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Big news in the family forces me to get moving.

Hey everyone,

Welcome to the first episode of Season Two!

For anyone new here, One Word is a memoir documentary series inspired by everyday life. These films are a version of my family’s experiences, collected and distilled to better navigate the road ahead, and I’m humbled that you’ve taken the time out of your day to watch them.

I’m pushing myself in Season Two to experiment with new ways of telling stories. So for MOVING, I’m breaking the film into three parts, or chapters, and releasing them over the next few weeks.

I’m also excited to share that all the music in MOVING was provided by Toronto-based ambient artist Daniel Field, who goes by the moniker Kilometre Club. It’s a true honour to weave his sounds into the project. I’ve been a fan of his for years now. In fact, I interviewed Daniel in one of my earliest One Word essays, Futures.

I gathered most of the music in MOVING from two specific albums, An Alphabet of Distance and Nightwalker, so if you enjoy what you hear, go give the albums a listen.

As always, you can read the written version below, but I highly recommend you watch MOVING: Part One.

See you next week.

- T


Time moves one second per second. Every moment of every day: one second per second. And yet, since my last film, Woodbine, it feels like time is moving faster and faster.

Everything is moving so fast; I have to finish this One Word now, because soon we won’t have any time.

Stace is eight months pregnant with our second child. In a matter of weeks, our lives will change forever, just as they did with the birth of Atlas.

Our lives have already changed so much, and I don’t think this feeling is going away anytime soon. Because not only are we expecting baby number two, but we sold our house in the suburbs and we’re moving back to Toronto.

Part I | Moving House

Why does moving feel so close to ruin?

Even a promising move, like this one, carries a destructive energy. I’m taking down the pieces and not sure how I’ll reassemble them on the other side.

We lived here for five years. The Covid years. Lockdowns and rapid tests and staycations. Quick and hazy years trapped in the fluorescent blue of the TV screen.

But this house also contained the first few years with Atlas. So despite its fleeting nature, I’ll miss this place. I’ll miss the red-drenched sunsets and how, on rainy Sunday afternoons, sequestered on the edge of nothing and shrouded from the highway by the milkweed and sumac, we felt like the only family on earth.

Moving. Packing boxes and choosing what to keep and what to throw away. I kept all my books but gave away the desk. It was my grandfather’s desk. I called my grandfather Skinny Papa. He bought the desk at Sears.

I started One Word sitting here, back when just a few friends read my words — before I thought about picking up a camera, before strangers across the world began following along.

On the eve of moving day, I drove the desk to my cousin’s house. It was uncomfortable and the surface was too small for all my stuff… but I’ll miss the link to my past.

When moving, the things I never liked are suddenly infused with emotion, such as Bolton’s downtown strip that never seemed to wake from its long, uneventful sleep.

I’ll even miss mowing the lawn. And I hated mowing the lawn.

I wanted to film one last interview here, so before I handed the real estate agent the keys to the house, my friend Sadiq came by. He builds and assembles things, just like me. He’s also the smartest person I know.

We set up a few cameras in the backyard and I asked him what I should do about the black hole I brought into the narrative at the end of Woodbine.

I had this idea where we’d pretend the hole was on the fence, and I would ask him if it would move house with us or something. Sadiq cut away all that artifice and dropped this on me instead:

“I think the physicality of the hole no longer matters. It's probably not relevant anymore, because one way or another it's now this thing that lives on in your film or even in your psyche. Maybe you're gonna pass this concept of a hole down a couple of generations.

“So I think the physical hole is no longer there but somehow it's already made it into your consciousness and you've made this connection. So I guess the question is: what place is it going to take?

“In your life — in your own internal universe — what does this thing now symbolize? Because before the point where you saw it, there was this thing that would float in your mind about black holes and death… it symbolized death to you.

“But now there's a physical instantiation of the thing in your life and also in your mind. You probably vividly remember the texture around the wood that rotted and had this hole in it. So there is now a physical instantiation of a black hole in your mind is kind of the way I look at it.

“It’s no longer there physically. The hole was open for a minute, you saw it, it entered your mind, and now it's gone.”

Sadiq is right. When I revealed the hole in Woodbine, whether I meant to or not, I made it a part of my family’s story. I don’t have to show it for it to exist. I don’t have to pretend. It’s here.

But why is it here? What does it want?

It’s been 9 months since I made Woodbine, and if I had another 9 months, I don’t know if I could give Sadiq an answer. It’s a puzzle I cannot solve. Maybe it’s not meant to be solved.

“I had this conversation with Mikal1,” said Sadiq, “about going and like finding some new weird podcast or book and then going and reading it and overanalyzing the thing or trying to intellectualize the content. I don't even need to do that. It's just intellectual masturbation.”

“Right,” I say. “It can be a pit.”

“Yeah, so like not getting caught. For instance, that book we were both reading. Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Reading it for what it was and leaving it alone and not going and changing course or getting too distracted by it. This was very, very important and I was very aware because when I was younger, stuff like that would really rattle me.”

Years ago when I first met Sadiq, I had a dream of him. It’s always been a defining characteristic of who he is to me. Today felt like the right time to share it with him.

“You and I are both in an auditorium,” I said. “Your family's there but it's not just your living family; it’s people that are long dead or maybe even people yet to be born. It was all these people and they were all really focused on your success.

“You're going up to talk and I was in one of the rows — you know three four rows back. I thought, ‘Man, if I'm going to hang around you, I can't waste your time.’ I've always kept that as a thing. Of course, you shouldn’t waste anybody's time, but in particular, I shouldn’t waste your time.”

“You know it's so funny,” Sadiq replied, “because I feel like I experience time differently. When I try to follow the world's timeline, that's when I feel the most stress because it's almost like when I have an idea the thing that's going to hold me back from doing the idea is that I want to carry people along at a pace that feels natural.”

As the sun was starting to set, our conversation led to what we were like as kids, and I was reminded of what we have most in common: the courage to take things apart and start again.

“Growing up,” said Sadiq, “and being this person that wants to be an inventor or wanted to be an inventor, I was like well this is just more of the same stuff that I did when I was a child because that mind is still kind of there. Where you just look at the things around you and you start playing with them until you're not scared of it. You interact with it and then the possibility in your mind gets applied to those things.

“So when I say, ‘Oh I’m gonna do X, Y and Z’ it's not because I pulled it out of my ass. It's really the things in front of me that I feel I can assemble to match what's in my mind. It's just what I’m going to do.

“I’m going do it in such a way that feels fun for me. That's why I end up blowing things up and starting over. Many times I’ll be like okay this seems too complicated, let's take it back down and start again.”

After I said goodbye to Sadiq, I walked through the property one last time. That’s what it is now: a property.

When we first moved in, I dreamt of honey dripping from the walls. It terrified me, but now I see that it was a good omen. So much sweetness, so much life moved through these rooms.

To be continued in Part II.


I interviewed Mikal in the episode “NAMES” during season one. Find it here.