When I tell people that I was born and raised in Toronto the response is more often than not the same. And it goes like this:
Head cocked to the side, “really?! From TO RON TO?”.
I often use the word “incredulous” to describe the reaction. From what I can gather this response is usually born out of the belief that no one is really from this city, everyone moves here. Though sadly I know it also rooted in the wonderment that I would choose to stay.
I do not think Toronto is the centre of Canada or the world. In fact, the thought has never crossed my mind. I’m sad and sorry every time I hear people talk about this notion. Quite simply, Toronto is my home. As such, I intend to love it.
There are many things that I love: I can eat dim sum for breakfast, a burger and fries for lunch and curry for supper; I can walk along the beach and yes, even swim in the water; I can take a subway, streetcar or bus; I can take a ferry to one of three islands; I can hear great music or see beautiful theatre pretty much whenever I’m able…
Much of what I love though is really not about the amenities. I live in a great neighbourhood where I know my neighbours. When I manage to lock myself out of the house (cough) I can call a number of families who have a spare key. I can walk through Parkdale and stop to talk with people I know on every block. While caring for the PNC plot in the community garden a fellow gardener/stranger offered to water our herbs and tomatoes whenever she noticed it might be getting a little dry. I have friends who live rough outside and friends who live in large old Toronto homes. I can wander the downtown core or have a picnic in a park.
Yesterday I walked out of a grocery store in the pouring rain with a large cardboard box of food. The bottom of the box went out. 12 cans of beans rolled every which way, a jar of balsamic vinegar smashed while a shard of its glass sliced open a bag of milk. What a mess. Suddenly eight people surrounded me to help. The store manager came out and replaced the damaged food- for free. An elderly gentleman walked up and said, “a lot of people sure came to your rescue!”. This is the stuff that naysayers say never happens in the city.
I know that Toronto is far from perfect. Not everyone is polite. It can get dirty. There is violence. Those are all very human conditions that exist everywhere, including in my own heart. As a result, I intend to remain here in order to seek the peace and prosperity of the city.
I’m staying put. Just call me a Torontonian.