The re-connection tour

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.

16 thoughts on “The re-connection tour

  1. Good on you for getting away and for getting back in touch with the people and places that, to some extent, made you. Sometimes there’s a bit of the unexpected, and not always good. When I lived in Atlanta, 1984-1990, it was known as the city too busy to hate, and it was. The last time I visited, in 2005, all that was over. What a shame. Now, where is Lakeside park, and what happens on May 24th?
    You probably saw this coming, but please know that I don’t say it because I am offended or anything like that. Qualify your statements. Famous people who disdain this practice include, but are not limited to, David Duke and Louis Farrakhan. Smell what I’m cookin’? “Some Americans” are incurious, certainly. “Many Americans”, probably. “Most Americans”, possibly. “Americans” without a qualifier is, by definition, an unqualified statement, and that means everyone who belongs to that group is defined by whatever adjective is attributed to them, in this case, by you. Wrong every time. I’m not a journalist but I am a reader of journalism and I pay attention to things like that. They can damage the reputation of a writer because they can display a certain lack of objectivity or even laziness. I would never want this journalistic death sentence to be meted out to you.
    I’m nuts about you, Caitlin. You’re a great writer and a great person, and I offer this with nothing but love and deep affection. May 24th, OK?

  2. Jan Jasper

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. I had a bizarre sojurn in Toronto in the early 70s. Really bizarre. I lived, for about 1-2 months, in a commune. I went there to be with a man I was involved with. People had no privacy. The leaders went through your trash. Monogamous relationships were frowned upon, if you wanted to just sleep with one person you were questioned. If you kept a journal, you might find that someone had ripped out a blank page to write a grocery list. I never moved in, or even considered it – at that age I didn’t think very far ahead. You can imagine that I left before long. I know this has very little to do with Toronto, but I just had to share, lol.

  3. Welcome home! Yes, Canada may have a lot of issues, but, as an immigrant who arrived here in my early twenties, I have a deep and abiding love for this country. I could not be prouder to call myself Canadian when I travel abroad.

  4. I’m so glad that you and Jose are doing your reunion tours, it sounds like these are positive reconnections for both of you. your descriptions of the people you are meeting sound like a wonderful group of suspect in a whodunit Agatha Christie mystery. the common thread is they all know you from some part of your life. )

  5. Welcome back, I hope you weren’t caught out in that storm today.

    You’re right that Canada has plenty of issues. We shouldn’t be so smug about the hatred and racism here.

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