Fridge art

I have a moment in my writing career I’ll never forget.

My Sunbird was all packed up and I was destined for British Columbia. The boyfriend was flying home from Vancouver — on my mother’s dime — to drive to the other side of the world with me.

My last assignment in Newfoundland was a momentous event. The local high school went to the big city, St. John’s, and stole the 4A high school hockey championship from the bigger, richer schools.

The banner was being raised in front of a school assembly.

Everyone knew I was leaving, after four years of throwing my heart and soul into sports writing in small-town Newfoundland.

The team presented me with a program, autographed by all the players. “Thanks for all the great stories,” a lot of them wrote.

One player took me aside and said, “hey, Ang, can I show you something?”

He pulled a scrapbook out of his backpack and put in my hands. I flipped through the pages.

“It’s everything you ever wrote about me and the team.”

That mattered to me.

Not as much as it did years later.

I moved to a bigger thrice-weekly newspaper. My editor was hard on me. He’s the one who told me I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. His own insecurities drove him to shred his reporters some days for no reason whatsoever.

He had moments of great insight, too.

But like a lot of my mother’s advice, I didn’t figure that out until years later.

He called a lot of what we did “fridge art.”

My colleagues and I found it insulting. How dare he reduce our life’s work, our greatest passion, our storytelling to clipped-out scraps tacked onto a home appliance with magnets.

Years later, after getting laid off from journalism, I started connecting on Facebook with people from my past. Scrapbook Guy was one of them.

We messaged each other and, all grown up and married, he told me he still had that scrapbook.

The stories mattered.

The pictures mattered.

My stories became a part of his story.

Whether my work was tacked onto a refrigerator or pasted into a scrapbook, I was a part of someone’s history.

Ultimately, that’s all that ever mattered: the privilege to tell someone else’s story.

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