#ProjectNomad isn't the first time that Prince Edward Island has served as a sort of sanctuary for me. In the fall of 2010, after I signed with a literary agent but before I got my first book deal, I holed up in a cottage on the island's south shore to work on revisions of THE PROFESSIONALS.
By the time I left those cottages, I had a two-book deal with a major publisher, and a career path I could see opening up in front of me.
I returned to Prince Edward Island to fish for lobster with my dad in the spring of 2011. Again, the timing was pretty good; I'd been living in Toronto with my longtime girlfriend, but it had become apparent that though we loved each other very much, there were things we each wanted to do with our lives that weren't necessarily compatible with what the other wanted.
In April, we agreed to take a break, and I left Toronto not knowing where I would wind up when the fishing season ended.
Fishing is a wonderful occupation if you need to do some serious thinking. The work is by and large tedious and repetitive, and the fresh air and beautiful surroundings are never anything less than inspirational.
I used my time on the boat to come up with a list of daily #lobsterpuns. I also wrote the second book for my publisher, and plotted out a third. And I planned a life-changing summer for when the lobster season ended in early July.
It became the Summer of Yes, and it was in many ways a precursor to this #ProjectNomad.
Essentially, I just said yes to a lot of things. Did I want to go to New York and meet my editor and publisher? Yes. Would I like to have dinner with a writer's group in Minnesota who'd admired my lobster puns? Yes. Vegas with my brother? Sure. How about a trip to North Carolina to visit the buddy who'd always invited me to go? Why not?
It was more than just travel, obviously, but travel provided the framework. I'd spent two months living in isolation in a tiny fishing village, and now I launched out into the wide world again like a rocket, determined to present a more confident, outgoing and attractive face to those I met on my travels.
The Summer of Yes is how I wound up driving across the country twice in a few months, once with a woman I'd never met in person before, and once with two of my best friends, their toddler and two complaining cats.
It's how I found myself having a ridiculously fun night at a gay bar in the Mirage in Las Vegas, and how I wound up in a ride-along with a Minnesota policeman. It's how I won a game of Risk played on a gigantic table, and accepted a trophy for the honour. I sang karaoke with strangers and had bonfires on the beach.
It's how I jumped off a cliff into the ocean, climbed a mountain in flip flops, got stoned for the first time, and found myself at a fetish party in a greasy downtown bar.
I tried to say yes. I tried to have new experiences. I tried to believe I was a good-looking, successful, kind person who other people would want to know. And it worked.
The Summer of Yes was a landmark summer in my life. I kept moving and didn't look back. I met people who would have a major impact on my life, for good and for bad, in the years to come. I forged friendships that I still treasure to this day.
By October of that year, I'd found an apartment in Vancouver. I had a strong social circle and a sense that the things I'd always wanted to do in my life were well within reach. And I would do many of those things in the years ahead.
I'm a little bit older now, obviously. My perspective has changed, and my priorities are different.
But as I set out on this second phase of #ProjectNomad, with Lucy and my truck and only a vague idea of where we'll end up, I hope I can recapture that sense of freedom, of possibility and of belief in my self that made the Summer of Yes so successful.