Posts tagged with "Toronto"

terminal velocity

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The jour­ney lasts an hour, by turns mov­ing and bit­ter­sweet, a mix­tape with­out a name that’s pos­si­bly the most thought­ful col­lec­tion of music any­one has ever given to me. It’s the addic­tion I’ve been wait­ing for. Proof that I can still be under­stood when a feel­ing is shared if not a history.

Yet new songs on repeat don’t define this moment, cause I can’t tell when one moment ends and the next begins any­more. There’s no sense of per­ma­nence in any­thing. I don’t know whether to be scared or relieved to know that every­thing will inevitably change.

view of Mississauga, Ontario

 

Shawn thinks I’m plum­met­ing towards rock bot­tom cause I need to prove to myself that I can pull myself out. The idea was on the very tip of my con­scious­ness, and it’s get­ting harder to deny how right he is. I’ve always been a per­son who needs to explore the lim­its of the pos­si­ble. I just won­der whether I’ll sur­vive the fall.

the distances we travel and yet how far we've still to sail

It’s all a bit of a blur now, espe­cially since we agree it feels like it’s been a year since my respon­si­bil­i­ties as a son and a cousin and a friend in Toronto. I do remem­ber try­ing to bal­ance the caf­feine — so I could be clear-headed and enjoy­ing myself — with the insom­nia that comes from hav­ing so much energy every night. Also, these acts of guer­rilla hap­pi­ness where mes­sages of hope were expressed through posters and spray paint. It would appear that van­dal­ism crosses over into art only in cities with a sky­line worth mentioning.

We ended up at the Ontario Science Centre twice, once as nerds and again as wed­ding guests, which worked out cause the only exhibit we didn’t get a chance to see one day ended up being the only exhibit open to us dur­ing the recep­tion. The high­light is always the plan­e­tar­ium though, in all it’s bean-bag, time-traveling glory, the expe­ri­ence itself worth the price of admis­sion. With the excep­tion of a poor fac­sim­ile of dragon’s beard candy, every­thing worked out.

Continue read­ing “the dis­tances we travel and yet how far we’ve still to sail”…

I'm happy to report that my blood does clot

The best time of the year to make the drive to Darren’s house is in the Autumn. It’s about five hours door-to-door — bar­ring any traf­fic or con­struc­tion — so there’s a good chance I’ll catch a sun­rise or sun­set no mat­ter when I leave. It’s par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful when the leaves are chang­ing and the colours are at their rich­est along the stretches of the 401.

Sometimes I’ll turn on a stand-up com­edy sta­tion instead of music, and it helps take my mind off the drea­ri­ness of the less scenic parts1. It’s like hav­ing another per­son to talk to, except the con­ver­sa­tion goes one way, and they tend to be funny when not overly polit­i­cal2 or Andrew Dice Clay.

Chinese dishes

Zhaliang and clas­sic Cantonese noo­dles. #thingsIcouldeateveryday

I still think of mov­ing back to Toronto, where there’s every­thing that isn’t avail­able to me in Ottawa. But I hate all the things that come with such an unwieldy and poorly amal­ga­mated city. At my age, I value com­fort over excite­ment, and Toronto has become a city that’s bet­ter to visit than to stay.

After meet­ing Mike in London, I knew that’s where I was meant to live, with Bloc Party and Monty Python and The Underground and rainy weather and Portishead and a bil­lion accents and Only Fools and Horses and that stoic British men­tal­ity and Paris just a train ride away. But that wasn’t my fate, and the dirty streets of Toronto are the clos­est I’ll ever get to that.

Continue read­ing “I’m happy to report that my blood does clot”…

  1. Usually the small towns with no charm or per­son­al­ity. []
  2. Cause I never get it. []

moments between cities

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The drive home is always eas­ier. Not because I’m leav­ing, but because it’s when I can catch my breath after some relent­less debauch­ery I excuse as being for a spe­cial occasion.

I’m at an age where my body will feel this over the next two days, spent recov­er­ing phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. Luckily, exhaus­tion numbs the senses, and makes the time pass quicker on those long stretches where dis­tance is mea­sured in hours.

driving at night sepia

Cousins, British humour, heart­break, shots, glut­tony, rum­ble strips, but never enough time.

