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Toronto crosswalk, July 2000.

Rules of transformation

Toronto crosswalk, July 2000.
Toronto crosswalk, July 2000.

A few days ago, I had to go to Toronto for a Finnish class. It was the first time I’d been to Toronto since I moved away in mid-January, and I was expecting it to feel disorienting. I felt a slight surge of alarm as I got to my old subway station and didn’t disembark, but aside from that, there was nothing major.

Afterwards, I was happy to cocoon in my parka on the bus back to Hamilton. It’s not anything special. It’s a stretch of highway I’ve been on hundreds of times in my life. But it was comfortable, it was quiet, the sun was low and the light was weak, and I had a cup of perfect Earl Grey tea I was more than willing to burn my tongue on.

When I moved to Calgary, I did so on a Greyhound bus. I spent 52 hours in total on it. It was such a narrow, contained little world for those few days. My Walkman died before I left Ontario. My life became little more than jockeying for first place in the washroom lineup at rest stops, eating packaged snacks, and watching out the window as my gigantic country slipped by. I wrote a lot. Fiction, but I also kept a record of everything I said in those 52 hours. It wasn’t much.

I’m probably making it sound dire, but it was actually nice. It was a big thing to do. I was 21. An Elvis impersonator serenaded us at the Dryden Greyhound station.

The trip from Toronto to Hamilton is nowhere near that long, but I found myself lulled back into that little egg of space, high up from the road, where I placed my gaze vaguely out the window and just let everything be important. And when we returned to Hamilton, for the first time I felt like it made sense for me to be there.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sarah

    This is golden, just lovely. I love bus rides, too; the longer the better.

    1. Samantha

      Thank you! :) I feel the same way about bus rides – and especially train rides!

  2. Kali

    It is always weird to go back to places that used to be part of the daily routine, isn’t it? I love watching out the window when on a ride too, there is something soothing about this moving landscape… Glad for you that you seem to get comfortable with the idea of living in Hamilton :)

    1. Samantha

      It’s extra soothing when the sun is setting – very atmospheric. I wonder if that had something to do with it on my last bus ride.

      And thank you! :)

  3. Teri

    This was really lovely. I’m glad you felt the way you did when you got off the bus too <3

    1. Samantha

      Thank you! <3 And it was such a nice surprise, that feeling.