The drive to Toronto is getting easier. It’s my only chance to really listen to albums nowadays1, not to mention the comfort of seeing familiar towns on the way, like the names of subway stops you can’t help but memorize as a child on the way home from school. And in a way, so many years later, Toronto still feels like home. Getting there is a journey, but the people always make it worth it.
My patience tends to wear out about a quarter way in, when it becomes hard to maintain a reasonable speed. It’s a test of whether I can drive safely to see how far I’ve grown as a person.
I fail every time.
I decided to crash at Alex’s place, cause Darren hadn’t moved to his new apartment yet, ____ was at his cottage, and my dad is still unpacking from his recent move. Luckily, Andrew flew in from Texas to stay with Alex for the weekend too, so I got to see them both. The fact that I met them in grade 3 makes them my oldest friends, and they’re the only ones with whom I can always pick up where we left off, even if we’ve been out of touch for years.
The main reason for this trip was to catch up with Dave, an old friend from high-school. I transferred out of UCC to a Catholic school2 in my last year, and he was the only friend of mine to slip through the cracks, until he looked me up and contacted me a few weeks ago. Before that, it was 12 years since we last spoke.
We were miscreants back then, sneaking off campus by subway and rollerblade to grab McDonalds and steal pewter Warhammer 40K figures from Silver Snail (I was the one who distracted the clerk with questions). It was the only bit of unscrupulousness in my otherwise squeaky clean life. I’d probably regret it if we ever got caught on any of the stupid shit we got into, but we never did.
It surprised me to learn that Dave didn’t stay in touch with a single person from UCC, as he was one of the successful and popular kids who got along with everyone. But he found the mentality there to be too superficial and material, which mirrored my own thoughts on the institution, probably the reason neither of us go to the reunions. As he explained to his fiancée Jenny, that meant I was his oldest friend.
She asked if he looked different, and all I could come up with was that he was more aerodynamic, thanks to the haircut (I certainly must have much more grey hair). Apparently my laugh hasn’t changed at all, and his laugh is the same too, as well as his slightly raspy voice and the inflections in the way he talks.
Dave even brought up my best friend ditching me for the rugby jocks in grade 10, which made me feel worthless cause it was a time when I felt like I was defined by the friends I had. I didn’t think anyone else knew3, and the fact that he remembers this justifies that entire period of my life, one of the darkest I’ve ever been through. It was nice to get a bit of acknowledgement of the situation so many years later.
A few things came up over dinner that made me think I had some kind of indirect connection with Jenn, one of which was her mentioning of a friend named Ziny. It’s far from a common name, and I thought to myself, “I remember photographing a Ziny once”, but didn’t bring it up cause I didn’t know her last name to confirm.
Then when I gave them a package of white chocolate mousse tea from the Tea Store in Ottawa, Jenny said there was one in Kingston and she’d always wanted to try tea from there — exactly the same thing Alex said to me when I gave him a bundle ginger green tea earlier that day. That’s when I made the connection, and lo and behold, it turns out Jenn went to medical school with Alex4 at Queens. Two groups of friends I met at completely different points in my life don’t just know each other, they happen to be good friends too.
The next morning, Andrew, Alex and I went for brunch at a restaurant called Aunties and Uncles. The fact that it has great reviews was probably the reason we waited an hour in line, but that meant we had more time to catch up on love and life and everything between. They refused to let me pay, as I’d used the same excuse when they were in Ottawa a few years back.
I always believe Toronto will treat me well, and for the most part it does, even though the mess of traffic and construction tend to prevent me from spending any extended amount of time in the city. This time I was there for only 24 hours, my shortest trip yet, but it’s a small world, and Toronto never feels far away.
- Editors in both directions this time, cause anything I listen to nowadays is Antje recommended. [↩]
- Where Andrew and Alex were also going, which means we were classmates in grade 3, 4, and 13. [↩]
- Aside from ____, although ____ was inextricably linked to this situation in a completely different manner. [↩]
- Who brought Ellen and Ziny to my place, which was also the only time I’d met them. [↩]