short exile on a long weekend

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. []


  1. That’s the funki­est look­ing sushi I’ve ever seen. Was that bought out? or made?
    And that gro­cery is HUUUUUGE. I so miss places with space.

    • It was in a very nice Japanese restau­rant, and I believe the CN Tower plat­ter was unique to their menu.

      And that gro­cery store is con­sid­ered to be medi­um-sized here…we have ones with live music play­ing in Canada!

      • I nev­er thought I’d be found say­ing I’d pine for a Canadian gro­cery, but.… I do now!

  2. Loneliness hits me hard­est when I’m sit­ting at home won­der­ing what every­one else is doing.”

    I felt sad when I read that. Perhaps because I’m lone­ly. I hope you feel refreshed. Revived even. Reading this makes me won­der about my own cir­cum­stance: why stay in a city that makes me lone­ly when I could be liv­ing in a place that makes me feel like me and not lone­ly?

    • Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s the city or just me. I’m sure I could be more adven­tur­ous and social here, but I won­der how long it would take before I get tired of the scenes and social groups.

      • I know the nature of my cur­rent city con­tributes to it. And I can’t leave, arg.

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