Saturday, 22 October 2011

Good bye Toronto!

I have always described my relationship with Toronto as 'love-hate' but as I went to write this post I realized it is really more of an abusive relationship.

I moved to Toronto, fresh out of university, living with my cousin (okay, if you must know, we accidentally moved in right next door to Regent Park because we got a great deal on the sweetest little apartment).  I came to Toronto, bright eyed and full of dreams.  Ready to make a difference in the world.  Wanting to experience the excitement of the big city.

Our first day went something like this...

Me: Hey Toronto, I'm exhausted, we spent all day moving and cleaning.  But I am so excited to get out and explore and get to know my new home.

Toronto: I'm so excited for you to be here!  I can't wait to show you how wonderful I am.  I am a clean city full of friendly people with a Pickle Barrel walking distance from your house.  You will be so happy here.

Me: Yay!  I love this great city of greatness!  Fantastic!  *skips to Pickle Barrel and stuffs face full of joy and chicken wraps*

Night falls on this delicious city.  Our first night.  The stars twinkle, and then Toronto comes at us, full force.  On a walk outside we find crack addicts and dealers, a sweater abandoned and covered in vomit, we hurry inside and spend the rest of the night listening to sirens from various law enforcers, screams and what we thought might have been gunshots.  We cowered in the darkness and prayed to live to see morning. 

In the morning the sun shines.

Toronto: Good morning Sweetie.

Me: Don't 'sweetie' me.  What the hell was that?  Holy frick!  That was the scariest night of my entire night.

Toronto: O it was a mistake.  I didn't mean it.  It won't happen again.  Trust me this time.  I want you to love me, I really do.  Come on, come to the Eaton Centre, see Kensington Market, do your grocery shopping in Chinatown, wander Yorkville and dream of being rich and important.  I have so much to offer you.

Over and over and over again that year we played this game.  Horrible, awful experiences.  Then Toronto would smile, bring me flowers, play nice for a few days and I'd be sucked back in.  By the end of the year I called myself 'Toronto Karen'.  I had grown assertive, I had become more worldly, I could take the subway without getting lost which was an achievement in and of itself. 

Then I left.  After being home in Niagara for only one year Herm got into law school in Toronto and back I came.  I have been here for almost four years now.  I would like to say it has gotten better, that me and Toronto have developed a healthier relationship and established a routine where both of us benefit.  But, that's not true.  Toronto won't give me a job, won't accept that I am a qualified and ready to work individual.  Toronto doesn't want to help me with my career, or my education.  There are no first chances here, never mind second chances! 

So, Toronto, this is where I break up with you.  We're leaving.  Next Saturday.  I will no longer live here, I won't have to fight through your horrifying public transit, I won't have to deal with your mess and your noise and your pollution and your lack of green space and your over crowdedness.  Nobody will stab me with an umbrella in the rain, or try to run be over while I'm biking, or shout at me for no reason except that humans were never ever meant to live like this and eventually the frustration gets to us all.

But then Toronto does what Toronto does best. 

Toronto: Okay Karen, if you think that is for the best.  If you have to leave.  But won`t you miss baseball games (and by baseball games I, of course, mean the nachos at the Skydome)?  I know Hamilton has malls, but Hamilton doesn't have Yorkdale.  Just sayin'.  Remember when you went to the zoo for your birthday?  Or Sneaky Dees nachos?  Will Regis have a dog park like Sunnybrook to play at in Hamilton?  Do you have a balcony to watch the sunset from, and grow a little balcony garden?  Will you be able to come to Steven and Chris every week? 

I mean, it's fine.  I totally understand that you want to go.  But what about the ROM?  You know you love that crazy mummy and trying to sneak in with your expired student card on Tuesdays.  Remember the time you went to the ballet?  Or the time you tripped up those stairs and the homeless guy shouted at you for blocks asking if you were okay?  Or when you drugged up on gravol and conquered your fear of heights long enough to take the elevator to the top of the CN Tower and have a well deserved glass of wine?

All the cool kids go to the zoo for their 24th birthday!
 I have answers to all of this.  Toronto, I will find new places to go, new things to entertain me, new malls and shopping and maybe even a job!  I am not worried to be leaving you, in fact I don't even think I like you very much at all.

Then Toronto plays its trump card.

Karen, I get it.  No hurt feelings.  But, one more little thing.  What about your friends?  The friends you have made and collected from all over this city?  The ones who have become your family away from family?  Your in-laws who never remind you that you aren't actually related?  What about all the people who have taken you in, shown you the best fro yo (Menchis) or the cheapest beer (maybe Toby's until that guy broke a bottle and slit someone's neck, now we don't go there), or the greatest Mexican outside of Mexico (Mariachi), or where not to get food poisoning (another Mexican place, will remain unnamed)?  The first place you and Herm lived together?  Where you brought your puppy home to?  How can you leave? 

Karen, this is home.

Me:  Goddamit.  Goddam you Toronto.  I want to leave.  I really do, I want a smaller city and parks and no smog days and peace and quiet, somewhere that I feel safe all the time.  But I will miss it.  I will miss you so much.  Not just the city and the excitement but the friends and adopted family I am leaving behind.  We still have a week together.  Let's make the most of this week.  Maybe it isn't always healthy, and maybe not everybody understands why I keep coming back, but in the end I take this city for better or for worse (but NOT for another term of Rob Ford at mayor!). 


  1. On behalf of all the poor battered souls not strong enough to break away from the sado-masocistic relationship that Toronto is so masterful at cultivating, WE WILL MISS YOU!!! I'm 100% confident that this city will not be the same without you! Who will I have to go to TV shows with? Who will join me in considering calling our overly-intimate waiters 'sugar-tits'? Who will I go 'people-judging' with (I don't know any other 'front row' girls in this city)? Whose mother-in-law will take me out for Menchie's? And who will I have to complain to about the traffic/subway/people/smells/rudeness of this city? I'll miss you Karen! And I call shot-gun on your spare bedroom in Hamilton when I need a break from my abuser/lover. Oh, and if you ever feel nostalgic for any or all of the above, there's always a place on my couch for you! :)

  2. bahahha. This was very entertaining at work.