Toronto Travel Blog

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Do you really want to know?

            ...cuz this city's not my home...


Today. To me. The sky above Toronto is a big city filter, not a canopy. Stars & yellow sun left to a hazy reason.  One window looks out to the CN tower, another: a gray alley. 


Hollow shadows cruising the streets as if they were driving muscle cars.


& if I tried, I'm sure I could sink my right hand thru the outer shell of everyone I know. 


Stroll the Bloor street winters.

Pedestrians under a scafold, Toronto
  In Ontario, the snow only falls in a glance refusal to meet your eye.  Even when the door to the Future Bakery never closes, its graffiti comes up zeno-garble. 


"Who's future?" I want to shout.  Too Canadian to indulge the impulse.


Was Saskatchewan any better?  Any different?  Or Victoria? Or London? Or the Loire?  How many places don black jeans, hair slick, painted tattoos, arms akimbo, a fashionably slim striding?


& how many places resist the curious in exchange for perfect open houses waiting to be bought?




Constraints can be hard concepts to explain, each of us having her own Stephen King reels spinning yarns of no-escape.

Bloor street fuit market, Toronto


They shut the door to my hospital room one day, for instance.


Did I mention I'm a claustrophobe?


Phase back five years: I'd spent two weeks in that room by the time they shut the door. Was attached to the ward bed with a system of weights & pulleys.  I guess, while I was on regular four hour doses of morphine, it didn't bother me so much, but once I had the time and more of a mind to think about it, I decided I wasn't much good at the closed-in-and-sit-tight-for-recuperation shtick. A crushed pelvis, a number of dislocated joints, minor head and jaw injuries, and a compound fracture to the left arm, lotsa pretty purple bruises laced with cardamom and saffron, a couple of blood transfusions. Surgery, tubes thru the nose, pins through the knee and sticking out of my hip connecting to a factory of gears and pulleys, and a fever rash that rises like a connect-the-dots pattern across my cheeks and forehead.


Hell, I wasn't even driving, and I still had seven months to go on this hospital sentence. With only the shitty-green of the hospital walls to stare at, bed pans to look forward to.

Toronto casual
.. oh, and an IV-stand for company that loomed like a Burroughs cockroach.


So, if I started screaming for the nurse when they shut the door


...if, at that moment, I saw the trap, and I was sure the cockroach-IV-stand had mutated. That it had become a more-than-I-bargained-for Saskatchewan bred mosquito, sucking the colour from my blood and digesting it in a SALINE  0.5% stomach


...& if they came running, all those white clad attendants, wondering what the hell I was going on about, screaming as if my bed were on fire


...& if things began to get really sticky then


...if I saw green stars after they shot the morphine up into the mosquito bag;  & a universe where Sherlock Holmes played fiddle as Rome burned; if Snow White's wicked step mother eloped with the handsome prince (who had always admired women with brains); & if then I began to wonder whether mosquitoes sucked brain


... well, at least I wasn't foaming at the mouth, my head wasn't spinning, and I wasn't being hacked to bits by one of those absurd vibrating penis-substitute-from-hell chain saws.


Can I blame it on the talwin that was supposed to take the edge off the morphine witdrawl?


            my [here] a constant whereevering;

            the before-I-left mapping my every move


Sometimes I think that I must have been a cat in a past life.  Not because I've made it thru eight times when I shoulda died, but cuz I keep landing on my feet. Despite the predictions. The doctors said Iwouldn't walk again without crutches, and even that diagnosis came some three months after "No, we don't know if you will walk again and can't be sure you will be able to have children".


Yet, here I was, four years later: off and running, determined to wander freely



            now if only i could decide where to go




Spent two hours, the morning after "re-turning" to Saskatoon, caught up in the hypnotic spell of my younger brother's spinning globe. Probably saw someone on television do something similar once.  Both the globe and my obsession with it--so much facsimile. 


            i want au-then-tic-ity


Whatever that means.  Canada, Australia, Russia, India.  Round and round.  I take lazy note of their passage and their return, each country & state a surreal abstract.  Foggy, like the wash of watercolours. 


            no straight lines


& making choices is the hardest thing in the world for me. “Hard," like the word "Purpose." Reminiscent of the globe's spinning continents.  Floating on the "below-the-surface."  Doubly unstable.  Always shifting.   Even when you can't see it.


            no tabula rasa, i.

            daughter, sister.  latent  lover.

            student, teacher. minder mentor,

            manifest manipulator.



My brother's globe: a still spinning world. A plaster & paint sphere.  Full of freedom, yes. Fame and fortune fantasies, yes.

           spinning spinning. 

Until: flimsy (hesitant as a Polaroid) the ink labels of the towns sift into features. & the features become faces. There's Michael in one place, Johnny in another, and Jeff in another. Not just one, but three lovers to mock my independent defiance.




& then there's my childhood, of course, and my ambition. Summer camps.  Universities.  Hospitals.  Cars and combines. There's all my books in my friend Trisha's basement.  Bicycles. Pets.  My first oratory medal. My father's funeral.  Aunt Helen's Christmas turkeys.  A fourth set of stitches. Chewed erasers. Curling fiascoes. Stolen kisses.  & that first bottle of cherry whiskey.


Focus always comes with the North American glimpse. A two dimensional representation. Without cause and effect. No before-and-after itinerary or comparison.


Just a pastiche of moments


            the familiar

            either suffocating

            or blinding

            with its already written stories


So I'm off


            to somewhere...


"Come on Gayle, where're you going?"  My brother's skeptical I'll get off the ground.


"Is there really nothing new under the sun then, Doug?"


...freedom & originality :  over-rated, stupid words


"Naturally,"  I'm telling my mother, as we sit together in the dingy living room of her Saskatoon apartment pulling at the socially unacceptable ends of her Player's filterless cigarettes, "I'm out to escape all this bullshit we call freedom.  I want to breathe."


            blank look


(sheepish grin)


Did I mention I how young I was, at the time?

Or that I still feel young and stupid, even now.

Once I finally got off the ground, the brittle veneer of my cynicism shattered soon enough. Travel is kaleidoscopic, and its mirror shards will eventually (inevitably) reflect more than oneself.

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Pedestrians under a scafold, Toron…
Pedestrians under a scafold, Toro…
Bloor street fuit market, Toronto
Bloor street fuit market, Toronto
Toronto casual
Toronto casual
photo by: yasuyo