When I left our Toronto apartment on April 15, I thought I’d never be back.
I’d packed my bags and said my goodbyes to a city I’d alternately hated and loved, and I’d tried to close the door on a year of my life spent “figuring stuff out.”
But one impulsive ticket purchase and here I am, barely a month and a half later, sitting in a living room that still feels like mine.
This spontaneous weekend back in the city is not quite a vacation and not quite a homecoming. It feels like time travel.
I keep thinking about how it felt to move here on a sticky day last summer.
It was June and I was sleep deprived.
I took a Greyhound from Ottawa to Scarborough Town Centre and I got lost trying to find the taxi stand and I nearly cried from the frustration. The cab driver refused my debit card and I didn’t have any cash on me.
I met Dario and his cousins’ apartment and we wheeled our suitcases over to a rented room at the corner of Kennedy and Eglinton, where the landscape was dominated by strip malls and I couldn’t walk outside alone without some man making some comment about my legs/face/skirt. The walls of our room were lime green, we slept on an air mattress, and there was no air conditioning. But it only cost $800 a month.
We left that room on August 1st, at midnight — the earliest possible moment — and drove to this apartment and slipped our keys into the new locks.
This was my introduction to adulthood.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m. every day and spent an hour on the rattling subway. I wrote about shootings and stabbings and fires and politicians’ blunders and children with tumours so entangled in their brains that surgery was not an option. I learned to turn off the comment section when I wrote about immigration, First Nations issues, or refugees.
I was a journalist. And there was something deeply gratifying about finally earning that title.
Being back in Toronto has me thinking about all the selves I have been.
It’s funny how a place can influence who we feel we are.
A few weeks before I moved back to Vancouver, Dario and I had dinner with a co-worker and joked about how different the West Coast lifestyle is, compared to the rush of Toronto.
I asked Dario if he thought I was different when I was home in Vancouver, and he laughed and said yes: When he first met me, I wore leggings and climbed trees and picked bouquets of wildflowers.
I wonder how much of that is who I am and how much of it comes from where I am living. I wonder how much of me is real and how much is unfinished or uncertain.
How much is temporary? How much shifts according to geography? What will be different when I land beside the Pacific in 12 hours?
I’m flying back to Vancouver tonight. I wonder when the transition happens.
Will I feel myself change, mid-air?