Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Solstice fire on Ward's island, 21 March. 20 ft fire anyone? *Both photos by David Hanes.

It's real spring here on the island and all the icebergs have melted. Despite our planning, we've only skated twice this winter. It's easier to plan to go out in -20 C weather than to actually do it.

Yesterday's sleepy-streetcar conversation (the sound and slow movement of the streetcar usually put me in a trance) made me realize that I might actually miss North York. I found myself having such feelings of longing as I described G. Ross Lord park that I almost felt shocked with myself.

I spent the first three weeks in Canada sitting in my dark bedroom, smoking cigarettes, not eating and recording an audio diary. It was dreadful in every way. I've never encountered a suburb up until that point and Torresdale Ave was a forest of high-rises surrounded by shopping plazas. I instantly noticed a foreign smell in our new house, I can't really describe it but it could have been the smell of wall-to-wall carpeting and extra large pepperoni pizza. It was our first meal. We were all very tired and the dog frantically ran from one room to another. I refused to go outside. While my brother and sister explored the nearby park I sat in my room day after day methodically writing letters (pen and paper), recording my cracking voice and reading the Toronto Star, which was available for sale in the foyer of our building. This is what I learned from the Star: some people in Toronto kill themselves by jumping in front of the subway train, Canadians are REEEEALLLY into beer, some people actually get shot in my own neighbourhood and the columnists here are almost sickeningly polite.

Anyway, who cares, right? First reflections of an immigrant.

But I remember two things in particular:
1) One very hot night I finally decided to venture out and walk the dog with my parents at the G. Ross Lord park. It had just rained and the air was moist and I was blown away by the smell and heaviness. I felt like I could taste the air. It smelled like tree sap mixed with dog hair and rotting wood. Tiny rain droplets sparkled on individual blades of grass and the sky was dirty pink and I chased our dog in the baseball diamond between the rafters and felt good for the first time in weeks. I remember going home with a smile.

2) The hydro field directly across from my parents' house on Torresdale, the one by Westminster Memorial Gardens. I have multiple journal entries on the act of crossing the hydro field: about the humming sounds of electricity overhead, blooming dandelions, kids playing soccer until after dark, ringing bells and the constant fear of being raped or murdered or both while walking home alone at night.

All the things I used to hate about North York are what I miss right now. I miss those things because inadvertently they represent some sort of a history for me and the particularities of my North York experience make it more real, almost sensual, like if I try really hard I can smell the carpets again and the dampness of the river and imagine the way wet grass felt brushing against my limbs that night, now over ten years ago. It's better to have some history than no history at all.

Let's ride our bikes up there please. Before I leave.

Happy Spring


rantandeave said...


yram ddik said...

this was such a beautiful post!

yuula said...

thanks guys!

DFMH said...