Saturday, January 1, 2011


New Year's Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  ~Mark Twain

It ended in a rush, but in the hours before I scrambled for a bus to Aurora, I managed to fit in the viewing of some football games in-between wondering where the time in Toronto had gone. Despite my excitement, the hour long journey on the GO bus flew by. I got glimpses of Toronto's cityscape, witnessed the horrible legoland that is the impending Chapeltown estate and saw where of all the snow that has bypassed Toronto has landed.

It was cold when I got off the bus, and not just by whining Australian standards. The station was closed, but my wait in the cold was shortlived as Chris, Rosie and their extended posse greeted me from the other side of the railroad's protective fence.

It had been years since we had seen each other, but given the exposure that living and working together presents, it had felt more like a lifetime. We hugged and immediately started talking like nothing had changed. When you're friends with people from the other side of the world who meet in mutually foreign places, you realise that only company, not context is important.

We did the rounds and saw the sites Aurora has to offer - No Fills, The Beer Store and LCBO. Stocked up, we went to the new house of Joel, Chris' cousin. It was like a comic store, but with live animals. When the dog wasn't going nuts, the cat was tearing things apart. Upstairs the snakes were being fed mice and other such delicacies.

The night rolled by in a flash, though that could have had something to do with drinking on an empty stomach. We listened to You Am I, and a whole manner of ultra Canadian music like The Tragically Hip, Rush and The Tea Party as we recounted the stories about Chris' famed hospital visit and how we spent xmas and new years in Edinburgh.

I knew the night went by too quick when I woke up to a dog sleeping at my feet, a cat sniffing my face and a splitting headache. I tried to drink some coffee but instead offered an oral sacrifice to the porcelain gods in the house's basement. When I left Scotland I missed my chance to say bye to Chris and Rosie, but despite the tragedy of not knowing when I'll see them next, I was more than happy to have been able to have been in their company again.

It was time for another goodbye back at Lyd's house. Her house was filling up again, and with her, Michael and I sharing her room, the bedding had become sparse. With no sheets or pillows, I assumed my position on the mattress Lyd had found on the street and converted my pea-coat and hoodie into a makeshift pillow. It had escaped me that I hadn't slept in a bed for a week, but that's a worthwhile sacrifice for worthwhile company and new experiences.
garbage squirrel

We awoke at a time I was more familiar with staying up to, and by 4:30AM I hugged them a temporary goodbye as they headed for the airport. When I decided to go on exchange I was prepared for it to be a solo experience, but when Michael revealed that he was also applying for UMass I was comforted to know that I would have a sense of home with me. The time together had flown by, and that early morning meet-up in Williamsburg feels like an age away. We both had our own lives at UMass, but when I needed a sense of home his hilarious voice would wilfully quote TV and offer a myriad of opinions on cricket. I've since made friends at UMass and in North America, but a considerable chunk has left.

On my own, I opted for a hostel in town to welcome 2011. As plans were being formulated for heading into town, I realised that I had stuck to my sole resolution for the year; to never spend a new years eve in Wollongong again. While I feel resolutions are a fairly redundant concept (don't wait for January 1 to make a change), I only want 2011 to pick up where 2010 left off. Living at Exeter and then studying abroad made 2010 a particularly excellent year, and I have many reasons to feel this one will be even better, even if it means living in the red for a while.

In the hostel I met Steve and Ivan from California, as well as Andrew from Ipswich. It was an initially an eerie beginning to the night, with nothing open at 9PM on new years eve. At 10 when they did open, all the places were charging an exorbitant cover. We found velvet, what looked like a crappy industrial club and paid their more inviting cover charge to enter.

Inside the place was initially full of goths and other assortments. A band played a 4 song set as the clocks got closer to 11PM. The dj began dropping tunes by Depeche Mode and The Smiths and I began wondering what year it was.

The appeal of what must have been Canada's cheapest drinks caused a late influx into the club and at 11:30 the place was packed, with all the goths outnumbered by pickled hipster types. A television in the club was showing a newscast of the city celebrating the new year, and after receiving complimentary champagne, everyone rung in the new year two minutes after the television...and the rest of the time-zone.

Though I was looking forward to the relative comfort of a hostel bed, along the way I got invited to a house after the club. As the invitee Tiff waited for me, I was surprised to find the ride back that had been organised was actually a limo. I had never been in one before, and as a number of us packed in like sardines the driver threatened to throw everyone out for fucking about too much.

The ride was too much for the guy next to me, as he initially spewed out the window, then in the limo before finally finding his garbage bag. 2011 had already got the better of him. The limo rolled on, and after an hour I had no idea where I was. Despite my lofty expectations of a hostel bed's comfort, settled for the comfort of another couch.

The next day I was fortunate to receive a ride back from Acton, the name of the mystery place I spent the night. Exhausted, I am now able to finally sleep in a bed. Tomorrow night, I'll be trading it for the seat of a bus.

*** Song
Morrissey - The Last of the International Playboys
According to Steve and Ivan, who speak from their own personal experiences 'all hispanics love Morrissey'.

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