International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Toronto Girl
- Desperate Times
flies like its invisible. You cant catch it,
save it, or see it, not until its behind you. But at least
you can remember it, cherish it and hopefully learn from it.
came up with the expression "time is money" was quite
right. As I look at my watch or look into my wallet I tend to question
where did it all go? I for one feel like Im always
running out of time, and money for that matter, as sometimes they
can be the same thing: you cant get either back and there
never seems to be enough.
It could also be
the fact that I dont always spend either of it too wisely. The
concept of buying time intriques me.
I havent been in Toronto for very long yet, but perhaps thats
all the time I need. Notably it has been crazy, wonderful. Crazy as
it drives me to such lengths, though thats just my life as I let
it, and wonderful for those moments that I revel in them.
I am very grateful to be settled into a house living with roommates
who are absolutely, brilliant human beings that despite our differences
we are reconcilable (they are also good looking which makes seeing them
in their underwear less of a shock). I also have a job at a popular,
cultural establishment that always has something going on and have a
great staff, which ensues a bit of a family atmosphere (without the
bickering). There is much to see and do here and I simply adore the
friends Ive made and every week I look forward to my Sunday nights
at the pub with my favourite, local band playing, or having coffee at
the shop around the corner, riding my bike to the park to read on a
lazy afternoon. These little things that make staying here feel cozy.
Yet, Ive been back in Canada for exactly five months now and it
still doesnt feel like home. Though "home" wont
even feel like it anymore.
Many of my friends in Vancouver are married with children now, births
and weddings that I have unfortunately missed out on. The infrastructure
of the city I used to know so well is developing for the Olympic Games
in 2010 and if or when I return I will once more have to re-settle into
another new place and find work for myself all over again. So much will
be different. It will be exciting of course and seeing everyone again
will be the ultimate highlight, but everything changes and so have I
after twoyears away. I still associate Melbourne as home even after
nearly half a year later. If I wrote this on a really good day then
my tone about my living in Toronto would indeed be on another page.
Before starting to write this I was just browsing through photos of
people I love and have had to leave off; I miss them immensely. Its
a keen ache, though I know that sounds absurd, hence, where an open
heart becomes a calloused heart. It toughens up a little and gets harder
to get through to over a while, but there is a spot that weeps and another
that softens with tenderness.
My nostalgic sensibility is based on not knowing if I belong or not,
right now? If not here, then where, when and how? Ill tell you
one thing that I do know, (even though I know I should suck it up and
stop being such a pussy,) is that this bleeding cold really gets under
my skin and has definitely made me re-consider my choices for living.
I quite enjoy the sensation of recognizing my fingers and toes as part
of my body, and yes I am Canadian but Im sorry, fuck this! Coming
from 15 months in Australia has resulted in utter wimpiness at any severity
of wind. Winter in Australia of course wasnt warm, but nothing
as cold as this that I remember in comparison. Mind you I have basically
been chasing the hotter seasons throughout the globe since 2007. So
pardon me Torontonians with your big woolly coats prancing around casually
whilst my teeth chatter!
also dont really have any peace of mind; it wanders ever so
precariously. I have changed my hair style 3 times and the colour
7 rainbows over upon arriving here, how the hell am I to make up
my mind on where to be? Nevertheless, my hair colour (from brown-red-orange-green-blond-blue-violet
so far-) and the aforementioned cold sting doesnt therefore
mean for me to just forget it, doesnt mean I have to make
my mind up this second.
I dont want
to just leave like that. I need a destination and of course I need more
time to save. My objective is to eventually be able to travel freely
for a few months. But for the time being only I must figure out what
is making me feel incomplete here and why I am starting to react a little
bittersweet and numb as of late. I am quite aware that what I am sensing
is feeling stuck. Yup, I got the city blues.
Its now mid October. Summer is over and already seems so long
ago. By now I have nothing to show for it since I didnt plan ahead,
I just got lost in working long hours and in the bustle of activity.
This recent stretch of worry is that my shifts are becoming far and
few; whereas before I could actually make money and not fret about where
it went 'cause it was regularly coming in. I never managed to save a
dime. I find in this vicious cycle of the hospitality industry, especially
during hectic schedules, after work drinks, shows in between, a trip
up north, a casual dinner party here or there, one tends to just blow
dough as soon as its put into purse. Youd think there was
a bloody hole in it! As soon as any money was made it would soon fade.
