Tuesday, December 28, 2010

May the bridges I burn light the way

 The arrival into Toronto was a breath of figurative fresh air. Skyscrapers, the busyness of a metropolis, subways and escalators are all things lacking in Amherst, and despite leaving Wollongong to see more of the world, part of me is still disappointed that I didn't choose a bigger city. With the attraction of bright lights, I don't foresee myself staying in Wollongong much longer, but at 24, I hoped I'd be there by now.

Michael and I joined Lydia in going one way, while John got lost on his opposing journey. Despite my intentions of moving to a big city, riding the packed underground trains with a backpack reminded me that there is bad with the good. On the advice of a lady with a hilarious Canadian accent, I exited in reverse at some stops, only to hop back on and regain my place in the sardine can.

With our bags dumped at Lyd's house adjacent to Bonar Place, like every white suburbanite, we opted for dinner at the Asian restaurant that was predominately propagated by Asians. Over the last few weeks I'd limited my meat consumption, not for ethical or health reasons, but for a sense of self-determination. It was with that same lack of ethical conviction or self-determination that I was able to break the embargo. There were no other options on the menu, and when it's minus whatever outside, it's incredibly discourteous to make your colleagues find another place for cheap chow.

Being in Toronto, it was fantastic to start on the Scott Pilgrim-mage so early into the visit. Dufferin Mall was the highlight of Xmas Eve festivities for Michael and I. Frozen pizza, cheap beer, tins of soup and North American cereal characterised our extravagance. Once Lyd left, we had the house to ourselves with ample supplies and weather that turns a socialite into a hermit.
Lucas Lean

We spent xmas eve skyping home to our families, who due to rules about time and space, were enjoying their sun soaked xmas morning. I'd previously spent another xmas on the other side of the world, and with no disrespect to my family and friends, it was one of the most fun I'd had. Forty or so travellers all convened in the dining room of the Edinburgh Globetrotter's Inn, shared gifts, turkey and got properly lubricated. This was different though, seeing my family at the other end of the webcam while only Michael and I occupied an inner-city Toronto house was much lonelier than Scotland, even if it was whiter.

Our xmas started late, with a requisite sleep-in for the first December 25 in my memory. There was tea with cereal, but shortly after a beer can was cracked and we preceded to watch 'Elf'. Our day of watching xmas films was interrupted by the cricket back in Australia. The Australian performance was hardly enhancing the festive mood, and before too long we gave up on the game for The Muppets Christmas Carol.

The need to resume the cricket vanished, we pushed on with the beers. I didn't receive any gifts over here, but for the first time in months I managed to get in some phone time with my favourite driving instructer, Amy. Though the internet had presented intermittent opportunities to communicate, the phone call was infinitely more lovely, and a better way to end a quiet xmas.

Boxing day was a more social affair, and with Lyd returning and another of her friends, Natalie, joining, we went to Sneaky Dees - another Scott Pilgrim haunt - for an exhaustingly massive meal. Natalie's car was fantastically 1980s American. It was bigger than a Sydney to Hobart yacht, wood panelled, velour lined and sans seat belt. It was a vagrant's dream, but a mechanical inspector's nightmare.

Despite living in America for a few months, I struggled to finish my $7.50 wrap while the latest Arcade Fire album played in the background. After dinner Michael and I were summonsed to Queen st for a night with John St John. The walk was one of the coldest moments of my life, not helped by us getting lost, but eventually we met up and headed for Drake.

As we were entering the bar a girl was outside convincing a bouncer not to remove her friend. She didn't win the case, but consoled herself by making out with some guy in the foyer of the club. The place was getting busy, and when we were offered a table by a leaving couple we took it. John's friend, Dimi, immediately took a full bottle of vodka from the neighbouring table as soon as the occupants left, but the security was swift in their reunitement of potato juice and original table. We were promptly removed from our table for a reservation shortly after.

As the night wore on more and more people were shamelessly making out. Two guys who resembled members of the Mossad danced over-enthusiastically while a waitress dropped a whole tray of empty glasses. The first time out of many for the night. After a few hours, simultaneously Michael, Dimi and myself headed straight for the club's exit. John was more hesitant, but outnumbered.

While the walk to the club was the then coldest moment of my life, the return leg was even worse. I wore a beanie over my face, feeling the cold hurt more than any injury caused by blindness. Though I didn't stick around to confirm, I assume the by-product of my pit stop quickly turned to a cousin of the famed yellow snow Frank Zappa wrote of.

We'd arranged to meet John at Toronto Castle, or as it is correctly know, Casa Lomo. We were late, beyond the point of knowing exactly how late because the units seem insignificant. The castle is more Scott Pilgrim scenery, along with the Baldwin Steps, the site of Scott's triumph over Lucas Lee.

It was cold, and like a high class prostitute, way too expensive to see from the inside. To escape from the cold we went to Toronto's Time Square, Dundas Square. It's as ugly as it's New York brethren, though less congested. Batman  was out the front 'performing' for confused pedestrians. We bypassed the caped crusader, opting for a film instead. If anything, it was a prolonging of time with John, as at the end he and Michael had to say their good-byes.
The worst Batman since Clooney

It's been an epic tale of epic good-byes, and I was lucky to avoid another one by arranging to see John in New York City. I had hoped that after last week I had gotten over them for a few months, but it's short-lived. While I'll be seeing old friends from Edinburgh over the next few days, my return for new years eve is more than just a farewell to 2010, I'll be seeing off Lydia and Michael as well.

It's temporary - we'll see each other again in Wollongong - but my safety net over here is about to get dramatically smaller.

Tokyo Police Club - Breakneck Speed
My new favourite band from Toronto. Very excited about seeing them in NYC

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