I’m on the subway, returning from the warehouse wastelands of Kipling (the furthest stop west), where I picked up my new phone, but I can’t switch it on because I need a charged phone today. My parents are without power since an ice storm crushed Toronto last night and left a lot of the GTA without power, possibly until after Christmas, so I’m traveling to their house in Markham to roast sausages in the fireplace.
Grabbed everything I need from my apartment, and I’m back on the subway, heading to Union to catch a GO train. What a crazy day. Hope I remembered everything. Beside me is my Fiesta Farms wheeled-luggage-bag with a duffle bag strapped on top, and I’m wearing my backpack. Funny enough the Fiesta Farms wheeled-luggage-bag is actually filled with food – my dutch skillet and ingredients for a four pound Tourtière (that I cook every Christmas eve), bagels from What-a-Bagel (or some-such-named-Forest-Hill-place). And booze!
I’m feeling vulnerable to absent minded travel errors. Union Station is the craziest, largest construction zone for running around trying to find the elevators to platform 24. But Apollo Brown is the perfect soundtrack for crowds of winter ice storm survivors and Rob Ford on the television giving reports on emergency power restoration and clean-up.
The damage from this ice storm is catastrophic. So many trees down. It looks beautiful, the centimeters of ice encasing branches, twigs, and winter berries, but the death of the trees, so sad.
I’m on the train, leaving the station, leaving the city. My window faces south. The Gardiner Expressway is going by, and Red Path sugar, Loblaws, warehouses, and now the other trains are blocking the view. It’s getting dark; still light, but the expressway lights and Lakeshore blvd lights beneath the expressway are on.
Now I’m seeing the expressway – packed with tail-lights leaving the city – sink and disappear beneath me. The train is passing a park with a lit outdoor hockey rink, and guys playing shinny. And now a red brick factory...row houses...getting darker...until only the reflection of the train’s interior is in the window.
My first memories of Toronto all involve being surrounded by a place I could easily get lost in. There were the days when I’d stay with a friend from my adolescence who grew up in Greek Town. He would lead me to coffee shops via subways and underground corridors that, to me, were like secret routes burrowed by opium smugglers.
And there was the jazz show I went to with my high school friends (so sometime in the 90s), and it was the first time I went to Little Italy, which has this cute little s-curve in its main-strip, and I was observing the curve in the winter, snowflakes highlighted in the globe lights, and thinking, “I have no idea where in the city I am right now.”
Now I’m sitting in my parents basement, full on Chinese food. We’re crowded around the fire place, listening to Jazz FM. There are candles on the table. I’m writing by candle light, like this is a Dickens novel or something.