You just burn so fast because of your lifestyle, mine that I have been
leading up to this point anyhow. You get used to it and live for the
day really; work, then play. But then it slows to a halt all too quickly
and so youre not ready for it. I cannot complain I had fun, a
lot of it, I worked bloody hard throughout and I compensated with many
I got to go to Montreal which was tremendous, (its so European
feeling, Id forget it was part of Canada at the twinkling of an
eye.) There I saw jazz bands and went swing dancing, was entertained
by 3 boys who embellished nights out on the town, I ate well and drank
even better, had a picnic in the park with champagne and croissants,
I went to the Church De Basilique (replica of the Basilica in Rome),
to a pirate gallery, to a transvestite (a sweet transsexual, from Transylvania!)
burlesque show, swivelled my glass on the piano; clearly I had a grand
four days, not to mention how expensive this short holiday cost me.
I really love that city and could possibly live there one day, aside
from the fact I do not speak the Quebecois french whatsoever. My cousin
moved to Montreal and she swears by it. She also does not care much
for Toronto; (its an on-going, silly, city rivalry.) She also
lived in New York the past decade. I want to go back there too!
This summer I only went swimming a couple times, seeing as how I dont
have a car here and beaches were too far away or unclean. Apparently
the waters were not sanitary enough for people to swim in. We also had
a large garbage strike that stunk up the city and littered the streets
and our doorsteps for what seemed like 12 weeks straight. However, I
can compare Toronto to summers Im used to with lovely lakes and
mountains and beaches you can bike to from other places Ive spent
time in, though I was still fortunate to go boating (and pulled behind
one) with friends up North at a cabin, have a bonfire, and swing with
a beer on hammock. I was lucky to have floated down the Elora Gorge
with my friend and had the best rock and roll day trip. I went kayaking
with another friend in Rockwell and found a little island to play cards
topless in the glistening warmth of the sunshine
. and those were
the three times I got wet, but they were honestly magical occasions.
Oh yes and I did splash around the Water Park at "Canada's Wonderland"
once too, what a fun experience that was!
of the best rides Ive ever been on, despite the 45-minute
line-ups! I got soaked in Niagara Falls doing the "Maid of
the Mist" but that doesnt quite count as swimming, but
I had a blast going there twice and hitting up some wine tastings
along the way.
Ok so really I
cannot claim I didnt get a chance to enjoy the typical summer
beach tan, I just didnt get to take as much advantage of it as
I would have liked to, (rather I didnt get that many chances I
was always working when people were going), but the opportunities that
I did get compensated in quality over quantity. Recently I got to see
my sister who came in for a visit and shes all grown up now. Im
so proud of the woman shes become and it was nice to be able to
go to a bar together and re-bond over a pint. After she left another
mate from out West came to visit. Thats a lot of catching up to
do back to back. I mean, yes I spent all of my hard-earned money already
but it was worth it.
Today Im adjusting to the fright of not having any more of it
for a gruelling period. It shouldnt be a shock, but it is devastating.
Typically this new found, lack of work is kind of a huge downer at the
present and causing a bit of concern, as I have no money in which to
make any future plans with. Makes one contemplate the bane of existence.
During this critical, slower season where I am consistently broke and
cold, trying to be optimistic is tough, yet I also realize that I will
always manage to make do with what I got and hopefully soon enough break
through once more. When I had ten euros left to my name in Barcelona
I had the best, last few days ever. Everyone has their fair share of
just scraping by in any city they reside in, especially this time of
year (you see, everything really is about timing!) so Im convincing
myself its only temporary and in this next chance around I am
adamant to actually save, its for a good cause, and Ill
know I cant go out and blow my earnings on the spot. Things will
look up, theres always a falling point in journeys then things
sort themselves out and pick up again. Meanwhile you try to laugh it
off and sit at home watching movies eating leftovers 'cause thats
all you can do. Or I can get another job, but there is of course the
issue of everywhere is slow right now.
