“Meet me in Toronto,” he said. “I’ll come up from Michigan with the cast, and we will meet at the hotel,” he said. “Sure,” I said with my voice full of apprehension. I have only been out of the United States twice in my life. A trip to Toronto would make the third time and never once have I ever traveled internationally by myself, and this little jaunt had pushed me way outside of my safe little box.
I was ok with being pushed out of my comfort zone and safe box because I needed a change in scenery. My creativity was dying in my apartment, and I needed something new, but I’m not sure international travel ALONE was the way to go. I, however, packed my suitcase, made sure I had my passport and called Uber and off to the airport I went, leaving my cozy little box behind.
After a missed connection in Atlanta, hours and hours at the Atlanta airport, I was finally in the hotel room, and I realized Canada is a strange place for an American. It feels familiar, but slightly “off.” I felt like I was in a bit of a twilight zone episode.
First things first, their flag, as you all should be aware, it’s just a big red maple leaf. It feels more like a sports flag than a flag for an entire country. I asked a Canadian what the story was with his flag, and he couldn’t really answer me and kind of laughed when I said, is it because you just have a lot of Maple trees? Then defensively he said, well, what’s up with your flag? When I could explain to him the meaning of the stars and stripes his response was just, “hmm.” So I looked it up, and it seems there is no real reason for the Maple leaf on their flag. All I could really find was the number of points of the actual Maple Leaf tested the best in wind tunnels at high winds to produce the least blurry vision of the flag.
The second thing I noticed right away was the fact that Canadians have seemed to embrace the man bun. However, they take it to a whole new level. First, it should be noted, that there was a distinct absence of a hipster population, so I was always taken back when I saw the man bun. Picture, if you will, the traditional Nashville man bun, but then add shaved sides with designs. Every time I would see one of these men, I was too amazed to snap a picture, it was a little like seeing a unicorn, and you just don’t know how to act.
One of the other things I found extremely hard to accept was the level of smoking. They smoke in every single doorway. However, as much as they smoke that is the level they take recycling. There recycling bins everywhere and I watched someone take a plastic bottle out of his bag before dumping it in the trash. There are also parks everywhere in downtown Toronto, you only need to go a few blocks to find a whole block turned into a mini-park, with paths, benches, and trees, it was an unusual calm in an otherwise loud and busy city. There are amazing old churches on what seemed like every street corner, and they are right on Lake Ontario, which as you’d imagine, makes it beautiful but really windy, perhaps that’s why they put their flag through the wind tunnel test.
My most favorite thing out of all of Toronto was Loblaws. It is not some fancy restaurant or fabulous museum; it’s a grocery store. It’s not just some typical grocery store; this grocery store makes Whole Foods look like a Piggly Wiggly. I spent hours in that store, just wandering around; I believe I spent a whole half hour just looking at the pastry and bread sections alone.
My trip to Toronto was almost two months ago and was a success in some ways but I had hoped to be able to write a ton when I was there and I did not. I just found myself in the back of an old theater once again watching Chipmunks run amuck.