This month marks the 15th anniversary of my moving to Toronto.
I was living in B-F, Ontario, and I hated it. I had spent a couple of months living in the Annex neighbourhood the year before, and it felt like 'home'. That was a feeling I'd never experienced before, and knew it would keep me from committing suicide in the small town I was trapped in. I would rather have died quickly than spend another year in that hellhole.
Thus, early February 1996, I spent 3 days sleeping on my city friend's sofa while looking for an apartment. I acquired a room in a clean-looking rooming house on Bathurst St, and headed back to town to close out life there. I wrote my last high-school exam to obtain my Grade 12 diploma, had one last dental visit booked to pull my wisdom teeth, and my bags were packed. The day after my teeth were removed, I was in my friend's van headed to a new life in the city. I may have been loaded up on T3's, but the high was due to the excitement of escaping the small town.
Moving to Toronto, I had no job and $3000 in my pocket. Losing $800 of that to rent and deposit, and another $1000 to bartending school, gave me a very short window to find work and catch up. After my second day of school, a week of living in the city, I was walking home and passed a psychotic-looking drunk. Avoiding eye contact, I was surprised when he called my name. It was an old friend from school! I had made another contact in the city! We went for a coffee, and renewed a friendship that would last for quite a few years before Toronto ruined him.
And so went the struggle up to the sunshine. It took a couple of months to find a job, learning to live on $7/week for food, starving in a rat-infested dump (rooming house wasn't as nice as appeared), and one month on welfare (nightmare).
I ended up getting a job working the midnight shift at a gas station. This gave me a steady, if small, paycheque. Then I was able to upgrade to a clean bachelor apartment. Then I switched to a management position at a busier gas station. A little more money, and a better bachelor apartment.
Then, another old friend moved to Toronto and found a job in the mailroom at a large law firm. He got me a position there too. At this time, I was making friends quickly and enjoying city life. With basic art skills and connections, I got a paid apprentice position at a tattoo studio. I quit when the owner and I argued about the 'paid' aspect, but it was due to his failing, crack-addled memory. Then I joined a band and recorded a CD. I was fired from that group after a few months. I joined a new one, made 3 discs with them, played a lot, and quit a few years later.
I made a lot of good friends, lovers, and had many, many, many crazy experiences.
I temped through a few random jobs before getting an entry-level job on Bay St. I got a NICE apartment, and shortly after that I met my first wife. I moved to the 'burbs for a couple of years. I hated it, and disliked her. I left and came HOME. I got an even nicer home, and started going to university at night.
Then I met OLK, she moved in, we got engaged, and married.
Life is great. It's strange to remember how I felt 15 years ago. I was depressed, hated myself and my surroundings. I felt that I had no future, and disliked my past. I didn't want to BE. Now, I'm not depressed. I love my surroundings. Toronto is still 'home'.
I wonder where I'll be in another 15 years?