It’s nearing two years since I returned from Toronto to Dublin. The decision to return was all mine, I chose to come home to return to study. I had a great job in Toronto, and lived on the edge of the Annex with a great group of friends I made upon my arrival. I had a small group of Canadian friends and I was beginning to settle in well. Of course, that’s when I upped and left. I fell in love with Dublin again upon my return. But there are days, like today, where the humidity is high, and I spend the afternoon in the hub of the city when I really, really miss living in Toronto.
Some things in particular I miss-
1) The Summer– I arrived in TO in the summer of 2010, two days before Canada Day, into the, sometimes oppressive, heat. I lived in a hostel with crappy air conditioning, with a bunch of other Irish people and quickly learned that we don’t tolerate the heat that well. I spent my days rambling around the city looking for work, fretting about money, establishing friendships for life, discovering places to eat, looking for houses, pool hopping, summer nights in Kensington Market listening to music, walking the city at night feeling safe, exploring the waterfront and high park, Canada Wonderland, and simply falling in love with all the city has to offer.
2) The Fall– In Ireland, we don’t really have distinctive seasons and from late September to November was really when I began to find my feet, and I felt most at ease in my new home and in my own skin. I love the change in the weather, and the thunderstorms and heavy rain. I loved hanging around in High Park, the colours of the foliage and jumping into piles of leaves, swinging on swings ‘til dusk and wandering around the little zoo. I loved walking to work from Bathurst & Bloor to Adelaide & Spadina, soaking in Chinatown, or meandering through Kensington Market onto Queen West. I loved sitting in our back garden (sadly, we had no porch to speak of) and debriefing my day with my housemates.
3) The People– I really love Canadians, I found them to (generally) be such nice, friendly, kind people. I thought that they are very well rounded- educated, socially aware, interesting (hobbies, passions etc.) and simply, good people. A little reserved and quietly confident. I admire their manner and outlook on life.
4) The Diversity– I felt very accepted in Toronto. There is such an eclectic mix of people, young and older, and there is something for everybody in this city. I grew more comfortable in my own skin here, I found myself dressing more casually, reflecting that feeling. I felt that the people I met were more interested in what I had to say, than how I looked or what I was wearing, which I sadly find is often the case in Dublin.
5) The Distillery District– One of my absolute favourite spots in the city to kill a day; people watching, gazing at art, the chocolate shop, grabbing a cold beer, marvelling at the sculptures, strolling around, spotting the newly-weds having their photographs taken & buying some (very expensive) arty, unusual knick-knacks.
6) The Annex– Luckily, I got to live on the edge of this hub, mixed in with the idealistic students, angst ridden writers & poets, subdued lecturers to name a few. Beautiful in the Summer & Fall, miserable in the Winter, this place is just full of character from Honest Ed’s, Bloor Cinema, Sonic Boom, Koreatown & Christie Pits.
7) The Islands– a beautiful place to hide away from the city when the blistering heat hits. There is a perfect vantage point for a shot of the city, and the little community living there have beautiful houses and houseboats. BBQ’s with friends & daring to swim in Lake Ontario, fire pits on the beach and sing songs galore.
This list could go on, and on, but today, this is what I miss the most about Toronto, that does not include all the friends I left behind living there, Irish & otherwise, the challenges I set myself out there- living in a house with 10 people (at one point), a mouse infestation and a totally useless, permanently high landlord is definitely a challenge, a completely different job environment, first Christmas away from home etc.- and the memories I gained from my experience.
Toronto, I love you.