Dear Future Me,
I spent the last weekend in Toronto and it was excellent for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I wasn’t at home. One of my major goals for this summer was to travel, and if you think that driving five hours West isn’t travelling then you can just STFU, thanks. Besides, compared to my humble and conservative little government town, Toronto really is a different country.
1. It’s really big. Like, reaaaalllyyy big.
Logically I know that Ottawa is not all that big and I also know that logically Toronto is way bigger but knowing those things logically and actually experiencing them are too totally different things. Trying to find my friend Em’s house, Beaki and I drove down the same street for so long that I was convinced we’d missed our intersection. Roads don’t go on this long. Are we even still in Ontario? But lo and behold, eventually we got where we were going.
Part of me just cannot comprehend driving within the city for several hours and failing to reach your destination not because you are lost but because that is just how long it takes, suckers. How is it that everything can be so far apart? The physics boggle my mind. I literally can’t comprehend how a city could be both so large and so dense. What. The. Eff.
2. People talk to you…a lot.
Okay, maybe that should read “people talk to me” because I got yelled at or spoken to by strangers on many occasions. On my first night there, trying to take the subway I might have accidentally sacked some guy, and he yelled “Well, my wife’s not going to like that!” because apparently they have a very healthy physical relationship. In Ottawa, if you accidentally sacked someone you would both frown, apologize insincerely and then avert eye contact, because in Ottawa nobody wants to talk to each other.
The next day, again at the subway, I was trying to buy a day-pass and my twenty was nearly ripped in half. The very nice man at the terminal had a five-minute conversation with me about it, “bartering” for the value of the twenty since it was practically in pieces. In the end I got my day-pass and my change, but it took four and half minutes longer than it would have in Ottawa. At one point the guy called out for crowd support and I half expected people to start up a debate club. It was weird, y’all.
Finally, at the Zoo (I went to the Zoo!) a little girl spent a good ten minutes telling Em and I all about the polar bear in the exhibit, and she was fucking knowledgeable and cute as hell but part of me secretly wanted to abduct her to teach her a lesson about not talking to strangers. Especially strangers who don’t know shit about polar bears.
3. Consumerism is big, like the Eaton’s Center but with fewer friendly hobos.
Lots of people have told me about how expensive Toronto is, but that was not really my experience. Although I did notice that some house prices were on the ridiculous side, my friend Em lives in a decent part of Toronto right beside the subway for the same amount I’m paying in Ottawa. There were cheap things in Toronto and there were expensive things in Toronto, but the thing I noticed the most was the access to expensive shit.
For example, last time I checked we did not have a Victoria’s Secret in Ottawa, which is a pricey, name-brand kind of place. There were a few shoe stores I’d never seen before. Everywhere I looked, there was something you could buy: food, clothing, accessories, furniture, and a lot of it was designer, and it was prolific. I suspect I could get along just fine in Toronto making the kind of money I make here, but I think I would want to make more money. Toronto makes you want to shop. Toronto makes you feel like you have something to prove.
Toronto makes me want to be wealthy in a way I have never experienced in Ottawa. Maybe it’s the Starbucks on every corner (unlike here, where it’s Tim Hortons) or maybe it’s the bloated sense of self-importance or maybe it’s just that Toronto is other, is not home, and the difference and the size make me want to protect myself with stuff.
Toronto makes me hungry.
4. OMG TURTLES
You know what is awesome? The Toronto Zoo. I got to pet a goddamn shark, bitches. And a stingray. And I saw gorillas and pigmy hippos and SO MANY TURTLES. Apparently, we showed up on World Turtle Day, and they were fucking posing for us. Turtles are fucking awesome, and that’s a fact. I was kind of disappointed with the wolves, though, because they were all napping in a ditch when I showed up. I was all like “HOLY CRAP WOLVES I AM YOUR BIGGEST FAN CAN YOU PLEASE SIGN THIS” and they were like “….” (because they were asleep and didn’t give a shit.)
Fun fact: wolves don’t care about your childhood dreams.
I considered getting a souvenir at the zoo because I am a sucker for overpriced merchandise, but the fact is that I don’t really like stuffed animals and I have no real use for them. Plus, my mom just spent the week in fucking Spain and I figured that my shot glass with a lemur painted on it would look pretty pathetic next to the goddamn designer bracelet she brought back for me from Barcelona.
In conclusion, while I was trying to figure out if that smell in the movie theatre was me or hobo urine, my mom was visiting Salvator Dali’s museum and swimming in the Mediterranean.
Now that I’m home, I miss Toronto, and I’m excited to go to Montreal later this summer and write about that wonderful city. In other news, my aunt’s dog died, I just got fourteen bottles of red wine as a late birthday present (a post in itself, believe me) and I really, really want a full-time job.
Yours most sincerely,