Finding Your People

Boy, one little two week vacation and I become the blogging slacker. Though to be fair, I was having a hard time getting connected in the various places I stayed. Plus, life was going a little too quickly.

Its odd going back to the place you grew up. For the first time, since I left in 1991, I have been homesick for Toronto. I think what it really is though, is a homesickness for my people. Being home, hanging with the parents, I remember that there are a whole raft of people who know me, or know one of my parents. There are friends who knew Arron, or knew me when I was younger and goofier. They actually remember when I wore rainbow suspenders and a Babar pin made of fimo. And they still talked to me.

In the past, the ghosts and memories in Toronto kept haunting me. I would remember hanging out at the REX listening to the Whirlitzer and drinking the kind of beer that you regretted the next day. Or the Black Bull where Arron and I sat on the patio and watched all the heroin addicts scratch the imaginary bugs off their already bleeding skin. Ah, such lovely memories. But there are traces of other things too. The old house that Arron and I lived in, occupying the top two floors. I swear that some of the plants I put in the garden as an enthusiastic newlywed are still there among the weeds. The steps where I fell and got the scar on my chin when I was 8. The wall in the schoolyard where we used to put rubber balls into a stocking and then standing against the wall, fling the elastic-y balls on either side of us, chanting skipping rhymes to the rhythm. The beaches pool, way up high on its pedestal with the view of the lake where I spent the occasional sunny July afternoon when I was 7.

In Port Hope I went to a multitude of parties where (due to various themes) people were dressed in the best finery. Hats and striped jackets and ascots. We ate cucumber sandwiches and drank mint juleps and Pims. And I met the legions of people who know not only my father and stepmother, but also Arron’s mother.

It hit me then I suppose, that all these people were a network that I just don’t have anywhere else. Yes, I have people scattered about the world, but the largeness of the Toronto network can’t be replicated.

Of course, wherever the kids and I go, we think about what it would be like to move there. We did it in London and Paris. Olivia was gung ho for a particular Toronto neighborhood, where a house doesn’t generally sell for anything below about 5 mil. Typical. But it got me wondering. Could I live in Toronto again? Oh sure, its easy to see its merits on a hot and steamy August day, but those January days where you can’t help but curse the cold the moment you step outside? Not so much.

It got me wondering about my recent feelings of being disconnected, being without a posse. Does my widowhood play into that? Would I feel it, no matter where I went? Would people forget to invite me to things because I was an awkward single? I don’t know if that happens now, but I do know that when you are a pair, it doubles the number of people you come into contact with.

I am a wanderer, there is no doubt. So I wonder if I will ever be able to stay in a place long enough to create a network for myself, or if it makes sense to revisit the one that I left behind in Toronto all those years ago.

Here are Carter and Olivia at Arron’s Memorial Tree in Ramsden Park in Toronto

1 Comment

  1. Roads September 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I loved Toronto when I visited as a student, and some very good friends of mine met at Guelph.

    Strangely, a pretty girl came up to me there and said, 'Hey, I know you — you went to school in London, didn't you?' That was absolutely true but seemed such an unlikely a thing for her to realise. I didn't yet know the key differences in the Canadian and English meanings of 'school' and 'London'.

    Some years later I can remember being on a plane from Calgary into Toronto airport. My neighbour and I were chatting for an hour or two and eventually he asked me where I was going.

    I told him that I was on my way to London, and amazingly he offered to drive me home. It took me a moment to work it out, but finally, reluctantly, I had to explain that the drive might well prove rather more difficult than he imagined…

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