Tag Archives: canada

My big, fat, lovely family

24 Dec

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family” – Anthony Brandt

Head of the clan/ maternal Grandfather

Ah my family. They’re loud. They’re opinionated. They’re lovely. It feels even better to be home than I’d imagined—particularly with the dusting of snow coating my porch.

Families are like that, I suppose. You forget how important they are to you when you’re away from them for a long time.

Sometimes I remembered when I’d be invited to someone else’s family’s house for dinner. I’d laugh with them, and talk to them, but in my chest would be a twinge of sadness because I wasn’t in my home. But then I took the tube home from the dinner or lunch, and moved on to something else, got busy with life and work.

But now I’ve been thrust back into the world of heated political debates, cooking frenzies, and lots of laughter, and I think, oh right, this is what I’ve been missing.

I’m not saying I plan on moving back here anytime soon, but I do have to admit that, fuck, I’ve missed these people.

Toronto, okay, I love you

23 Dec

Today I leave Toronto. I don’t want to. It took me precisely three days to renew my love of Toronto, so it seems unfair that now I have to leave. I can’t point to an actual moment where I thought: “Oh you….right….I DO love you”.

Toronto Eaton Centre

At first, I hardly felt a connection. I walked past my old apartment. Nothing. I went to the Eaton Centre. Nothing. My old supermarket. Nothing – mind you, it was Metro, so perhaps that one is understandable.

I think I was trying to force myself into feeling something, and it was only when I threw my hands up in the air and let myself feel whatever I was feeling that I started to enjoy myself.

And then a funny thing happened slowly; I walked up and down Queen west amongst the hipsters, sipped coffee at Moonbean in Kensington, ate sushi on Yonge street and that feeling I was having trouble identifying in the early days slowly revealed itself to be contentment.

I was content to sit in cafes with my fellow RRJ-ers, or grab Greek food on the Danforth with my best friend from high school. I was content to hear a Canadian accent everywhere I went. I was definitely content to join in the sport of making fun of the uuber-conservative (and equally idiotic) mayor Rob Ford.

Spending time in Toronto has been like meeting with an old friend. You never have enough time. But you also feel like she will always be there for you, whenever you need her.

Still, I wish I had more time here. I wish I had more time to wander my old favourite neighbourhoods. I wish I had more time to walk around with coffee in my hand (Londoners don’t do this!). I wish I had more time to spend with friends and familyI shared mere hours with – friends and family who are even nearer and dearer to me now I’ve spent so much time apart from them.

Just like Candy

20 Dec

Okay, here goes. For the last three(ish) days I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about being home, but the truth is I just don’t feel anything yet.

It’s kind of like that feeling when someone hands you a candy you used to love as a child. Your eyes light up as you glimpse the familiar wrapping. It looks just as you remember. But then as you pop it into your mouth, you realise your tastes have changed, maybe matured a little, and as you take those first few licks you’re not sure what to think. After sufficient time in your mouth, you will of course render a verdict, but in the meantime you’re reserving judgement. Well, that’s kind of how I feel. After one year and four months away from this place, and living in England and travelling all through Europe, I have a bit of a different perspective on the country I love. So, for now, I’m holding out judgement.

On another note – no matter what anyone says about Canada – it is much warmer EVERYWHERE than it is in England!

A few observations after 36 hours in Canada

19 Dec

Thirty-six hours after arriving in this country I’m ready to throw together some of my initial observations about coming home. You’ll have to forgive me for not writing an entry earlier because I was suffering from jet lag–it’s not true you don’t get it going east. Excuses aside, here are my initial thoughts:

  • There are fewer people on the street than I remember. I thought Toronto was this huge metropolis when I left, so why does 2.5 million in the city centre now feel so small? My family tell me people are off the streets because it’s cold, but still….there’s so much space.
  • There’s SO much space. The sidewalks are bigger. The houses are bigger. The seats on the subway are a little bit bigger. Everything is bigger.
  • The subway is…dare I say it…pleasant compared to the horrendous tube.I cannot stress this point enough. It’s clean. The trains are bigger. The most shocking is that real air flows through the trains!
  • People are nicer. I’m sorry, but they just are.
  • Canadians know how to do a good coffee and plop a coffee shop on every street corner
  • I don’t actually like Tim Horton’s. I’m just nostalgic for it (this goes for a lot of things)
  • It still doesn’t feel real, being home

Great Expectations

5 Dec

Many of you have read my endless whining rants about being a Canadian living in Britain. Well soon you will be reading endless wining rants on returning to Canada (albeit temporarily – about two weeks).

Today marks the 12 day mark – 12 days before I finally go home for the first time in one year, three months and 21 days, but of course I’m not counting. I actually don’t count my time here that precisely. I looked that up online because I’m a giant nerd.

I thought I’d blog about my trip home to Canada because writing is the best way for me to think through all my thoughts and feelings, and it might provide some mild entertainment for anyone that happens to read my blog.

After spending the past almost year and a half semi-assimilating into British culture, I’m full of excitement and apprehension about going home.

