Monday, January 3, 2011

Precious Little Life, Getting It Together

Ideally I was looking for a better way to start the day. The few hours spent in a bed (finally) were relative bliss, even if my moving around with a cast still wakes me regularly during the night. The same cast even transferred ink from the unreadable signatures all across my belly, but I didn't care. The morning was tough because I woke up early to watch my team, Glasgow Rangers-with their results inextricably linked to my mood, go down at home to their cross city rivals.

I felt down and headed towards Subway to express myself emotionally through a foot of bread. Toronto had been unseasonably warm of late, with temperatures rising to 10 degrees over recent days, but today marked a swift end of the favourable climes. Light snow felt all day, and inside the subway a homeless man was taking refuge with a cup of his coffee. As he left he was replaced by another, 'Maury', as he was greeted by the initial tramp. Dishevelled, cold and looking far removed from planet Earth, Maury shifted his fragile frame to the drinks fountain and filled up a cup from another store. The lady behind the counter greeted Maury and encouraged him to help himself to anything from the chips stand. It was a simple gesture, and given his recognition by the people in the store appears to be a regular piece of generosity. The football score stopped mattering, I was just happy to be in Toronto from then on. Besides, it's who wins at the end of the season that matters.

I had been in Toronto for over a week by today, but compared to other city visits I had been rather wasteful on the exploring side of things. Shackleton would be frowning. I did my best to make up for lost time, and instead of using the subway for mobility, I opted for the icy open air and let the kilometres tick over.

I continued my Scott Pilgrim-mage, heading towards Bathurst and Bloor, where a cluster of the scenes are set. Lee's Palace, though since refurbished was the first Pilgrim monument. The Pizza Pizza, home of the much argued 'worst pizza in North America' occupied one corner of the street, while the Honest Ed's, with a facade more akin to Coney Island than the inner city suburbs resided over the opposite side of the street.

The record store Sonic Boom garnered most of my attention. As a sign of the times, I don't have a cd player or record turntable here. Despite this I still love spending hours in record stores. The vinyl resurgence is something that genuinely excites me and if I could muster a disposable income I dare-say I'd invest considerable portions of it into rotating discs of analogue beauty.

I took in more and more of the city's record stores, despite the redundant temptation they provide. When the sun began to fall along with my the needle of the fuel gauge of my feet I paused for a cup of tea. My ego and glutton for the black leaves got the better of me, and when I placed the cup in my left hand the combination of weight and excitement got the better of me, and instead the pavement was treated to a mild dosage of antioxidants.

The second best refreshment that I opted for was a screening of Tron, where Geoff Lebowski struggles with the duality of man in cyber space. The film focuses on people getting sucked into games, and when I left the cinema I was surprised to find myself in the middle of a packed mini arcade. I was sure 2011 just began, but I felt like I had stepped back into the early 1990s. Appropriately, the vintage arcade games drew the proverbial curtains on my Scott Pilgrim-mage.

I've since stepped on a bus, and with that I'm now unsure when my feet will next touch Canadian soil. It's not often something I think of when I leave a place, though notably the same thought hit me as I was leaving Edinburgh, and I still haven't made it back. The bus stopped at 2AM for a break and supplies, and I had no idea where I was. The store inside was selling magazines like Guns & Ammo, key-rings blessing America and t-shirts emblazoned with messages about Jesus. This driver is having a hard time finding gears, and my head hasn't jerked like this since I saw Slayer in 2001. However it's all part of the Robert Frost approach to life, roads less travelled etc. As much as I would love to be unemployed and sitting at the beach right now, this winter wander is going to be a lot more memorable.

You Am I - Soldiers
Because occasionally I miss the Australian suburbs.

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