This piece originally appeared as part of The Pandemic Diaries series in Issue 728/729 of HELLO! Canada magazine.
What were you doing when COVID-19 became a fact of life? We invited some Canadian stars to answer this question while documenting their lives during the pandemic – the highs, the lows, how they coped, what they learned.
Nearly six months into lockdown, and as the summer draws to a close, our celebrity-diarists – a mix of famous faces and behind-the-scenes superstars – are sharing those stories exclusively with HELLO! Canada readers. Their revealing, touching, at times humorous personal essays, accompanied by candid photos, show just how much we all have in common as we continue to navigate these unusual days, separately yet together.
From the outset, 2020 was shaping up to be quite a year. My First Time Out music tour was sold out, with about 25 shows all over the U.S. My sophomore album, Gemini, was set to drop in May. The final season of Schitt's Creek was about to air, with a farewell tour scheduled for the summer. And I was engaged to be married to my favourite human being, Clare, in July. After that, I thought, I'll take a break to enjoy married life and see what's next. As someone who loves downtime more than almost anything, I was nervous about having such a busy year ahead, but I told myself that busy was good, that I could rise to the occasion, that I should embrace the unknown.
I was seven shows into my tour in early March when we played in Chicago and the band was sounding great. We all knew about coronavirus, but it seemed so far away, and given my history in the world of theatre, the notion that "the show must go on" is pretty deeply ingrained. The world had other plans, though – news of Tom Hanks testing positive and the NBA pulling teams off the court made it clear that the rules of life as we knew it were changing fast. Needless to say, the tour would have to wait.
The next few weeks were the most frustrating. He weather in Toronto was cold and bleak, and going anywhere or seeing anyone was an absolute no-go. Quite a shift from playing concerts to sold-out rooms. The uncertainty of the ever-evolving situation was maddening. All the talk of "wait and see" and "months, not weeks" meant the entertainment industry, along with most industries, was shut down until who-knows-when, and it didn't look like weddings would be a thing any time soon.
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Directed by @amyjuliasegal, shot by @chrisjsherry , edited by @joeisthenewblack, choreographed by @juliamks and @clarelms, starring a bunch of beautiful friends, special shout out to Jessica, Jenna, Francie and Danielle from @dramawayarts! This was so fun to do, learn the dance and use the hashtag #gotyoudancechallenge and get movin, got me?
Suddenly, my busy milestone year was a barren wasteland of unknowns and my default setting of "downtime" was hardly relaxing. Clare and I went for "sanity walks" in remote areas, and I would gather sticks to have small fires in our backyard at night. There were lots of quite evenings at home featuring home-cooked meals, a nice bottle of wine and a pile of records on the living room floor. At times it felt serene and idyllic, like we had all the time in the world to just be together. Other times, we felt hemmed in, like all of our choices had been removed and we were living in a really nice jail cell.
After a while, though, I started to think about my captivity a bit differently. I had an album to release. I felt strongly that there had to be something that wasn't postponed. Putting Gemini out into the world on my 33rd birthday and watching it hit the charts was a very bright spot in an undeniably dark time.
And then came the wedding. We knew we wanted to get married as planned if at all possible, but we were playing chicken with the restrictions easing up in time. Luckily, we'd planned to do it outside at my parents' place on Lake Huron, so there was no venue hurdle to overcome.
There were, however, many moments of doubt and disappointment, especially as we uninvited so many close friends and family members from a massive life moment we'd been planning for well over a year. In the end, though, our wedding was intimate and beautiful, like some glass bubble, floating above all the chaos, suspended out of time. It was easily the best night of my life.
I guess that's what I take away from this whole thing: that even in the hardest times, there is so much to be thankful for. For everything it has taken away, 2020 has given me some magical, life-changing moments.
Maybe 2020 is a Gemini, too, dancing between the light and the dark, knowing one can't exist without the other. Who knows what the rest of it will look like. I just keep telling myself to stay busy, to rise to the occasion and to embrace the unknown.
In this challenging time, it’s really hard to be separated from family and friends. It’s also a time when everyone needs a beautiful escape. Here at Hello! Canada, we’re still busy creating the magazine you know and love, to spread positivity and provide some entertainment as a gentle reprieve from all the hard news. And with our new special offer for subscribers, there’s never been a better time to have Hello! delivered directly to your front door. Why not treat yourself, or someone you love, today?