I made it back safely from Toronto early yesterday morning.
Despite sleeping once Julia went to work I feel like I hit the ground running and am still trying to find my bearings being back home. Not in a bad way; the trip was cathartic to say the least and I’m in a much better place about Josh (and indirectly, Shannon) than when I left but I’m just feeling like I’m playing catchup with the real world. Catchup on sleep, on getting some time with my love and with work. It’ll all balance out in time and before I know it, Julia and I will be taking our first real couples adventure to Austin Texas for Halloween.
Until then: Toronto.
Toronto played a pretty major part in my life during the late 1990s all the way through the mid 2000s. With BME being based out of the city, I was up there a few times a year for event planning with Shannon, Modcons, Suscons, BMEfests, ModProms and just visiting I considered it a second home. As the years passed after Shannon sold BME I stopped traveling there and a city who’s streets I took for granted became somewhere I used to visit way back when. The decision to visit again was precipitated by making a last minute bus trip to the city to see a showing of Frank Pavich’s film JODOROWSKY’S DUNE at the Toronto International Film Festival. When I said I was going, I was mostly kidding; even though I love adventure the prospect of a 22hr round trip bus ride was daunting (Not as young as I used to be after all) and verging on irresponsible financially.
I’m not sure why I decided to go ahead and do it, but several hours after the trip was booked I was told about Josh’s passing. So soon after Shannon and I didn’t know what to think or feel. I rode down to pay my respects with Kathleen, Atom and Essie but was still left in a bit of a funk. Getting on a bus with no agenda other than seeing a movie and some old friends was the perfect way to clear my head. And it turned out to be much more than that. The city that was so familiar to me had changed; stores that I always stopped at were gone, replaced by chain monstrosities and thanks to my lack of data on the iPhone I discovered that there are 151 Starbucks locations in Toronto. I stopped at a fair number of them to be able to get on KIK or Facebook to chat with Julia, who’s presence I was sorely missing.
I spent more at Starbucks in three days than I have in my previous 39 years. Towards the end of my trip I finally stopped buying hot chocolates, chai teas or bottled waters; I became ‘that guy’ and just walked in, sat down, got online and chatted up my lady, made plans with friends and suckled the teat of tethered smart devices for a spell. Instead of asking me to leave the friendly kids who worked there often approached me with a cup of icewater and a smile, completing my theory that they may be Disney-made drones incapable of any disharmony.
The movie was AMAZING. Capital AH. Mazing. I have mixed feelings about the potential of a DUNE directed by Jodorowsky (admittedly my favorite filmmaker) but the documentary on it’s attempt earned a spot in my 2013 top five (more documentaries. Weird.) and absolutely justified the time I spent on a bus to see it. Synchronicity- my old friend- was with me, placing me behind the film’s director for the screening. After it ended I introduced myself and told him about my insane busride to catch his flick. He was elated- calling me out from the stage and asking me to stay after the screening to say hello. Which we did, shooting the breeze about my interactions with Jodo (coincidentally enough based on Shannon asking me to contact him about documenting ModCon) and our love of his films and life.
I’m not the me I was the last time I walked down Bathurst street. I’m not even sure I’m the me I was when I got on the bus headed North. I’m happy to be in flux, always learning better ways to deal with things- even when those things are the suicides of people I love- always learning about who I am and who I want to be. Through it all I kept feeling like something was missing and as I sucked down one more Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at the interchangeable Starbucks location I was sitting in at any given time I realized that what I was missing was home.
Home is Julia with her sly smile and heart full of unconditional love. Home is Mr. Bailey Papers, tail wagging and snaggletooth snaggling. Home is where I go when bad things happen, when people I thought were tougher than me ended up being twice as fragile and who did something I’ll never understand. I realized that I don’t have to have an adventure to have an adventure; that clearing my head can be attained with talking to Julia instead of holding it in and waiting for my next bus, plane or cab. As my bus rolled into Philadelphia I was glad that I made the trip but I was even happier to be home.
A very special thanks to Sarah, Badur, Phil, Evan, Frank and Jason for putting me up, and putting up with me. I’m very lucky to have the people in my life that I do and the next time I find myself in Toronto it will be just because; not as an escape, but to see the family that I have waiting up there.