You have always been good to me. I turned to you at eighteen, lost in my own skin and desperate for a fresh start. You accepted me despite the obvious flaws (including but not limited to my suburban origin) and I appreciated your unconditional love from the beginning.
I might as well cut to the chase. I’ve left you. I hope you believe me when I say that this wasn’t planned, nor was this an easy decision to make. I owe you an explanation, I know. Just please, read what I have to say until the very end. That’s all I’m asking.
It’s pretty simple: I fell in love with somebody who lives four thousand miles away.
He’s really great. You’d like him a lot. He came to visit me a few times and quickly grew to love you the way I love you. He excitedly snapped photos of Parkdale’s “You’ve Changed” mural, spent hours exploring the Hockey Hall of Fame and stomped on fallen leaves in Trinity Bellwoods. The plan had always been for him to move so the three of us could be together. But as time went on, that seemed harder and harder to make happen, so I decided to make the move instead.
It wasn’t easy to leave you. I cried while packing, I cried at YYZ, I cried at LAX, I cried for a week following. But now that some time has passed, I know that we’re better off apart. I wasn’t happy anymore and grew tired of you. I was running into an ex every time I walked down Queen West, I was stuck at a dead-end job in the Village. I’m pursuing love, I’m pursuing my career—I mean, isn’t that what you were preparing me for anyway? You taught me everything I needed to become the person I am today.
You taught me how to be selective with how I spend my time and who I spend it with.
You taught me how to work hard and wait for success. With you I started out broke in every meaning of the word and ended a few years later with a salary, a portfolio and a sense of perseverance.
You taught me how to learn from my mistakes. I was with you when I smoked my first cigarette. I was with you when I smoked my three hundredth cigarette. I was with you when I quit.
You taught me to pursue passion instead of financial security. You provided the opportunities that led me to excel at exactly what my high school art teacher had convinced me I’d fail doing.
You taught me how to heal. You got me through rave-obsessed roommates, half-hours past last calls, streetcar track-induced concussions, every level of hangover possible, 8 a.m. classes and full-blown misery. I hadn’t experienced heartbreak until I knew you, and I came out of you alive.
Most importantly, you taught me how to love myself. You gave me mornings biking down the Woodbine Beach boardwalk, and evenings disco dancing with strangers at the Piston. You loved me, appreciated me and respected me exactly as a partner should. You set the bar high.
Please do something for me. Be there for the young people that live in you and trust you, as they experience everything that I experienced. Hold their hair back when they throw up. Hug them when their hearts are broken. Take them on a Scott Pilgrim tour. Take them to the Pride Parade. Let them flourish. Let them thrive.
Thank you for everything, Toronto. I will never stop loving you. Now go make somebody else’s life as good as you made mine.