Posts tagged with "Toronto"

ecstasy but not happiness

We left on a Thursday, travelling by train with tickets my uncle bought us. My younger self would have enjoyed making a mix to go with the undulating patter of tracks and the passing of seasonal landscapes in my window. I could let songs and albums measure my time spent traveling. Now I measure time in hunger and pills.

Union Station Toronto

But even as I age and the skyline grows less recognizable, the old stomping grounds remain comfortingly familiar. They say everyone’s an exile in New York. Well, in Toronto — where each municipality is a world unto itself, separated by miles of twisting highways and hours of traffic — everybody’s home.

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terminal velocity

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.

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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

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.