Wednesday, October 6, 2010
30 Posts in 30 Days: Day 24: Where you live
The town: Dh & I live in what's known as "the Greater Toronto Area" or GTA. Dh was born & raised in Toronto, in the city proper (close to one of the subway stations, in fact). Never in my wildest dreams, growing up on the Prairies in the 1970s, did I imagine living in Toronto. Calgary or Edmonton, maybe. Toronto?? Never!
Then & now, Toronto has always been the city that people living elsewhere in Canada love to hate. (Typical joke: How many Torontonians does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: One to hold the bulb in place while the world revolves around him.)
But Toronto & the Prairies actually have more in common than most people realize. I've come to realize that most of the people telling the insulting jokes about either place (& believe me, coming from Manitoba, I've heard enough jokes about "Winterpeg" to last a lifetime) have never actually been there.
I remember the first time dh brought me to Toronto to meet his family. We were both students then, & rode the train into the city, coming in from the western suburbs, along the shores of Lake Ontario, past the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition. I peered out the window as the towering skyscrapers of the financial district & the famed CN Tower came into view. His brother was waiting for us at the gorgeous old train station (which we now walk through, every morning, on our way to work), & drove us home. He took us down Danforth Avenue, where the street signs are in both English & Greek characters, & stopped as a Greek Orthodox priest with a long white beard wearing long black robes crossed the street at a pedestrian crosswalk. If I hadn't realized it before, I knew right then that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. ; )
Toronto has its faults, of course. The "centre of the universe" mentality does exist in some quarters, particularly on Bay Street (read: Wall Street of Canada), where dh & I work. Fighting the traffic, the mobs of people, the panhandlers on every downtown street corner, wears on your nerves after awhile (particularly when half the people seem to be staring at their Blackberries & not watching where they're going -- both on the sidewalks AND in their cars, anti-texting laws notwithstanding...!). The city has gotten both scruffier and meaner in the 25 years that I've lived here. Unfortunately, you don't hear stories anymore about movie crews having to strew garbage on the streets to make it look more like New York (& then having to do it again because the street cleaners sweep it up). The sports teams generally suck -- have for years (and yet Leafs games still sell out...!).
But it is still a beautiful, exciting city. I love the big trees & beautiful parks, the wonderful old buildings (too many of them have been thoughtlessly torn down, of course, but there are still some architectural gems around). The diversity -- Toronto has one of the most diverse populations in the world, home to people from every country in the world. Greektown on the Danforth, Little Italy & Little Portugal on College Street, Little India on Gerrard Street, the Polish bakeries on Roncesvalles, other Italian sections on St. Clair West and in Woodbridge, Chinatown downtown & the Pacific Mall in Markham.... As I have said many times -- living in this city, you have absolutely no excuse to be bored. Movies, shopping, museums, art galleries, sports teams, concerts of all kinds, theatre, readings. World-class hospitals, excellent universities -- some of the best institutions in Canada & the world are all right here. We are so very fortunate. If there's anything that truly bothers me about Toronto, it's perhaps the tendency of some people who have lived here or around here all their lives to take that all for granted.
Dh & I lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in a yuppie midtown area for the first five years of our marriage, but when we started looking for a house, we ventured out to the suburbs. We'd been out here before to visit his cousin, & wound up buying a house a couple of blocks away. (We rarely see them these days, but at the time, living close together seemed like a great idea.) Houses here were much cheaper (& newer) than what we could afford in the city, & you got a lot more house for your money. The commuter train station is just a 5-10 minute drive or bus ride away from our house, with service every 10-20 minutes during rush hour and every hour during the rest of the day. Our house is near good elementary & high schools (both public & Catholic) -- considerations in that heady period when we envisioned the family we hoped to start soon -- a short walk away from a shopping plaza with a supermarket, drug store, dollar store, dry cleaner, pizza & subway outlets, etc. etc., and a short drive/bus ride to a sizeable mall with good shopping.
The house: I've written about our house before, most recently in answer to the "30 Posts in 30 Days" question about your dream house. It's about 25 years old now, & we've lived here 20 (gulp) years -- a lot longer than we ever thought we would. We thought we'd move up to something bigger when we had kids... well, we're still here. ; ) The house is not large -- two storeys, 3 bedrooms, about 1,400 square feet, a large pie-shaped lot that would have been perfect for a swing set or pool or maybe even both. We've made various upgrades over the years, & it probably needs more... we constantly debate whether we should move, maybe to a condo? But it's a nice little house in a nice little neighbourhood. And it's ours. : )