One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
I grew up in Barrie. While the place has changed itself beyond recognition, most of the people there remain the same.
It was the night before my grandmother’s 80th birthday. My brother, Gordon, opened up a bottle of Quetzalteca that I brought him from Guatemala. As his girlfriend Hollie noted, “It’s like rubbing alcohol without the blind.”
My mother poured herself a drink, and iced a cake for my sister. My dad often plays guitar in the basement.
We had a dance party in the meantime.
Ah, Brampton. I was born in Brampton. Now, my grandparents and extended family live here.
One of my aunt’s living in Brampton has cancer. She’s the youngest of my mother’s four siblings.
After a bout with the hospital and spending weeks with a lump growing under her arm before they scheduled surgery, she’s now on Interferon. She held the party for my grandmother and sister just before beginning the difficult treatment.
And so, we danced.
Young and old, we danced to the Michael Jackson Experience. Thriller! Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough!
Later on, back in Barrie, my siblings and I taught a couple of Canadians our Bajan half’s favourite dance: the Dollar Wine.
I had never really spent much time in Toronto, until this October and November.
And I was really surprised at what an awesome city it is.
Beyond the stereotypes, terrible scenery and mayoral flaws, Toronto is a beautiful place. It really is a city of neighbourhoods, and the communities each have their own flavours and styles.
During my visit, I ate Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Bajan, Ethiopian, Greek, Mexican and Indian foods. They were all delicious.
I visited a fromagerie in the Kensington Market. I played tuba with people with developmental disabilities in Parkdale. I worked in the King West Village. I spent a lot of time with a very good friend at his house in the Junction Triangle. I went to video installation with videos and pictures of naked people on Dundas Street West (I could have had my naked picture taken, but alas, I didn’t have time before I left).
This city is incredibly diverse.
I couldn’t really care less for the city, truth be told.
I keep coming back only for the people I know (and the occasional shawarma).
I spent most of my time here with friends I made during and after university. Because of the accumulated time I’ve spent in their houses, I owe each at least three months on my couch, whenever they choose to accept it.
This trip, we played board games. We drank beers. We played with their cats. We ate shawarma and pho.
I visited my brother, going to Ottawa’s Lookout for drag night. We sipped on drinks as drag queens lip synced on stage.
I bused past Parliament. I wandered the Rideau Centre, trying to move from bus stop to bus stop. I went back to my friends house.
On my last night, I ate dinner at the new restaurant owned, by the man who ran the restaurant where I worked during my time at Carleton University. The menu was almost exactly the same. The quality was great.
The company – exquisite.
I made a quick detour to Montreal to visit my partner’s cousin, who just immigrated to Canada from Paraguay.
We walked around the city for a long time, talking about family, friends and life in general.
We ate at one of my favourite little Montreal digs, Patati Patata. There, I had my usual tofuburger-salad-poutine combo, and she had a burger and her very first poutine.
Although she had lived in Edmonton for seven months a few years ago, she did not know what gravy was.
I suppose that’s a testament to how good the meat is in South America and the house she stayed at in Edmonton – the beef in these places is so moist and delicious that it doesn’t need a gravy.
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A few days before leaving the country, I ran into a friend in a coffee shop in Toronto. I went to university with this woman. We lived near each other Victoria, and this past year we also lived in Mexico at the same time.
We laughed about how small Canada is, as she said she was only in Toronto for a couple of weeks to work at the One of a Kind Show and Sale.
As such, I visited her “Sister Sister Buttons” booth, picked up a few of her pins and sat with her. After I explained why I picked out each pin, she noted many customers had the same jokes and lines regarding them, and people will often pick one up and explain how fits a friend/sister/brother/grandmother/mother perfectly.
Like the one about duct tape. People love duct tape, it seems.
“I ♥ beavers” was popular with people who knew it’s undercover meaning, as well as with those who didn’t.
And people apparently like to give their ministers the one that says something like “Jesus is coming – quick, hide!”
Even sitting there for a few hours, I could see that her customers loved to tell her why they were picking out certain ones, and often reasons were the same.
My friend pointed out that through all the differences, you can see all sorts of similarities between people.
Now if only they could see them, too, she noted.