Our theme for the month of March is “cities.”
I miss jogging in Vassar, where going a mile on any road led to golden cornfields where the only sound was my feet hitting pavement. But I don’t miss the loneliness and isolation I felt during many of my fourteen years there.
I miss the city-wide events of Grand Rapids and the feelings of possibility it held for me during those formative college years. But I don’t miss the insularity of the Calvin community that often felt like a protective bubble from the real world.
I miss the feeling of knowing Madison, rarely needing a map to get around after living in four different neighborhoods and learning the best coffee shop in each. But I’ll never miss the bitter cold of a Wisconsin winter.
We’re leaving Toronto soon. There’s a lot I’ll feel nostalgic about, a lot I’ll wish I did but never got around to, and a lot I’ll be happy to put behind me. Like all the places I’ve lived in and left, this city is full of incredible people I wish I didn’t have to say goodbye to.
Our destination is Windsor, the Canadian border city just across the river from Detroit. We’ll be much closer to my family members in Michigan, and much more able to afford a house there in the near future.
For the past year, whenever we’ve met someone familiar with Windsor, Josh and I have asked what they think of the city. Enthusiasm levels have varied, with responses ranging from “it’s nice!” to “it’s…nice?” General consensus has been that the city is all right, with benefits such as “near Detroit” and “has a casino” and cons such as “nothing to do but go to Detroit or the casino.”
Taking these reviews with a grain of salt, I’ve still been moved to consider what I even need from a city at this point in my life. Sure, I’ve loved living in places with a “cool” factor, enjoying Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize or Madison’s capitol square events. But even though Toronto is a giant city with innumerable things to do, most of my activities here have been playing board games with friends and enjoying the restaurants in my neighborhood. Maybe the pandemic made me more of a homebody. Maybe I’m just in a life stage where I have to admit to myself that I don’t do many “cool” things anymore. Give me some bike paths and dog parks, a Korean restaurant and a climbing gym, and I’ll find a way to be happy.
“Toronto is an hour from Toronto,” people here like to joke. I won’t miss the commutes. But I will miss the amazing restaurants with food from every region of the world.
I won’t miss the constant reports of crime downtown, but I will miss the endless ravine paths we’ve enjoyed on our bikes or with our dog.
There are plenty more things Toronto has and hasn’t meant to me. It’s been a place of covid lockdowns and a place of growth in my brand new marriage. A place of traffic jams and a place of deer and foxes in our backyard. Feeling like this huge city can never be mine, and feeling like I’m carving out my own place in it anyway.
We don’t know anyone in Windsor yet, but we’ll make it ours. And someday soon, when someone asks me what I think about the city, I’ll be able to tell them the things I love about it that will make it my home.
Laura graduated from Calvin in 2015 with a degree in art and writing. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband Josh and dog Rainy. She works as an IT support analyst and enjoys painting, rock climbing, and exploring the city.