Corinne’s silences are photographic.
You see it when she ruminates on an idea, or a memory – the light dancing on the surfaces of things, the grain of the image, the contrast of her thoughts.
She inhabits space like a Polaroid, undergoing an alchemical transformation as we wait for the precious memory to be revealed.
Then she bursts out laughing.
“It was stressful for me, taking part in Foule. You know, I get tired of listening to myself talk after an hour. It’s rough!
I did it to get out of my comfort zone.
Camille pushed me. She said, ‘C’mon, you’ll see, it’ll be fun.’
And she was right! When you break out of your comfort zone, you feel better after.”
Her calm voice possesses an intelligence that suffuses everything she describes. The books in our hands, the works appearing before our eyes.
“Camille and I go to the museum a lot.
Whenever we feel down, we know we can always go to the museum. We’re sure to fall in love with something.”
Corinne knows the key to happiness lies in those things we seek out for ourselves, not the ones life foists on us. Listening to her you hear traces of Marguerite Duras, Annie Ernaux, Marie Ndiaye, Martine Delvaux – a poetics of everyday life.
“I do a lot of things just for the fun of it.
The other day I was talking with a friend about people who are always asking ‘What’s your dream job?’ He said, ‘I don’t have a dream job. Because my dream isn’t to work....’
And I was like, ‘Yes! That’s it! I just want to do the things I love.’
That’s why my dream is to be part of the publishing industry. Because it would be a way to develop my love of reading, while promoting culture, all the wonderful things we create in Quebec.”
And through this form of self-care, Corinne would also care for others and help build something positive.
“The feminist action whereby a woman chooses to join her voice to those of other women, because she knows that the seeds of resistance and change grow in the soil of solidarity.”
- Martine Delvaux, Sexe, amour et pouvoir
One reason Corinne doesn’t like hearing herself talk too much is that she’s so passionate about other people’s words and new emerging discourses. That’s what led her to study literature in university.
“Since I wanted to go into publishing. My goal was to immerse myself in what’s happening in literature right now, to learn as much as possible about our literary ecosystem.”
“In CEGEP, I was already in a literature program. But we stuck to the classics – pretty much cis white men. When I shifted my focus to Quebec literature, I began to discover more women’s voices. Things snapped into focus.”
The power of women’s writing and feminist discourses called to Corinne even outside her readings, and buttressed her worldview. Gender inequality is one thing that causes Corrine to raise her voice.
“What particularly outrages me – with the widespread movement of calling out harassers and the list of abusers published online in 2020 – is the presence of ‘boys’ clubs.’ All those guys who act like they’re progressive, like activists, but when the chips are down they cover for each other.
It makes me sick.
The worst is how people seem to love them, idolize them. But fundamentally, these ‘boys’ clubs’ incarnate the values they claim to stand against.”
Corinne observed, took notes, and sprang into action. “I do what I can,” she says. And throughout this debate, she knows that there is strength in being conscious of her role, her privileges, her agency.
“I’m doing fine, really.
Well, of course there’s systemic racism. That never goes away!
But I still enjoy a lot of privilege. I grew up in a good home. I go to university. I have a good student job.
But it still really troubles me. That I have this degree of privilege, but it isn’t accessible to everyone.”
For Corinne, turning a blind eye to social injustices is no longer an option.
“We have no choice but to act now. Because it’s everywhere, like gangrene.
The first step is to be aware of what’s happening.
Next, we have to analyze how systems work, how we’ve been raised.
Examine the shapes our relationships take, how we experience our sexuality.”
“Can we think of feminism without thinking of love?”
- Martine Delvaux, Le monde est à toi
Corinne has performed the self-analysis that Martine Delvaux calls for. And it brought her together with one of the most beautiful people in her life: Camille.
To understand, we have to flip back a few pages in the photo album, before she got involved in literature.
“When we met, I was studying archeology. First year university.
One day Camille held the door open for me.
She thought I was pretty cute.
She saw me going into the archeology students’ union, and for the first time in her life it suddenly seemed like an interesting place to be!”
She laughs tenderly. Snapshot of a cloud of dust being kicked up.
“At first, when we’d hang out, I didn’t realize we were out on dates.
I really thought we were just friends!
We’d talk until two in the morning. She’d walk me home.
I never saw the signs.
Then she told me how she felt. And I was like, ‘Duh. Of course!’
After that, we started officially dating.”
“She was my first girlfriend. That’s why I was so clueless.
I’d had little flings before, but never a serious relationship.”
For many people, a romantic relationship with a person of the same sex marks the beginning of a process of identification with the LGBTQIA2+ community, with realities outside of heteronormativity. For Corinne it was different.
“I don’t feel the need to label myself.
I’m aware that it’s a privilege not having to. But I also know myself. And it’s not something I feel the need to do.”
Corinne is part of a new generation, who can enjoy loving relationships without the need for labels.
“It’s the same for my friends, I think.
I can see a degree of liberation, with the people I’m closest to.
I think it’s generational. A certain openness. Just like: who cares? People care less about gender – it doesn’t matter if the person you’re dating is a woman, or a man, or non-binary.
There’s still lots of discrimination, in all different spheres, that’s for sure.
But in downtown Quebec City, La Cité-Limoilou, there’s something in people’s mentalities, and the diversity that’s all around, that make it so that I haven’t seen much of that prejudice. And I grew up here.”
This self-assured freedom smudges out the shadows. It freezes the light falling on objects, in the windows, onto her clasped hands.
“Camille and I have been together three years now.
We’re really tight – we do everything together.
And it got worse since we moved in together.
She’s my best friend, so we have a lot of fun.
For now, we’re both working from home, in different rooms.
Then we phone each other and pretend we’re setting up a meeting!”
“I think we both feel like this is one of the first times we’ve been able to really be ourselves.”
“Sometimes I think the test of a friendship is how well you can deal with silence. Just be there, together. Not say anything, not do anything.”
- Martine Delvaux, C’est quand le bonheur?
“I think love is a big part of my life.
It’s kind of sappy I guess, but my friends also fill up a big part of this space. That’s what makes me feel good.”
Corinne is surrounded by different and complementary models of love. Above all, they are woven into her daily life through a number of simple, but valuable, gestures.
“Camille is always doing little things to show she cares.
Like, say I’m making breakfast. I’ll turn around, and she’ll have pulled out a plate for me.
She’s constantly doing little things like that, that show she’s thinking of me.
My friends are also a bit like family. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. We can just hang out and watch a movie, and have a great night.
Or just have dinner together, and then do the dishes.”
“Just being close is so important.”
This simple but deep form of love is inspired by Camille’s family life, where the importance of intimacy combines with moments of tenderness.
“We’re a tight-knit family.
But my parents never actually lived together. They’ve been a couple forever, and own a duplex together, but don’t live together there. My mom had the upper two floors, my dad the lower two floors.
And I remember how my mother would often come wake up my brother or me, we would go lie down in the bed of whoever was still sleeping, and just talk.
We were just so comfortable together.”
The orange light of sunrise through the curtains.
It’s morning. Corinne and Camille, Corinne’s mother, friends, a table. You can’t see them in the photos, but you can sense the laughter.
Nothing’s perfect. But some things can be easy.
Simply enjoying each other’s company.