The 401 is the kind of high­way that Springsteen used to write about on his heart­land folk albums, the only ones I ever liked. The songs were never about a road itself, but about all the lust and hate and change that hap­pened between two peo­ple when they trav­elled along that road.

In the same way, dri­ving the 401 has always been when I have a chance to find myself. It often leaves me feel­ing like a dif­fer­ent per­son when I get to where I’m going.

short exile on a long weekend

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When you no longer work in an office, some­times you don’t find out it’s a long week­end until the Friday of. My friends have also replaced their rit­ual bar­be­cues with babies and play dates, so no invi­ta­tions were sent out that may have noti­fied me of the holiday.

Toronto Lake Shore

A quiet moment among vol­ley­ball tour­na­ments and beach goers in a calm area of the Lake Shore.

I wanted to get away cause I’ve been dread­ing any time alone. Loneliness hits me hard­est when I’m sit­ting at home won­der­ing what every­one else is doing. A road trip to Toronto was the best way I could avoid that. Unfortunately, the only peo­ple I can drop in on with such short notice hap­pen to be five hun­dred kilo­me­tres away.

The truth is I never watch sun­sets any­more. I’m usu­ally too caught up in my projects cause I’m wor­ried about being left with noth­ing but the thoughts I’ve try­ing to put in the back of my head. That’s why I don’t mind the five-hour drive at this time of year; it gives me an excuse to see what I never make time to do. When I leave at a quar­ter to seven, I hit the rich­est1 part of the sun­set halfway through the 401. For a glo­ri­ous stretch, there’s noth­ing con­crete curves and crim­son colours bleed­ing through the trees.

CN Tower sushi

The “CN Tower” sushi plat­ter, with tem­pura obser­va­tion deck.

All I wanted was a quite time with the right com­pany, no heavy plans or per­son­al­i­ties. I’d be kick­ing myself for all the shots I missed cause I was too com­fort­able to pull out my cam­era, but I know that’s what those moments are about.

To lose your­self in the haze and sum­mer heat finally upon us is to live like a child again with­out a worry or thought of any­thing beyond the next five min­utes. Regression is embrac­ing the itchy sweat break­ing out on your face, as your fin­ger­tips mash the ice into slush in a white cream soda freezie.

grocery store

Feeling lit, feel­ing light,
2 a.m., sum­mer night.

I’m always fight­ing exhaus­tion on these trips cause I don’t get enough sleep. There’s too much to do. It’s a test of con­sti­tu­tion to be dri­ving in the dark­ness and city lights, won­der­ing if I’m too tired to be dri­ving, let alone nav­i­gat­ing the infu­ri­at­ing con­struc­tion and traf­fic of down­town Toronto. When I sur­vive another day, it’s a reminder that not every­thing has to be per­fect, that the world still turns no mat­ter the state of my heart or mind.

Over a par­tic­u­larly heavy blend, I was asked what it would take for me to go all out, to say fuck it and lose con­trol. It made me real­ize I’m already there, sid­ing with indul­gence over mod­er­a­tion, try­ing to break myself down so I can rebuild myself again. That’s why I always lose myself on those warm sum­mer nights, when I tell myself I’ll be in bed by 10 every night, but the com­pany keeps me up till 3.

cat and human

Dexter is now too fat and lazy to fight off my cud­dly advances.

I have such a mixed past with Toronto. It was such a chaotic time in my life when I lived there. I was crip­plingly unde­vel­oped, but that also meant I still had the inno­cence none of us ever return to once we hit adult­hood. Much like those mem­o­ries, this city will always be a part of me.

Now I’m back in Ottawa, returned to the lit­tle things that make it home like a famil­iar pil­low and a cat’s par­tic­u­lar purr. In my case, the exile is always self-imposed, a con­trolled escape, and I always won­der if any­one would care or miss me if I never came back.

  1. The time when it just starts to get dark, a bal­ance between the rich colours and bril­liance of light, since they both com­pose. []