Five months in Toronto and still counting. Well thats a considerable
amount of time, considering how I wasnt really willing to leave
my beloved home in Melbourne, (Australia) back in May. Regardless of
being given the sudden boot from that country for over staying ... perhaps
I needed to move on
I had no choice to stay otherwise, unless
illegally. And very quickly I had to prepare for leaving my Aussie ways
and the jobs, places, my boyfriend and people I loved. I immediately
struggled in Toronto the first month and a half, but then came to love
it. Toronto takes time to grow on you, or like it chooses when you can
grow. Having to leave a familiar world behind to come to one somewhat
familiar, yet all so different was such a beguiling compromise. Arriving
alone, realizing I wouldnt be seeing my boyfriend again for lord
knows how long, without job or my own bed, it was both amusing and confusing.
I was broke, lonely, felt like I was waiting constantly for a chance.
I was torn if whether or not I should go back to Vancouver finally or
seek out and hang on. But then one day I got the job, then the house,
I made some friends and everything turned out better than I thought.
It all worked out and I am content, although now its not working
as well as I had hoped for
for now. I just lost another shift due
to there not being enough hours to go around just yet and no doubt its
gloomy outside, therefore playing up my dramatic omission. My moods
sway with the falling leaves as my nerves bustle with worry regarding
my empty bank account and no promise of tomorrow. (Sigh
By now I have itchy feet again. It happens over time rather. I could
even say itchy-cold feet, because I want to go but feel a tug to stay.
Yet I dont feel able to stay put and am getting more impatient,
its a very obstinate virtue to have but one that I do well. If
I dont feel really settled in without any future plans for where
I am lost. I cant seem to run away from my head; my thoughts are
an utter battlefield these last two weeks, ever since I discovered what
little my pay cheques will look like over the next month. I am all over
the place in my head, but not getting anywhere. I couldnt even
go anywhere anyhow, not without that darned paper stuff that will ensure
these further engagements of worldly frolic.
Before the New Year I really need to make decisions regarding where
to travel next and then choose a place to live. I am eager to live out
of a suitcase if I must, as long as its in a place where I dont
speak their language.
Toronto is my home right now until I leave and I will definitely come
back, for it is an amazing city full of opportunity and culture and
music and food and events. Vancouver will always be my home because
thats where I grew up and learned things, have family and friends,
memoirs and old schools, documents, boxes of my things made or collected
over the years - but all of that doesnt mean its right for
me to live there right now either. Melbourne suited me and I could go
back easily for it was heaps of fun. I still miss it and my boy, but
I suppose that time was then, for then, and now I need to figure out
the next step because I want something new again. The only thing stopping
me from returning to Europe and South Africa is - you guessed it - the
financial situation. There is so much more to explore and discover there,
its beauty and history is infinite. I can always come back to anywhere
in Canada and start over again; in a foreign country it costs a bit
more effort. So now is a crucial time period to wait it out then earn
my leave, and live in the meantime as much as I possibly can afford.
At least its just one more month till the busy Christmas season
and work will be plentiful. I am actually begging for Christmas to come
early. Will I be here for it? Traditional, Canadian style, turkey with
my mates for orphan dinner? or visit my family in Vancouver?
At the end of the month of December and I have been lucky to have spent
both my 25th and 26th birthdays and two Christmases in foreign
countries the last couple years, it would kind of be cool to keep up
the ritual and have it in Berlin or New York, why not? Have ticket,
will fly. Its time to save whilst I waste time. Ha, an oxymoron.
Man, I have really got to stop feeling so pitiful for myself. Ive
gotta use that energy for some serious decision making. All I know in
this moment is that I feel bad and cannot foresee a happy future here.
All I want to do is continue to cover the map over the next three years,
get well paid work that I can do travelling, learn a new language, practice
guitar, go to yoga, paint and write, help out others (including helpless
animals), have my own place with my own things, never get fat or get
cancer, find direction, have a bunch of good friends maybe even
a relationship again at some point- and I will be the happiest girl
in the world. I will get there.
Maybe Ill see some of you somewhere, sometime
© Tabytha Towe October 28th 2009
tabythat at hotmail.com
arrives in Toronto
Long Farewell to Oz 2009
Landing in Australia I knew immediately there was a special voyage
ahead of me. I didn't expect myself wanting to be there longer than
nine months, maximum. I already had my flight booked for home by a specific
date! But that was back then.....
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