Tuesday, May 12, 2015

To Toronto, with love

Every night I go back there: The Annex with its old, beautiful houses. The Annex-section of Bloor Street, with its unpretentious shops and abundance of Asian eateries. After tossing and turning for hours (darn that jet lag!) I fall asleep and dream of Canada. I wake up and don't know where I am -- whose room is this? Is this the truly charming studio on Madison Avenue?
 Or am I on Dupont, with its faint, ongoing murmur of traffic seeping through the windows, and the four-poster bed?
Am I in Kingston, in Lettie's spotless, welcoming home?

Or is this still Quebec City, overlooking the river?...

Eventually, I get my bearings and realize I'm back home, for better and for worse.

During the first few days in Toronto, I didn't write a thing in my travel journal. For three or four days I was immersed in a sea of emotions, scents, sights; overwhelmed by a constant stream of sounds, views, feelings. It was difficult to absorb it all. Impressions swirled inside my head like on a swift merry-go-round, the music coming and going, the images flowing into each other and merging until I couldn't pull them apart into individual frames.

For example: The other night I tried to recall what Stelio, the ballet teacher, looked like, but couldn't. Instead, images of Baryshnikov (the later, silver-haired model) floated in front of my eyes. Then the dust settled, and I could see Stelio clearly. Complete with black split-sole dance sneakers (the kind I drool over when walking by a dance-shop window); the sleeveless black T-shirt; the twinkling eyes; his admirably-firm upper arm muscles and the endless grace of his arm movements as he demonstrated, explained, and encouraged us to do our best. Why, Stelio alone is worth a few notebook-pages! Though I was rather nervous about going to a ballet class (for the first time in, ahem, fifty-odd years), those couple of hours at Metro Movement turned out to be among the highlights of this trip.

Toronto isn't new to me. But this was the first time I experienced it less like a tourist and more like a temporary resident. I could imagine myself living there. I got a kick out of witnessing the extent to which my daughter had become Canadian. I wanted to be like her: to know my way about town, to feel at home, to know what to buy where, what to expect of people on public transport, in traffic, in shops and restaurants; and how I'm expected to act in return. (Politely, duh!)

I want to go into Mr. Pen on 683, Bloor St. West. (Obviously, I don't have enough cute stickers at home...) I want to pop into Midoco, on 555 Bloor St. West, and gawk at art supplies. I want to order a poutine for dinner from Poutineville on 296 Brunswick Ave. I want to relax over coffee at the Scout & Cash Caffe [sic!] on 146 Christie Street.

But most of all, I just want to walk hand-in-hand with my daughter under blue skies, under a benevolent, warm, spring sun.

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