Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Goodbye, Toronto

I’m saying my goodbyes to Toronto. I’ve seen my last Hot Docs Festival film, and I’m just back from my last author program. I’ve probably had my last roti, checked out my last book at my local branch library, gone to my last art workshop. Horror of horrors, I’ve even watched my last play.
The thing about my Urban Infusion Months is that I get attached. I embrace my new city – even my new neighborhood – and then I feel such nostalgia over leaving it. I leave little bits of me and my experiences all over.
When I first arrived and wrote my last post about the thrill of being a little bit scared, a little bit curious; my friend Helen replied, “How are we friends when we’re so different?! Reading this one made me realize how much I now like creating new routines and avoiding confusion!!”
As I told Helen, “I definitely create new routines. It’s just that they’re new routines, not the same old, same old for the past 35 years!”
So I’d start off every morning checking blogTO to see what new things they’d found for me. And I’d stop off at my Riverdale Branch Library where the librarian posted a new poem every day of April for Poetry Month.

Many nights, I’d catch The Great Canadian Baking Show – four seasons’ worth! – after I figured out the TV remote. I learned that Montreal-style bagels have bigger holes than New York bagels and they’re boiled in honey water instead of plain water. They look scrawny and burnt as opposed to New York’s plump and golden, but that honey water holds a LOT of garlic and onion. So when blogTO announced the opening of Kettleman’s Bagels, I headed down there to check them out and watch the bakers in the window. I do that a lot. A half-dozen bagels are coming back to Alaska with me.

I learned where the Apple store was when my external hard drive crashed, so I knew where it was when Tim lost a cable. Around the corner, Yael has put the recipe for my hair color in the files so she can repeat it. When I discovered that Nova Era Bakery in Little Portugal has a wonderful little café in back, I took Elizabeth and Tim there, too. It’s my new “Spot,” right near Galo de Barcelos.

I have my favorite FreshCo, my favorite COBS Bread, my favorite Bulk Barn, even my favorite Dollarama with my favorite licorice. I have my favorite streetcar (although Tim insists I’ve never met a streetcar I didn’t love). I have a tried-and-true walk up the hill to the subway, and I know where the bad puddle exists permanently in Riverdale Park. I even have a favorite spot on the couch in the apartment living room.

Still, no one sits next to anyone on the TTC yet, and there’s even distancing spaces in theaters, so my salvation has been Meetup: Walking Adventures with Deb. Several times a week, Deb leads us through the nooks and crannies of Toronto to the glorious greenery of the ravines, paths, and rivers. We’re outdoors and unmasked and walking and talking. Siobhan, Penny, Anna, Phyllis, Janet, Alison, and so many other welcoming folks made such a difference. I see what’s ahead on the calendar, but I won’t be here.
On Sunday afternoons, the Danforth Jewish Circle let me be a part of their Jewish community and their art workshop to create a print for a tapestry for the sanctuary. Now I’ll only see photos when it’s finished.

In all my reading and conjecturing about parallel lives and multiverses, I think about all the branches of my lives that take off after I’ve left them. There’s the Anchorage Barbara, the Toronto Barbara, the New York Barbara, the San Francisco Barbara, and even the Costa Rica Barbara. If I’d stayed in one place, I could hold my life close and let it continue. But by starting new lives in several places, I have to let them go.
This is the sweet and sad part. I have to let them go.
Because there’s another part of me that wants to lie with Tim on our back deck in Anchorage and look out over the yard that’s held barbecues and potlucks, croquet games and badminton games, Sophie’s playhouse and once-healthy spruce trees. To bask in all the history of 37 years in one spot.


  1. Barbara, I love reading about your adventures as you so boldly embrace the new and unknown!

    1. Thank you. I love the new and unknown and letting it become the familiar ... and then I have to leave it behind. (sigh)

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  3. I too find enrichment by exploring new geopolitical and geographical areas and engaging in local lore. I’m more into the historical aspect but I’m envious how you enmesh and experience current culture!
    Now I need to compare the Toronto bagels to my highly held New York version 😋.

    1. Just before departing, I discovered free history walks by the Royal Ontario Museum, and I loved them!


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