Posts tagged with "Toronto"

small world

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.

Toronto view

The view from Alex’s downtown apartment. You can easily tell Yonge Street apart from how brightly it’s lit.

Continue reading “small world”…

  1. Editors in both directions this time, cause anything I listen to nowadays is Antje recommended. []

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. []

gotta go on

This is my current anthem. T-Dot represent.

Sometimes I wonder if I only love Toronto because of the people. There are always things to do and friends to visit, and it feels like my hometown. I hate the driving, I hate all the cops downtown, I hate the fact that it takes me at least half an hour to get anywhere, but I always look forward to going back.

baby sun conure

Baby sun conure. This little guy was just starting to grow feathers, and kept in an incubator.

The isolation was nice, but it got to the point where ____ would say he was proud of me just for having lunch with someone. Now I find myself going out more and more and it’s a refreshing change of pace. Not that I felt like I was uncomfortable being home alone; more like the urge to be out overtook me, even if that meant I was still alone among others.

I wonder if my hermitage was just an extended stretch of time I needed to recharge after my trip to Europe. Or maybe it was knowing that the next stretch of time until the summer was going to be busy.

This time it doesn’t feel like a transition period, because I know it won’t last. I’ll eventually go back to extended time alone, and I’ll forever be in the flux of sociability and solitude, winter and summer. The only thing that’s constant is happiness. Sure, there are flashes of misfortune, but they’re fleeting, contained, and just a part of day-to-day life, nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe this is why I’ve been finding it hard to write. I’ve always been fueled by suffering in some way or another, but all that’s left now is this contentment.

See You In Toronto


I’m so glad that Toronto remains a place where I can go to get away. There are places to stay, an endless cycle of friends or acquaintances to visit, and someone else takes the wheel and drives.

It’s amazing to see how much Toronto has changed. How certain streets downtown have turned into trendy, expensive shopping districts, a Canadian version of Rodeo Drive, and a far cry from the run-down roads I would visit every lunch in high school by rollerblade and subway to buy Magic cards and Warhammer figures.

MindBender loves you

After Bill Clinton’s speech at the CNE, there was a brief question and answer period. The host asked him, “What do you like most about Toronto?”, adding that Torontonians seem to have a sort of self-deprecating humour1. After making a diplomatic comment on the Aboriginal art as being his favourite thing, Clinton said, “You folks can make fun of yourself, but people would kill to live a society like this. You should be very proud.” I had to agree.

Dim sum

Before leaving, I had dim sum with my dad, and we caught up on each others lives a little bit. He sounded pretty happy when I called to ask him if he wanted to go.

I bought a pair of windshield wipers but didn’t replace them, bringing them with me to his house instead, hoping he could show me how to install them. I could just as easily have read the car manual, but I wanted something to share with him. Maybe now I can catch up on these father-son things that I seemed to have missed in my childhood.

  1. I suppose you have to, with how well the Leafs have been doing in recent years. []

Going Home

Bike in snow

I’m going home today. It’s been a great trip. Just one more stop for lunch with an old boss before I make the drive back to Ottawa.

Cracking pole

I miss sleeping in my own bed. It’s been a different bed almost every night. But the trip was also filled with good people. People who are truly touching. And cats.

Bike in snow

I’m not feeling as overstimulated as I expected. Maybe I’ve been too busy for it to sink in.

I’ll be leaving in the early afternoon to catch the sunset in the 250km stretch along the 401.