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