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September back in Toronto

You know how when you live in a place you don't really go out to explore because you live there and those touristy things are for tourists? That's the way it was for me growing up in Toronto. Aside from someone else visiting and me tagging a long, there's a lot I still haven't seen.

 mix of old and new

I moved to Ottawa five years ago as of this September (I talked more on the differences between Toronto and Ottawa in this post) and for a long time it still felt like Toronto was home. When I first made the move to Ottawa, back in 2014, I was heading back to Toronto practically every week. In the last year, I've tried to head back at least once a month but sometimes even less if it's inconvenient because daily life is in Ottawa now.

When I do go back to Toronto nowadays, it's a totally different experience. It's a rather peculiar feeling like I don't recognize certain things but I know where I am. For example I still know all the streets but maybe a restaurant or store that I used to use as a landmark is no longer there. One of the plazas that is near my parent's house is now being torn down and made into condos and I was truly shocked when I drove by and saw the construction. I know I shouldn't be because that's just progress I suppose.

the new slick street cars 

endless construction

But I find I'm still able to indulge in nostalgia when I go home because for the most part, a lot is still the same. My parents haven't touched my room since I left which is sometimes nice but also sometimes a little disconcerting. All my childhood mementos are still tucked away, all my books still on my bookshelf. If I forget to pack enough clothes for the weekend and I end up putting on things I left behind, suddenly I'm a teenager again.

 Eye Candy pop-up art gallery 

My parents house is a bit like a time capsule or a time machine for me to be able to go back but I find that it's actually also a missed opportunity. I'm recalling that saying, "the past is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there."

streetcar cables remind me of a system of nerves connecting the city

A few weeks ago I got to go back for work and so I was making my way around downtown and about to meet up with a friend after work for dinner. I looked around and suddenly felt like a stranger in a foreign land. I convinced myself to just go wander instead of hitting up the usual haunts, to go exploring instead of chasing that safe sense of familiarity. I am so glad because not only did we get to chat a lot, we had no shortage of conversation topics thanks on the new interesting sights we were discovering together. I'm grateful for that night renewing both my relationship with my city and with my friend.

The Bentway under the Gardiner

Museum of the Moon pop-up art installation

On the train back to Ottawa, I thought about how the whole trip, and really life overall, goes through cyclical phases, like the moon. Waxing and waning and starting fresh and new with each rotation. Maybe it's because I've been going through some serious personal growth lately (more on this in a later post) but this experience really made me feel like it's inevitable that we change and more than possible to start over again.

A reminder to myself that things don't have to be the way they are just because they've always been that way.


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