I had been looking to leave the country, or at least the greater Chicagoland area, for a variety of reasons. My grandmother recently asked me to move out of her house, for reasons unknown, as she won’t even be back until February. And, in retrospect, I realize that even being in Chicago itself was causing me undue stress. I think it came down to having too much control over my schedule. I was ultimately responsible for everything I did as a result of living alone. I was also responsible for taking care of my grandmother’s house, my aunt’s tenant, and other things.
The end of the year is a weird time for me. I become at once withdrawn, waiting for various events to occur, and outgoing, captured by the idea that I should do something for my birthday. It’s an anxious sort of back and forth. I generally tell myself that I’ll let my birthday slide right up until the night before, and then do something impulsive to try to get people together, with mixed results. This year, I gave myself a trip to Toronto as a birthday present. It was my friend’s post in his Facebook event page that finally got me to leave the country. “Snowboarding in Toronto a week from now? I can do that.” I invited myself and booked a flight.
The week passed by in a whirlwind of food and lobsters and talk about dicks (Thanks, Alex. Alright, it was all of us). The theme for every meal was, “Tonight, we FEAST!” and trust me, we did. I had also been primed for night life. Moving back to my parents’ home in the suburbs meant having a reliable broadband internet connection and random, eons-old stashes of booze. I became a night owl and, for the first time in my life, I had an active urge to consume alcohol. Finally, moving to Toronto meant being able to stay up later due to the timezone differences.
I noticed this the first couple of times I visited Toronto, but people seem genuinely more content. Whether it’s the fact that people my age can actually find jobs, or just a facet of Canadian lifestyle, everyone actually seems at peace with where they are, career wise. There’s less neurotic tension in Toronto than I encounter in Chicago, on average.
At first, I dismissed this as weakness. They seemed less ambitious, on the whole. Now, I see it as a strength. My sister recently made a realization that in order to take big risks, people have to be very secure in certain aspects of their lives. I feel like Torontonians must have a kind of security, whether social or financial, that we lack here in Chicago. Toronto recently overtook Chicago in population. I feel like there’s a vitality to the city that is missing from Chicago.
Oh, also, a preponderance of middle/upper class people of color. Wow, so many different kinds of people to look at in your average mall!
Putting distance between myself and Chicago also let me examine myself. While I understand that traveling in order to solve your problems is an American habit and hardly a universal psychological tendency, it worked wonders for me! I realized that I didn’t have any strong ties to Chicago, other than the fact that rent was free, and now that I’d been evicted, that tie was gone. If I was going to pay rent to stay in a major metropolitan area, it might as well be somewhere else. One thing that particularly attracts me to Toronto is my good friends who are dedicated to their respective arts. There’s nothing I want more than to be able to work side by side with friends, on our own projects or as a team…
Anyway, this post has rambled on for long enough. It’s been a promising start to 2014. Here’s to keeping up the momentum!