Do you love your city? Hate it? Feel neutral?
I grew up in Toronto, a city many find lovable today, less so when I left 20 years ago. Today, some compare it to Houston in its flat, endless sprawl and unlovely architecture. I’ve been to Houston and Houston doesn’t have Lake Ontario and its lovely little islands a 10-minute ferry ride away — or, perhaps most crucially, my history. Cities are collections of roads and buildings and parks, more or less polluted, more or less pleasant, with fantastic/lousy public transit systems.
It’s the smaller, more intimate charms that may bind us to our cities of origin or choice. I love Toronto’s many funky old diners, dating back to the 1960s, 1940s, even several — often used as film sets between customers — from the 1930s. I miss its enormous, lovely, generally safe parks and its deep ravines, memorialized in Margaret Atwood’s book “Cat’s Eye.” I love the indoor St. Lawrence Market, one of the world’s best, an enormous hall filled with every possible food, the peameal (“Canadian bacon” to Americans) bacon sandwiches a favorite classic.
But most of all, I miss my friends and the history we have. I’ve also lived in Montreal, London and Paris and have spent much time in Manhattan, just south of where I live. I love visiting Montreal, but I loathed living there: long, bitter winters; nasty French-Anglo relations; insanely high taxes; corrupt police; lousy libraries and hospitals; high crime rate and potholed roads. For a long weekend, terrific! But I have a small soft spot for it, having met and fallen in love with my ex-husband there. I adore Paris, but as much for the life-changing fellowship year I had living there as for its famous, well-known charms. Its streets are filled with memories for me.
Here’s an interesting piece from The Guardian on why we love, or hate, where we live.
How do you feel about your city or town? What makes you love or hate it?