Incredible... I finally have the vim terminal editor functionality working. First I fixed the pwd issue by looking into autoshelldir. Then I realized I learned about :enew and realized vim buffer functionality was what I needed: I needed to
and all of a sudden things started mostly working, no :e! needed. Then when quitting the edited file, I would get an error that the terminal was still running. This was what I wanted of course, so answers about automatically closing the terminal were not on the right track.
The solution to the closing buffer problem was to realize that :q was trying to close the window, when in reality I want to be closing the buffer. So I remapped <leader>q to :bd<cr> and now the basic edit cycle is working! Though switching back to fish I get a status message I don't care much for. Endless yak hair...