3 min read

Middle, Holding Flowers: Homecoming with Hugo

Before anything else, I need to talk about my family.

It was the last night of Worldcon. I’d retreated from the dead dog party in search of sleep. In order to travel home from Helsinki, I needed to wake up at 4:00 AM to get to the airport by 5:00 AM for a 7:00 AM flight. My itinerary would take me from Helsinki to Stockholm to Frankfurt to Ottawa, and I’d be arriving during rush hour.

I said all this to my family, FaceTiming with them around midnight on the last day of Worldcon, staring down the three hours of sleep I expected to have. “I can just take the bus home,” I said, reasonably. “It’ll take me 20 minutes. You don’t have to drive all the way to the airport in rush hour to pick me up.”

“OK,” said my mother, equally reasonably.

24 hours after that conversation, this happened.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n85kJjXl_1s&w=560&h=315]

They’d beaten rush hour and lain in wait. They’d made banners. My sister came up with “HuGO, Girl!” They got the Moonfruits to come and play music as they sang “Happy Hugo to You” with improvised harmonies. The commotion attracted the attention of a journalist who happened to be there, and suddenly I was being sort of interviewed, with this article in the Ottawa Citizen as the result.

Family Greeting

The Citizen’s caption to this photo describes me, parenthetically, as “Middle, Holding Flowers” — and it feels like poetry, the only poetry accurate to how I’ve felt these past several days, weeks, months. In the middle of such heart-deep joy, and love, holding flowers — arms full, hair wet, unable to speak. There aren’t enough thanks in the world for how I felt in that moment.

There followed a whirlwind of media attention: a Q&A with Megan Gillis at the Citizen, for which she sent me a fancy photographer who took utterly lovely photos, one of which was printed on the freaking front page.

Citizen Front Page

And later that day I had a radio interview with Alan Neal on All in a Day, which was absolutely delightful fun, as always.

I’m doing this backwards. Maybe that’s the only way to do it. I haven’t talked about Worldcon itself, the panels I was on, the wonder and joy of the Hugo ceremony as woman after woman won. I haven’t even written up how incredible May was — from the Nebulas to Wiscon, from surprise win to the enormity of delivering a Guest of Honour speech to hundreds of people and hearing them sing and cry with me — and winning the Hugo happened after I felt I’d already reached the apex of all possible joy, after a wonderful conference in Uppsala, beautiful time spent with dear friends in Stockholm, crossing the Baltic in their company, and going on Helsinki adventures, in addition to a genuinely beautiful con experience. It’s enough to make a body wonder how to be worthy of it.

I feel a powerful need to anchor all this joy to words, to write up every day of this month’s first two weeks. I doubt I’ll be able to achieve that level of granularity that used to characterize Livejournal posts about conventions, where I took great pains to name-check every person I met whose conversation I treasured. It’s an embarrassment of riches, absolutely, to feel that there are too many now to itemize.

But I do want to try, at least, to get the shape of it down. Bear with me, please, as I float in gratitude and try not to ecstatically drown.