Saturday, August 18, 2007

West of Center

I don't take vacations very often, generally because my jobs don't afford paid time off and I like to do things like put gas in my car and have shoes on my feet. Which really just lets me go to work; it's a nasty cycle, I know. Also, if I don't give them money every autumn, the people at the university get testy and that tends to make things a bit awkward.

But I digress.

Having a full time job for over a year let me take time off this year, and I used the opportunity to go visit my cousin Allene in Toronto. A week in the heart of the hustle and bustle, I figured, would either kill me outright or encourage some sort of regeneration of the fleshy and ghostly selves. It turns out, it was the latter. I really needed this.

It's hackneyed to say, but everything really is different on vacation. Even when we were just sitting around at 2am watching Scrubs it seemed to have a revitalizing effect. A day on the Toronto Islands fulfilled the Fun in the Sun quota as well as a rather impressive hole-digging on the beach. There was an art show, a historical house complete with cute tour guide, the CBC Museum, Royal Ontario Museum and lots of walking. Oh god, there was a lot of walking. I'm walked out, spent. If I was a thinker, I'd parlay that into an excuse not to exert myself back home. Instead, when I'm laying on the floor and someone dangles the leash in front of me, all I can muster is a low moan. I close my eyes and think of all the places I walked to. Like the grocery store where we bought ice cream (twice!). or the Future bakery where we bought cheesecake. Or the restaurants. Or Starbucks. Guessing a pattern?

One thing I was consistently surprised with was how green downtown Toronto is. It's a genuinely beautiful place at times, filled with gardens and trees. Edmonton could take a cue from it, instead of paving over the grass. The city also has a certain sense of history surrounding it; the architecture has a certain weight that the urban prairie lacks. We're a fan of boxes here, big brown and grey ones. Toronto, she's an old-fashioned dame, and she's got a certain shapely swagger that can be kind of irresistible.

Allene was, true to her parents, a spectacular host. She even threw my sister and myself a party. If I get the chance, I'll try to return the favour. But since we might be spending Christmas visiting her and her family in Vancouver, there may be another upcoming chance for me to eat her food.