I met Ange-Aimee Woods in Europe in 1996. We were both Langara College students who were on a semester-long art history and literature tour through Italy, England, France and Switzerland. She was the first person I ever heard use ‘the shit’ as a positive descriptor, as in – and I quote – ‘Rome is… the shit.’ [written on a postcard she was sending to a friend in Canada.] I laughed and laughed, as I’d never hear this slang before (being a hardcore goth, fairly sheltered from pop culture and slang), which made her laugh too. She had the most unique, booming laugh – if you were to hear it on a street corner in a random city anywhere in the world, you would know Ange-Aimee was around the corner.
She was the first person I ever emailed. Picture it: Toronto: 1996. I was staying with my mom after coming back from Europe. Ange-Aimee told me how to get a Hotmail account and I can see it so clearly in my mind: sitting in my mom’s home office, laughing (again) with the excitement and awe that comes from a mindblowing new experience – having a conversation across the country through a computer! Bear in mind, this was back when home computers were not a common household item, and the Information Superhighway was, for most of us, still a confusing and foreign concept. But Ange-Aimee, being someone who ALWAYS had her finger on the pulse of whatever was new, was riding the crest of this new wave of technology, and helped me step into the future.
I lived with Ange-Aimee for a few months in 1997 – until our apartment was taken over by fleas – and after moving out would visit her at the coffee shop she worked at in downtown Vancouver. After a couple of years she moved to Montreal, to go back to school. When I visited she introduced me to Montreal’s hip quartiers and in short order knew basically everyone. Ange-Aimee is the one person you would ever need to know if you moved to her city, because she knew anyone else you could want to meet. Music, film, art, food – she could tell you where to go for the newest, the best, the most underground. And she always wanted you to meet her friends, not in a douchey, scenester way, but because like attracts like, which meant that her friends were all really cool, nice, genuine people who you’d be likely to get along with.
When I spent four months in Montreal last year, she brought me to my first Strip Spelling Bee, which she co-hosted (and which I wrote about on this site). She also took me to her friend’s huge house party, which turned out to also be her going-away party, as she had just accepted a job with public radio in Denver and moved there within a month or so of me coming to Montreal. The place was packed, and my parting image is of her belting out a kereoke tune.
I got a text from a mutual friend this morning when I woke up, letting me know that Ange-Aimee had died of apparent heart failure while on a trip to a cottage with her mom, whom she was very close to. Ange-Aimee was 41 years old. Hours later, I am still in shock, feeling confused and so, so sad. Her many friends are gathering tonight in Montreal, which she had just returned to after deciding to leave Colorado. Her mother and father are also there.
Ange-Aimee’s passing has been marked by the CBC and the Montreal Gazette, as well as a blogger whom I don’t know but I’m guessing is part of the journalist community in Montreal. The links to those stories are here:
Ange-Aimee was warm, friendly, encouraging, smart as a whip, super stylish, generous, hilarious and had an honest to god zest for life. She laughed easily, made fast friends, was excited by discovering new people and places and things and by sharing them with friends. She was a feminist, a critical thinker, a pop-culture enthusiast who loved artichokes. She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful smile. I am having a hard time writing about her in the past tense, because I can’t actually believe that she is gone.
I am posting a video she posted on youtube last year, from her trip to Spain. You can’t see her face, but you can hear her voice, and the smile that was always present in it.
And I am finishing with a song that takes me back to our last day in London back in 1996, on our way to the airport, when a group of us convinced the driver to play our fave track from the Trainspotting soundtrack. To the beginning of a friendship that continues over distance, and time, and now, absence. For my wonderful friend, Ange-Aimee.