eyes.
They reflect and refract the infinite wisdom and wonder that shape a magnificent human being.
I often find myself getting lost in their splendour, these wise, limpid pools of possibility.
And wonder what story will surface next.