I’m writing this from the airport; about to board a flight to Chicago for a whirlwind, 42 hour weekend to reunite with my sister. As someone who truly, madly deeply fears flying (despite the 44000 km I’ve recently flown), I was surprised by how genuinely excited I felt to be back in an airport.
I felt very elated and weirdly emotional walking into Pearson because the last time I walked IN instead of OUT of the YYZ doors I was GOING TO NEW ZEALAND, and it was snowing and I was crying and he was being so nice about it. And now I’m walking in again 8 months later and it is so WEIRD to think about the fact that so many things have happened in between; the fact that all of that – the vans & the baby wipes & the Monkey Island snorkelling – was real and not this weird, distant dream that it feels like now.
And I know. Like. GET OVER IT LEAH. You went away and you came back and you’re really emotional about it all the time. We get it.
BUT a) writers are obviously super in tune with their feelings, so gimme a break people and b) It’ is genuinely crazy! It’s crazy how fast time goes and it’s crazy how we all just blow around in the world and meet people and feel things and take naps and go on dates and just like, keep living through all of that. And then suddenly a song comes on or a memory gets sparked somehow and we zoom back to this person or place or thing and feel those feelings all over again. It’s really intense and it’s really hard to express these emotionally-charged memories to anyone because they weren’t there and they don’t get it and there’s a part of you that doesn’t really want them to. You want the feeling for yourself, and you don’t want to ruin it by trying to explain it, so you just don’t. And that isn’t a sad thing, it’s simply a thing I lately feel very aware of.
So, as an emotionally-charged writer who has just experienced a two month string of returning to places and people and things that did, in fact spark a fuck ton of memories and feelings that I wasn’t sure how to put into words, I figured the best way of trying was by sharing the places themselves via a good ol’ fashioned roundup. A “top 5” situation – only in the spirit of this glorious city, let’s make it a “top 6ix” (because I think that’s genius and I’m laying claim to it right now before a bigger better blog comes along and claims it as their own).
But the thing is, usually these roundups come from people in the know. People immersed in the ‘scene’ who can sniff out the trendiest street food from a mile away. I, however, have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t know the best cocktail bars in the city and I have no idea what date spots to recommend. What I do know is the places that made me feel overwhelmingly home; that made me feel simultaneously thankful for leaving and thankful for coming back.
And so, here’s a conventional countdown with an unconventional twist: A roundup from a blogger who has weird taste & low standards & really, really heightened emotions.
Everyone hates the fact that I always want to go here, but nothing makes me appreciate Toronto more than this dingy watering hole – especially on this post-travel budget of mine. Their food tastes as cheap as it is, but that’s the beauty of it. SELF AWARENESS! Plus you can work on your knitting while sipping a pint and no one will think that’s weird.
The cash only/no split bills rule isn’t pretentious and annoying here. It just feels like management said fuck it and couldn’t be bothered getting a debit machine. And who can argue with that? I don’t want a debit machine either.
Spadina Subway platform
The TTC is an extremely shitty & unreliable way to get around the city. HOWEVER. On my first day of my new job as I stood waiting for the subway, wearing real-person clothes with uncomfortable shoes and a resting bitch face in full force, I felt SO good. I felt ready and eager and excited about getting back into this whole industry and having a routine and using LMK in an email trail again. It was time, and I felt good about it, and I knew I was really proud of what I had just done and I was going to be proud of this new chapter too, and that felt really nice to know.
Jenn Britton’s condo
I mean, a) it’s Jenn and b) her patio has this really nice view of the CN tower/”skydome” (you know, that ‘Toronto’ view) and when I went there a few days after I got back it gave me so many feels. It was so nice to sit in this place with this person I had really missed, fully recognize I was home, and feel happy about that. In that moment I felt so, so happy to be here, and I needed to feel that because prior to that moment I felt very unsure if coming back was an emotionally-wise decision at all, and it was such a relief to know that somewhere inside me I was still very excited about my life here and I was exactly where I had to be.
Last Fall Trinity Common – who was the new kid on the block at the time – had a pumpkin beer on tap. I was reluctant, but ordering it proved to be one of the single best decisions I’ve made to date. It was so good that I went back for more 4 TIMES IN ONE WEEK (with 4 different people who appreciated it almost as much as I did).
This statistic is alarming – and perhaps says something about my personality that I’m not sure I actually want to know – but all of that aside, this bar had found its way into my heart and I would never be the same.
From first dates to last dates, reunions with old friends and goodbye parties that filled the place with so many of my favourite people, Trinity Common has become my go-to for all life event’s – so it only felt natural to come here on my first day home for the biggest reunion yet.
My room felt like a store – SO many clothes and shoes and things I had so easily lived without for 6 months but felt so excited about having again. I had a giant, comfortable bed all to myself and a shower I could use for free WHENEVER I WANTED TO. I felt spoiled and I felt lucky and I couldn’t wait for my roommate to get home from work so we could hug it out and talk about life and holy shit balls I was really, really, really HOME!
Starbank Convenience Store
Because when I went in to buy my first post-NZ chip/dip combo at my go-to corner store, the same man was working there who I had purchased this exact combo from so many times before. He said hello, and asked where I had been, and I told him, and I felt really proud of my answer (& embarrassed that not going into a convenience store actually went noticed. Like, what does that say about me). But I felt proud anyway – and really comforted at the idea that I was in a place where I had built a life; where I knew people and places and people knew me too (even if it was a convenience store employee. Like, that’s very embarrassing. But also kind of special).
Stay tuned for more of my top 6ix – next on the list? The top 6ix places to go if you want to feel more important than you actually are.