Monday, December 14, 2009

A Toronaissance

I've been sort of up in the air lately, what with the impending graduation from university/getting of a real life that's hanging, Damocles-like, over my head. At first I was like, "I'll do grad school!" but, what with my terrible grades and questionable work ethic, I think grad school is going to have to wait until I have some modicum of self-discipline. Then I was like, "Maybe I'll go out West!" but, like with the '49ers, the rush for gold that may not be there isn't that stable. And by "gold," I mean, obviously, "cash money." Then I was like, "I'll go to Africa!" but it took me about 45 seconds to regain my senses and remember that I'm not that adventurous; volunteerism is awesome, obviously, but I'm not into getting eaten to death by the wildlife.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me where I am now. It leaves me in Toronto, working towards a career in housing (if I have my way) or writing (if my mom can wrestle me into co-operation), or being a professional bum and money-ower (I'm amateur right now, what with OSAP and all). It leaves me having a tiny love affair with Toronto these days.

Oh, sure, the other day I was railing against the winter - we were in the middle of a cold snap that made me question my allegiance to Canada - but generally speaking, there's no other city I'd rather live in. Toronto is urban without being totally insane, with decent transit, great neighbourhoods, an active municipal government, a bitchin' park on the lake, tasty eats, great shopping, the foremost in current fake penis sculptures, good jobs, a variety of loud-'n'-proud scenes (bike, queer, sports, whatever), and

I know Toronto isn't perfect: the architecture can be terrible, the winters are grey and lame, and apartments are expensive. Even if I get into a housing co-op (oh yeah, living the dream!), it's still pretty pricey to live and work in the downtown core. However, there's nowhere else I want to be. Where else am I supposed to live? Milton? Oakville? Jeez Louise, that seems terrible. I love urban living, especially in Toronto, where core-dwellers still have access to things like groceries not bought from a bodega. The energy, the very Canadianess of the place, is so fun to be in. Whenever I go my parent's place, the small-town vibe is almost oppressively quaint; granted, my hometown is designed to be charming, and the encroaching seediness from outlying parts of town is especially disconcerting given that Stratford gives every impression of having some secret social eugenics program designed to obscure and weed out anyone not attractive/rich enough to mug for the limelight.

So, leaving the small town and coming to the Big Smoke was a good move, eventually, though the culture shock was actually fairly acute. After a while, though, adjustments were made and I got used to living in a bustling, vibrant place (which took a surprisingly long time, actually); I found friends and a passion, favourite places to be, libraries, restaurants, magazine shops and patios...all the hallmarks of a cosmopolitan city. Not to mention the chance to get outside of that small-town vibe, to create my own priority list. I have access to things that just don't exist the same way in other places: the Leslie Street Spit, for example, or co-op housing, or bikes. My love affair continues unabashedly.


  1. Bouncing around Vancouver, I noticed that I love this city. I don't mean "I love things about this city", I mean I actually love it. By that I mean that I care about everything in it, just because it is here. Some things in it I like, for instance the rural feel of some east van streets. Other things I despise, like the Olympics. But, whether I like it or not, I care about everything that goes on here.

    While I find things about Toronto interesting, I don't care about every aspect of transit planning or the history of every single building, simply because I don't have an obtuse universal love for everything about the place. Toronto feels too big, too old, too complex for me to get a handle on. There are so many neighborhoods I couldn't possibly get to know all of them.

  2. The neighbourhood chain that makes up Toronto is something I've really come to love, both as a hallmark of an urban space - look at all the discrete pockets in places like New York City, for example - but also as a tool to get to know the city better. I can't possibly get into TORONTO, but I can get behind Leslieville, the Annex, Parkdale, Roncey, etc.