I’m moving away for school, and I’m supposed to be packing. My room looks like some sort of shopper’s war-zone- garments scattered everywhere as my cat cautiously navigates through the mess in an attempt to find a spot to nap.
I don’t know about you, but I forever associate certain outfits, articles of clothing, and shoes with specific moments in my life. You know, the dress you wore that night you ran into your ex, or the boots you had on when you went to the opening night of your friend’s play…and that’s it, those items are locked in with those memories and eternally remain the “ex dress” or the “play boots.”
So, as I pack away my closet into two suitcases, I simultaneously relive my favourite (and not so favourite) memories. While the reminiscences are diverse, I realize the setting remains constant throughout: Toronto. Scattered throughout Toronto are little pieces of my life. I find myself weaving my clothes, memories and lamentation for Toronto into one intense packing session.
Alas, this has become my tribute to Toronto and all the spots I will miss…
Trinity Bellwoods Park: I grew up in a Portuguese family and for anyone who is familiar with Bellwoods, you know that every year in June, it’s Portugal Day at that park. I was never a fan of this day. I remember actively complaining about how lame it was, and how my friends didn’t have to go, but my parents dragged me out every year. In retrospect, those were the best days that I had with my parents and my sister.
Later on, when I was 21, I was dating this guy who I was absolutely crazy about. We were hanging out one day and ended up at Bellwoods after dinner. We dug out a blanket from the trunk of my car and just sat outside until nighttime talking and laughing. To date, this is one of my favourite memories.
The Gladstone Hotel: I don’t think I have ever had a bad time at the Gladstone. It remains one of my special hang outs in Toronto because it embodies exactly what I expect out of a good night with friends: drinks, singing along to our favourite songs and people watching (and trust me, there are some interesting people to watch in that place). My 22nd birthday was spent at the Gladstone and while I don’t remember much of that night, I do smile every time I think about it. (1214 Queen St. W.)
7West Café: This place is open 24/7, which makes it so convenient for when you need to talk things out with someone at even the most ridiculous hours. Tucked into a back table on the second floor has been the location of so many talks with girlfriends about love, work, friends and life.
Queen’s Park: Queen’s Park has a place in my heart because I used to trek through it every morning in the winter on my way to class at U of T, coffee in hand. In the summer, lounging around in the heat, reading and people watching made this place special. It also has to be one of the most beautiful locations in the fall when it looks like a golden heaven. I’d spend days camped out in the shade. (7 Charles St. W.)
Kensington Market: I actually had my first kiss in Kensington Market. It was in a park there. I was young, it was bad and the guy wasn’t very memorable but I love Kensington Market now for different reasons. I like the smell of the fresh fruit and the loud music playing at all hours of the day and the fact that almost everyone there has some sort of accent.
I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of my adoration for this city. Am I doing it justice? Probably not. But these are only a few of my own personal memories. I usually don’t allow myself to get this sentimental so forgive me- perhaps my anxiety regarding my last minute packing can serve as an explanation. But, as I try to cram a few last t-shirts into my suitcase, making a pact to like the new city I’m moving to but definitely not love it, I give into the fact that all those clichés- home is where the heart is or there’s no place like home- are undeniably spot-on!