Sat on the park bench like bookends.
So goes the gorgeous 1968 song by Simon and Garfunkel.
In Toronto for a week, I’m basking in my past, catching up with men and women who have known me since I was thin(ner!) and bouncing off the walls with ambition (still am) and had not yet been married or divorced.
I left Toronto in 1986 for Montreal, New Hampshire and New York, where I’ve lived ever since. I go back two to six times a year to catch up with old colleagues and friends like:
— Vicki, who I met in Grade Four, whose backyard contains what’s left of Pickles, my late hamster
— Joe, my dreamy crush in high school, all blond bangs and deep blue eyes
— Sally, (who shared my deep crush on Joe), my best pal from high school, at whose lakeside house I’m writing this from, and with whom I re-connected at our 1995, 20-year reunion
— Marcia, who met me when I was afire, even at 20, with journalistic ambition: she was the head of public relations for the National Ballet of Canada and (yes) got me a part as a walk-on in Sleeping Beauty. I did all eight performances at Lincoln Center, with Nureyev on-stage as the Prince. It made a great story, especially when I came on-stage about 20 bars too soon on opening night!
— Peter, an architect with whom I fell madly in love on a Cartagena rooftop when we were both there on holiday in our 20s. He’s gay, so we became, and have remained, dear friends
— Stephen, who desperately wanted to marry me when I was 26, and lived with me ages 22-25, but married someone else instead and is now divorced and a PI living in the countryside. It was great to catch up on all those lost decades
— Ken, my former squash partner from University of Toronto, now a lawyer and newly, at midlife, a Dad and husband
I’ve also loved physically passing by my past…
the streetcar rumbling past Maclean-Hunter, the downtown magazine publisher for whom I started my writing career, while still an undergraduate, for a magazine called Miss Chatelaine (hence the kd lang song title!)…the Chinatown restaurant where my Dad made a film in the 1960s…my old apartment building a block from campus, and a block from my Granny’s old apartment building.
And, while Toronto is a city of 3 million or so, the degrees of separation are few:
My sister-in-law — in her early 30s — met Stephen at my U of T Malled event and knew him from rally car racing.
A man I met for a business lunch has a former philosophy professor of mine as his father-in-law
The photographer who took my photo for a story by Canadian Press works with my sweetie on freelance stories for The New York Times
What’s it like now when you visit your hometown?
Did you leave it?