Years ago, when watching Sex and the City I suddenly got the urge to live in The City. I, too, wanted to live in a funky brownstone in a good part of time and have lots of shoes. More importantly, I wanted a group of city-girlfriends who I could call at any hour of the day or night and they’d listen to me, help me, have a coffee or a martini with me at the all night coffee/shop/bar and completely understand all my problems and share in all my joy. I wanted to go to city parties, browse through museums, meet interesting - even famous people.
None of that happened in Toronto. At least not to us.
My husband and I are not city people. We lived in Toronto for over two years but we are from much smaller places. We have both spent some time in suburbia and I have lived in small-almost-rural towns. Even the places referred to as “cities” where I used to live were not, by any stretch of the imagination, real cities. They were just much bigger than most of the small surrounding towns and also? They had a mayor!
Dave grew up in a very suburban part of Montreal and I grew up in Hudson Massachusetts, a small town once famous for shoe manufacturing. So as you might suspect, we were ill equipped for city life - real city life, that is - not the TV city life.
Why is it that the view from your comfy sofa is always so much prettier?
Needless to say we never did experience all the things that some people enjoy regularly in the city. Because it is staggeringly expensive to live there, going to a show or trying out the new restaurant was out of the question. Dave wouldn’t waste his time, let alone money seeing a “Leafs” game (Habs fan) and I have never even gone to the top of the CN tower, although I got close once. But that’s another story for another day. Don’t worry. We have plenty of time.
We also didn’t meet likeminded friends who were just dying to have tea and sympathy with us at 3:00 am or even 5:00 pm. In fact, it was almost impossible to meet people - even the folks who lived in our condo building were not very sociable - yes, I’m talking about our neighbors, although I don’t recall any city folk referring to them that way. They would speak of a neighbor as “the guy in 502.”
Their little dogs, however, dressed in the latest in city-doggie design, regularly greeted me excitedly in the elevator, (after which his owner would look at me disapprovingly as I encouraged his dog-like behavior.) It’s interesting that dogs, even when dressed in the latest canine couture, never seem to really adopt the ways of the city. Even though their doggy treats are hand delivered to them by the condo’s 24-hour concierge, they never let it go to their heads.
Humans, however, are a different story. From my observations on the street, it appears that most city folk prefer to keep a good distance between themselves and any other human being. The Young City Profession’s motto seems to be “Plug In - Tune Out” a modern twist on Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out.” with an obviously very different meaning suited to this very different generation of young people.
Tuning Out in the city is done very easily these days, thanks to the iPhone, iPad and anything else that begins with i because let’s face it, these people really do seem to live by the adage “it’s all about me.” Subway attire always includes a plug-in device, although we have seen some other rather strange subway gear, stuff resembling hazardous materials required protective clothing. Occasionally someone might sport some vintage chemical warfare garb.
Now I don’t want you to think I’m bashingToronto or city life in general. Toronto is quite a nice city by city standards. It’s clean and relatively safe. Sixty murders a year compared to over 500 in New York! But we’re just not the type of people who get a warm and fuzzy feeling about living in a place where 60 murders occur in a year. We’re the type who wonder if anyone should.
So this is not a bash, but a short introductory post designed to illustrate the kind of life we’ve been living for the past couple of years so that you will understand why people like us might have considered making a lifestyle change - why we felt we needed a lifestyle change.
Since Dave and I are of a certain age where moving isn’t as simple as calling a few friends, including the one who has the van, we knew that any move was going to be a drain on our dwindling energy supply. So we decided that rather than make a small change that might prove disappointing, we’d make a really big change.
Neither of us is afraid of a little adventure, dare I say we both rather like the idea of change, but this latest escapade has left even our long time friends with their mouths open. Of course, because they are friends, in the true sense of the word, they supported us.
At least to our faces.