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Author | Photos Tim Gouw

Dear Toronto, I’m Trying To Fall [Back] in Love with You

Dear Toronto,

K, first things first: ENOUGH WITH THE PIGEONS SHITTING ON ME. This is the second time in ten days, which is excessive, and like, how are you supposed to react when this happens? Do you overreact and properly acknowledge what just went down, or do you play it cool? Another day, another bird shit? I’m still figuring this out, but I don’t actually want to. I want to avoid this dilemma altogether. Doable?

Anyway.

What I really wanted to talk to you about is our relationship. What once was a magical, smooth-sailing ride has turned a little rocky – but we’ve still got something really cool between us, so I’m determined to fix things.

I know you’re pissed that I totally bailed on you in the dead of winter to chase my dreams to New Zealand. Talk about kicking you while you’re already down (which like, did you know how much winter in Canada actually sucks? I never fully realized just how much until I sat on a patio in Australia in the dead of their winter tanning my face. No wonder the only thing people know about Canada is Justin Bieber/Trudeau and how fucking cold it is).

That said, I hope you know how much I thought about you while I was away.

I didn’t miss you, per se. I didn’t wish I was here. But I thought of you often when I encountered a different big city that brought back that well-known feeling of sitting on a rooftop patio and seeing the skyline change from day to night, or listening to people honk their stupid car horns into oblivion.

I thought of you a lot! And I talked about you a lot! What a typical weekend in the city was like. What I wore back home vs. what I was wearing on the road. How much I missed having my own bike to just bounce around the city with. And every time you came up in convo, it made me genuinely excited to return to your big, smoggy arms. And yes, when my plane was landing at Pearson and I could see that CN Tower shining in the distance, I felt this little flutter in my heart (like, actually) and I knew I was home, and it felt beautiful to be here.

However, after all the hugging and the surprise party and that initial excitement of drinking ciders in Bellwoods wore off, I started to feel a little sad. Sad about being here. Sad about knowing this is where I was, and this is where I was still going to be the next time someone asked. Sad about knowing I was officially home. This is nothing personal, but simply a realization that my life had returned to “normal,” and I was having a hard time dealing with that.

So, after a few days of whining and crying and being a big baby about the whole deal, I realized something. Perhaps my journey wasn’t over after all. Perhaps this leg was simply an opportunity to embark on that bumpy little road of falling back in love with you.

So I hopped on my bike and went to the places I’d loved before, and some new ones too! High Park is actually so much closer than us downtowners realize, and it’s beautiful, and why don’t I spend more time there? The Beaches boardwalk. That bookstore on Queen West. The bumpin’ daytime vibe at Kensington.

I drank coffees (which were all much cheaper than the ones in NZ) and drank beers (which were all much better than the ones in NZ) and caught up with people I hadn’t seen in over six months. I walked past my favourite place in the entire city (JAVA HOUSE) and didn’t take a seat because my friends are sick of me taking them there (but I guess that’s what Bumble is for amiright?) and it made me so happy to feel this sense of familiarity. I bought smoothie ingredients, stoked at the idea of reuniting with my Magic Bullet. I fully immersed myself in the Bunz trading phenomenon once again.

And I won’t lie – I started to fall head over heels all over again.

Started to. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. But it definitely made me realize there’s a lot to you, Toronto. All those things I thought about while I was away are still here, even though I’m in this weird, anxious funk about being home. I know there’s something here even if I can’t fully appreciate it yet.

And I think that maybe this is something we so easily overlook when we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Sometimes we forget what we even like about you, let alone love you. All we remember to do is complain about the TTC and the overpriced King West cocktails and how long it took our taxi to drive around the block, and we forget why Drake loves you (and ultimately, why we do too). And what a fun opportunity to take some time before I got all settled again to reintroduce myself to all the things that make you so damn special.

So, Toronto. I think this will take some time. But I’m committed. I know it’s worth it, and I know I’m home.

That said – if you don’t get these shitting pigeons dealt with I take back everything I just said because honestly this is fucking ridiculous.

Love (almost),
Leah

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