Because I devote far too much time to fretting, I have conjured up two scenarios:

  1. I fall back in love with the country I had promised to leave for only a year, and can’t bring myself to get on that plane back to London (though of course this is unrealistic because I owe two months’ notice at my publication, have a one-year lease on my flat, and have friends and a boyfriend who would be quite unhappy with me).
  2. I’m disappointed by my trip home because I’ve painted an idyllic birds-chirping-in-the-winter, no-crime, happy land that doesn’t exist outside my imagination. (This is possibly the worst of the two).

Take my poll at the end of this post to help me predict. And, remember, whatever happens, I will provide you with regular updates on my trip to Canada.

Back to the Future

15 Aug

You must do the things you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Today marks one year since I boarded the plane to England. I thought about some cheesy post related to all the things I love here, or an ode to family and friends who’ve made my adjustment easier (both old and new). But in the end, I settled for an honest account of 14 August, 2010, the day I boarded an Air Transat plane in Toronto.

That day my Dad drove me to Pearson. My mind was on two things: I) Do everything possible to distract said father from the fact I am leaving, so he does not get emotional and II) Do everything possible to distract self from fact I am leaving Canada so I do not get emotional or reveal to father that I am scared shitless as he will try to convince me to stay.

Thus, I valiantly (slight exaggeration) battled every surge of emotion with talk of world events—don’t ask me what was going on in the news at the time, as I don’t remember—or logistics about my temporary place of residence (thanks Coen family).

I thought I did quite well to suppress emotions, throughout a two hour strained drive and a tasteless airport meal, but as I neared the security line I saw my father’s eyes well up.

Shit, I thought, as my heart suddenly began to thump in my chest, what am I doing? I wanted to yell at my Dad that this was a whim, an instinct that I stupidly followed. How could he let me do this? My heart thundered louder. I wanted to turn back and run. But I didn’t say anything. I squeezed my Dad goodbye and burst through the barrier onto the other side, where I could be alone with my fears, leaving a teary eyed father in my wake.

Eleven months later, my father would tell me how he couldn’t remember where he parked the car after he’d dropped me off and ended up wandering around the parking lot. He’d also told me he thought he’d held it together pretty well. I had to laugh.

Once through the barriers, I read all the letters and cards my friends had written me before leaving. Some I’d read before. Others, I had not. Honestly, though, Oscar, Esther, Colleen, Meghann, and everyone else who wrote to me, those letters were (and still are) precious to me, as they reminded me that I had friends and family who would support me in my adventures no matter what – whether England turned out to be a failure or success. For that, I owe a lot to you. For those that wrote to me while I was in England (Kaja and Shanice) it meant just as much.

What I remember is boarding that plane one year ago anxious, frightened, and excited for what awaited me. What I also remember is knowing, in my gut, that this was the right decision for me. A year later, I’m still here, and I don’t regret that terrifying journey for a minute.

Coffee, Sushi and Chat

26 Jul

I’m in a bit of a mushy mood today – probably because of the realisation I booked my ticket home a week ago combined with the family phone rounds yesterday evening – and thus I would like to list for you all the things I’ve missed the most, and can’t wait to do, following hitting that tarmac at Pearson Airport. Please don’t mistake my mushy mood for homesickness, but an ingrained love associated with home that can never be severed. (I did warn you that this post was going to be mushy, so I take no blame if you just threw up your lunch at that last statement).

Okay, here we go:

  1. Gorge on cheap sushi. And, I do mean gorge. Asian food (or, Oriental, as it is not so politically correctly referred to here) is meagre at best in terms of quality, and about five times the price of what I’m used to in Canada. Hence, I plan to re-hook myself up to the sushi intravenous during my two-week stay.
  2. Order a mountain of pancakes for dinner –yes, dinner. For some reason English people find the idea of breakfast for dinner simply abominable. Their loss!
  3. Sit in Chapters and read on those uncomfortable fake wood box benches. How I’ve missed sitting in bookshops surrounded by fellow cheap book lovers.
  4. Take a stroll through one of Toronto’s lovely parks and try to spot the needles junkies have abandoned.
  5. Dip my toes in the polluted Lake Ontario. (I may hold off on this one since it will be December when I visit).
  6. Have a snowball fight! I’m looking forward to going somewhere in December where they don’t think one centimetre of snow is a big deal, or have never heard of ‘snow tires’.
  7. Sit in coffee shops for hours, just chatting with old friends. In London, I suppose you can substitute pubs for coffee shops, but I just don’t have those people who know me in the same way here. Also, it would be nice to sit and chat without worrying about your inhibitions being lowered.
  8. Endure an inane conversation with the boy barista at Bulldog for the sake of an amazing coffee. Seriously, kind of hoping that kid is long gone by now.
  9. Hijack friends’ couches. Okay, this one is not so much what I’m looking forward to, as a warning to you all. I’m coming for you!
  10. Go shopping! My money will be worth 1.6 times as much! YAY!