By Caitlin Kelly
This week, I’m back in Toronto — where I lived ages 5 to 30 — and Jose is in Pennsylvania visiting his sister and brother-in-law. He’s having a great time.
I hadn’t been back in 2.5 years, and usually visit once or twice every year, so it’s been too long. COVID obviously made it difficult to impossible. I’m very lucky to be able to stay with a friend as Toronto hotels are now prohibitive as well.
I’m catching up with people from my past — one, even a very good friend from high school, one I met later in life, one I’ve known since my early 20s, one a fellow former journalist against whom I competed (!) covering a Royal Tour in the 80s. One is the former partner of one of my half-brothers, someone I adore.
These are all people with whom I have a lot of shared history and culture and experiences.
I miss them!
I do love my life in New York — but America right now is such a dumpster fire of violence and racism and misogny and people in politics who are so toxic I can’t even bear to look at them.
(Canada also has plenty of issues as well, no question.)
When you leave your country of origin — even one speaking the same language as your new country — you do leave a lot behind. People don’t get your musical or literary or TV references. They don’t know your national anthem. They can’t even name the capital of your country. They’ve never heard of your alma mater, only the only Canadian one they’ve heard of instead.
Americans are deeply incurious!
It’s so comforting to be with people who “knew you when”:
— as a driven/ambitious high school student
— same in university
— same in my 20s!
But who also know your family and/or their complicated history and how it affects you still.
It’s so comforting to just pick up again, even after 2.5 years, without much preamble. I stay in fairly close touch with a few of them through phone calls and emails. This was also a relief as a recent visit in NYC to friends there felt more strained and distant.
Because Canadians probably move around a lot less than Americans, I know people will still be here, not gone to a distant city — Toronto is the center of many industries and if you don’t speak good French, Montreal can be more difficult.
It’s been a glorious time to be in the city — every lilac bush fragrant, every tree in white or purple or pink blossom.
I get around only by bus, a 40-minute ride from midtown to my friend’s quiet street, and their home, literally a block from the edge of Lake Ontario.
I needed this.