While in Toronto for Jason’s CrossFit competition last week, a group of us escaped for a quick coffee break in between events. We walked up to Queen East, where there was a Starbucks at the corner, but then I remembered a cute little coffee place a bit further down called Mercury Espresso Bar. I tend to sniff out the small, privately owned coffee shops whenever possible because their coffee is always superior to that of any chain. (Sorry, Starbucks, but your milky, flavourless lattés suck!) Sure enough, it was a funky, esoteric-type of place with coffee that kicked some serious butt, the type that makes you think, It’s a party in my mouth!
In fact, it was so good that my usually quiet brother-in-law raved about it as we walked back to the gym: “Wow, how did you know about this place? This coffee’s amazing!” He was impressed by the number of cool little places in the Leslieville area and imagined living there. I jumped on that immediately: “You should! Leave the Mississauga suburbs and move downtown. Everyone should have that experience at some point in their life.” His concerns, however, are about financial viability. To him, it makes more sense to live for free at home with Mom and Dad than spend a fortune on rent. To which I respond, “Screw financial viability!!!”
Of course there’s more to it than that… which gets me to the greater point of this blog post.
I often think back on the years I spent living downtown Toronto and I’m so incredibly happy that I had that experience. I spent way too much of my student loan on non-school-related things, partied more than I should have, was totally sleep-deprived, and generally wasted time doing fun things when I should have been studying, but the truth is that it was the only time in life that I could have lived like that; thank goodness I did when it was possible. My second year of university, I barely slept. I went out four nights a week, stayed out till late, worked a part-time job, had a six-course load and a new boyfriend, yet my marks that year were the highest throughout all my university years. Circumstances change and life gets serious soon enough, and now those memories of four glorious years of relative irresponsibility – within reason, of course – are satisfying memories that never fail to put a smile on my face.
Jason would love to move back to the city sometime, but I point out that the lifestyle we had and loved once upon a time would be completely different now that we’re married with kids. Of course, Toronto would have many things to offer that we can’t get up here in the boonies, as in more than three restaurants to choose from when we go on a date, but the quality of life we have here, not to mention the lower cost of living, is irreplaceable. The things I miss – going out, partying, hanging out with a group of friends (who are now all married themselves), eating awesome ethnic food, wearing heels, and lounging in coffee shops for hours while overdosing on caffeine – are impossible with a three-year-old and a baby in tow. Even with a babysitter at home, it’s no fun staying out late because they’ll be up in the morning at 6:30 sharp, no matter what. Sadly, the definition of fun has changed for us, making those years of responsibility-free fun all the more precious in retrospect. Now, ‘serious fun’ means getting the kids to bed at 7 p.m., pulling on my sweats, and settling in for a movie and a big bowl of popcorn with Jason snuggled beside me.
Honestly, knowing that I’ve had my fair share of party nights makes it that much easier to feel content as a mother and wife. No part of me is yearning to shake off the shackles of domesticity in order to satisfy an incomplete chapter of my life. Being twenty-five and married with kids is totally okay, because the rebellion is out of my system. I’m not saying that everyone needs to go through a partying stage – each to her own, according to personality and upbringing and individual needs – but it served me well.
That said, the tough thing about a party lifestyle is breaking out of it. Both Jason and I felt that our ‘fun life’ was cut short by our unexpected pregnancy, and that was very devastating at the time; but, as he points out now, it was actually really good to end it at a high point. We left the party scene when things were still going great. If we hadn’t had our baby, though, it’s hard to know how we would have broken that pattern because it’s certainly addictive. Anyways, the result is that we were forced to mature quickly, create a stable family environment, and now we’re very happy with some great memories behind us. What more can I wish for?