I’ve missed you, city girl.

photo: torontoguesthouses.com

This used to be home, and yet today I feel like a stranger. My eyes and ears race to process the stimulation I’m receiving from all sides — clanging streetcars, mumbled bubbles of conversation, floating clouds of cologne, ridiculously trendy people rushing past with small dogs on leashes, smells of shawarma and coffee and wings drifting out of open doors, screaming firetruck sirens, water-filled pails with flowers blocking sections of the sidewalk, bicycles and cars fighting for road space. This is the east end of Toronto, mere blocks away from where I once spent four years of my life, but now it feels like a foreign land.

RSquared — the cute coffee place where I wrote this post.
Anyone know what “zili otto” is?
Pretty bicycle


Ahh, to own a French olive grove!


I love going into The Paper Place


This is a disturbing revelation because I like to think of myself as someone who can slip easily between urban and rural worlds. In fact, there was a time in my life when I thought I’d been mistakenly raised in the wrong place. I had discovered my inner city girl during university and felt more comfortable downtown Toronto than in the forests of Muskoka. Once, I even admitted to my horrified parents that I felt a sense of relief when I returned to the city, when I left the endless forests and lakes behind and passed through the northern suburban limits of this vast city, approaching the lake and towering skyline while feeling excitement mounting in my heart. For so long, I truly believed I’d found my place…

…until circumstances forced me to leave, and now I love my small town life with such intensity that it’s hard to imagine going anywhere else. Ah, this is the painful consequence that comes with moving, travelling, discovering new places — and, perhaps, the price I must pay for opening myself up to those new places. There’s only so long I can remain untouched or unmoved by a place and, inevitably, within a few months, I will have fallen in love once again.

What worries me, though, is that my personal claim on urbanity will grow weaker if my associations with the city become fewer and far between. Over the three years since I left Toronto, I’ve been coming back less and less. I just don’t have the same reasons for returning anymore. Friends have moved away, or moved on, or been replaced by new and geographically-closer friends. We’ve localized our services and no longer drive to the city for appointments with the dentist or optometrist. The security of permanence in a new place is bittersweet, for with it comes loss.

Maybe I shouldn’t fear losing the city girl inside me because she’s probably not going anywhere. As long as I continue to love this wonderful city, even if I’m not living here anymore, those urban years that made such a big impression on me are undoable and permanently imprinted on my soul.

And then there was dimsum with my lovely sister.
And then there was dim sum for dinner with my lovely sister!

7 thoughts on “I’ve missed you, city girl.

  1. There are only three things that are important enough to make me want to brave the jungle that is downtown Toronto – family, close friends that feel like family, and dim sum! For everything else, there’s the internet 😉

  2. I would love to be able to escape the city and go back “home” in northern Ontario…but the jobs just aren’t there…and so we live in the burbs and commute into the city for work. I do love the restaurant choices in Toronto though,…you can find anything and everything …plus we’ve got the Leafs!

  3. Everything is relative. I was thinking of your post when I was riding my bike across Toronto today picking stuff up for my trip to New York CIty on Wednesday, thinking I am finally going to get out of this small parochial town to a real city for a couple of days.

    Toronto is just a pile of small towns packed really close together.

    1. That’s funny. Everything shrinks as you get to know it. And you’re making me envious of that trip to NYC, which, embarrassingly, I’ve never visited. Eek. It’s about time, I know!

  4. I actually do know what Ziliotto is! Jennifer Ziliotto designs amazing clothing for real women of all ages and sizes 🙂 I doubt my wardrobe would have evolved from high school clothing to ‘grown up’ clothing if I hadn’t discovered this place!

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