City Mouse

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I’m ambivalent about moving to Toronto, and I need to make up my mind soon.

My preference, as I’ve said for the past few months, is to move back to Hamilton and/or Burlington to be with my oldest and closest friends.  At least, I think that’s still my preference.  Beforehand, the idea was that I’d be finding a place somewhere in Toronto, but a small event this past July changed that.

I was doing wardrobe for my Era Commercial at a studio just off of King and Spadina, and I had some time to spare afterwards.  My family were all away on a trip, so with no one expecting me home and with the warm afternoon air casting a vibrant colour over the city, I decided to stick around for a little while.

I walked up towards Yonge Street on King, past Roy Thompson and the bustling pedestrian traffic approaching the Princess of Wales Theatre.  I found a place to sit to enjoy a street hot dog and people watch.  And I was suddenly gripped with this sheer feeling of loneliness, not the kind that you feel when you’re down on your energy or feeling bad, but just this feeling of….disconnection.  I was in the middle of the biggest city in Canada, surrounded by millions, and I felt alone.

Friends who have lived in the city say they’ve experienced the same thing, and despite its own unique qualities, Toronto is a big North American city, and in big North American cities, it’s much harder for people to connect with each other.  That’s why so many move to the city in group of friends they already know.  Actors have a special “in” because there are special accommodations that are available to them, which makes it a bit easier, given the very isolated nature of our work.  Writers, I’m sure, wouldn’t fare as well, unless I were to join a colony or something.  Fortunately I’m both, but you get the idea: the paradoxical loneliness in metropolises won’t quite go away.

So I decided to set a goal for 2013 to move back to a smaller, but no less unique and special city down the road – Hamilton – because of the existing group of people I know there.  Even if I were to live completely alone in a flat or a basement suite, the idea that the people I love the most are twenty minutes away from me at any moment comforts me.  That still applies.

ImageAnd then I went to Scotiabank Nuit Blanche the other week, and suddenly Toronto has a new appeal.

Things like that happen in Hamilton, true, (Art Crawl) but on a much smaller scale, and without the sense of grandeur.  You want a sense of a city?  Walk its streets one night, from sunset to dawn, and see what you find.  Find a vantage point and meditate with its skyscraper skyline filling your line of sight.  Walk past millionaires and the homeless alike and marvel at the incongruity of two completely different stories sharing the same space for a few seconds.  Turn a corner and find something new you never would have imagined on your own.  It wasn’t necessarily Nuit Blanche itself that did it for me, but just my being there, spending the whole night walking dark streets.

Back in 2005, I was all about getting a blue condo.  You know, those glassy ones that look all futuristic and stuff.  Today, driving back into Toronto for an audition, I passed by some of the newer ones, and those old twentysomething fantasies of a hip urban lifestyle came back for those few minutes I was stopped at the red, fantasies that I’d abandoned when I started to question the work I would have to do to get them.  The key difference between then and now is that I’m now certain that I’m going to have the level of wealth I need to live like that doing what I love and loving what I do.  I wasn’t so sure before.

And now, despite all the bits of common sense that tell me to stick close to my other family, that I wouldn’t be able to escape that same lonely feeling were it to return while living there, I’m thinking about Toronto again.  Much of my work in both writing and acting takes me there, and as I continue to train as a performance coach, I’m sure I will be spending even more time what has been called the “centre of the universe” by its very own dwellers. I’m making new friends as I go who live in Toronto, and as ambiverted as I can be sometimes, there’s no danger of me not creating new relationships here given the number of things I’m involved in, and will be doing over the next six months.

As hackneyed as it sounds, Toronto’s calling me again.  And I’m just about ready to pick up that receiver and answer.

I’ve never felt more like a city mouse than I do now.  The suburbs are a nightmare of conformity and lameness, and while I love the country and recognize its importance, I’m not ready for my life to be quiet just yet.  I’m single, I’m young, and I’m ambitious as hell.

The city is where I need to be.  The big question is, which city?

As I start manifesting my 2013 goals, I’ll need to decide, and very very quickly.

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