(ABOVE is a picture of a beautiful textile I feel deeply connected to made by a person named Sophie Henriette Gertrude Taeuber-Arp in the year 1918. I found out it existed because of the Women's Art Twitter which I am obsessed with. It is the lock screen wallpaper on my phone & sums up my general May 2k16 life vibe better than any song or sentence.)
I’m leaving London, the city where I live, work, am, and go to sleep every night, among other things. This city is not my home but it is home to a life that I know very well. Soon, though- in July- I’m going to go back to my real home, in Canada: to a city where I’ve already lived so much. A city that is so much a part of me that even when I’m not living there I’m still living there. Toronto. The city I was born in. A city where I used to and now again will walk past the hospital I was born in every day and absently think “I was born there” and then keep walking and not think about it anymore.
I know the map of my Toronto-life the the same way I know the basslines of all my favourite Beatles songs or how to write my name perfectly in my own beautiful penmanship. Toronto will feel different this time I know it but it will also feel the same. Weirdly, despite my generally being a person preoccupied with acquiring new things— friends, jobs, places, stories, men— it’s the same-ness of Toronto I want back the most. I do very little dreaming about what’s going to feel different.
Maybe because I know exactly how it’s going to feel different. I’m going to be cockier and care less and say “lads” a lot and not have to wonder what it’s going to feel like when I move away to London.
The things about Toronto I want back most are:
-the feeling of walking into the Queen & Bellwoods 7-11 on a summer afternoon, August at its disgustingly hottest, when I’m so happy because I’m vain and I know I’m getting tan. The feel of the air-con which I call air-con after living in London for two years but used to call “AC.” I want to buy myself a Big Gulp of Diet Coke and maybe one of those cherry crullers I used to be so obsessed with and feel my teeth crack into the icing
-to stand on the corner of Bloor Street and Palmerston Blvd very early in the morning and watch the sun rise over Honest Ed’s. Pop into the organic food store I have never known the name of despite my having patronized it over a thousand times I'm sure and buy myself an organic snack like maybe one of those honeyed granola bars with chocolate on top or a vegan peppermint Nanaimo bar or some dried pineapple rings which I always crave but then when I eat them they’re so sugary they literally make me feel sick.
-to be able to buy family-size jars of peanut butter which they don’t sell in England because people in England don’t care about peanut butter as much we do so I have to buy myself new peanut butter like every three days which is inconvenient
I want and need these things. I want and need my friends. I want to go back to them and bury my head in their laps but I don’t want to go back to them and am not very touchy-feely in person.
I wish I could leave here and stay here. I wish I could do a thing and not do a thing. I wish I could both drunk-text and not drunk-text. I wish I could live two lives at once.
I know what I will miss most about this place. I know that sometimes when I live back home I’ll miss those things so hard I’ll need to bend into myself in the middle of walking down some ugly street while feeling offended by the Brutalist architecture that is unromantic to me and I might miss London so hard I might cry. Things I take for granted today will seem perfect in my memory and I will long for them so hard I might cry. I will live with my father for a period of time and then I will find a new flat but I won’t be able to call it a flat because if I say flat in Toronto I know people will think I’m being irritating and braggy about the fact that I lived in London once which I did. I do.
I do, I do right now, I have it today and there is no amount of appreciating it that I can hold onto hard enough to satisfy her, future-me, the person I will have to be one day, in February probably, when the air is ripping up my knuckles and there is no amount of loving my best friends that will stop me from resenting the fact that I am wearing Sorel instead of Beatle boots. I imagine that sometimes I will cry very hard, and there’ll be nothing to stop me from crying but flying on an airplane to Los Angeles and so I will. I’ll be able to do that then, because I won’t live in London, and I’ll have money to spend on things like plane tickets. I’ll buy beautiful clothes and take pictures of myself wearing them and I’ll put them on the Internet and all my friends in London will like them and then I’ll fly to Los Angeles and all my friends in Los Angeles will see my clothes too. My friends in London will think, “That is her; that is her life now,” and they will be right. It will be my life, and I will be living it. I won’t care what my friends in LA think because I’ll be there with them and the only things that matter to me are those that are faraway.
Living a life that I’m leaving feels like I’m floating. I feel like I am hovering two feet above the ground and like I can’t grasp onto things, physical objects, like I’m a ghost, and if I try to carry them they’ll fall through my hands because my hands are made of air. I've always been absent-minded but this is next-lev. I buy things at shops and pay for them and then forget them at the shop and don’t remember that I forgot them until the next time I go to the shop and the shop employee tells me. I am walking down the street and a friend is walking toward me but I don’t know who she is. She is waving me down and I look at her face and I don’t recognize her. My brain has to work so hard to make her face into her face. I turn off my headphones and say hello. My feet are asleep. My hair is turning grey. My body is a solar system and the bruises are galaxies. My flatmates want to kill me because I always leave the hob on. At work I break several glasses per day. I smash into things and burn myself. I am having an allergic reaction to the professional-grade oven cleaner I have to use to clean the oven and it’s making my arms look like I just climbed a tree. I’m enjoying it.
I care about everything and I don't care about anything. I don’t know how to approach any of my current relationships. I want to give these people all of myself, my fullest full self, as a present, because soon I’m going to be gone and they’re not going to have me anymore, and I feel sorry for them, for their future selves, who have to lose me. I’m Laura, I think, I’m a daydream. I want to shake these poor people by their bony or whatever shoulders and ask them if they realize, really realize: do you understand? That I’m going to be gone?
I hate them for not having nervous breakdowns about it every minute. I want to ignore them and not know them because what’s the fucking point anyway. Sometimes I see cute boys and the box gets ticked off inside of me and I can’t help myself, I want to win them over and kiss them because I am single and a playa and that’s just how I do but I don’t. Sometimes I worry that if I don’t fuck as many British guys as possible I’ll regret it in the future when I don’t have as many options of fucking guys with English accents which is a fair worry because I probably will regret it. But whatever! I guess if I regret it so hard that it becomes debilitating for me I can just buy myself a plane ticket to England to come fuck some guys with accents which I won’t do because that’s ridiculous and I would never do that.
What’s the point? What’s the point of Hoovering the carpet or of trying to cook myself a meal. What’s the point of going back to see some London thing I’ve already seen, like if I don’t see it a second time I never will have seen it; people always ask me if I have a London “bucket list” of all the things I want to do before I leave and I tell them I don’t because I don’t. There are a couple restaurants I never ate at that I might’ve liked to eat at but I can’t now, because I don’t have any money. When I used to have money, I never had time.
My life is chill. I feel like I'm a meme about not giving a fuck. A couple weeks ago I dog-sat a dog and I drink lots of wine but not too much and I write more than I used to. I see people sometimes but not all the time. I walk to and from work and when I get home I work out even though it’s late and I’m tired. The only aspect of my my life I take even remotely seriously is my abs, second place my triceps. One afternoon I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor and cut all the sleeves and collars off all my old t-shirts and then cut up a bunch of hair-ties and tied the shoulders of my t-shirts up with the hair-ties so that the silhouettes are more like a toga’s. I sleep on an air-bed because what’s the point of buying an actual bed when you know you’re going to leave here in 2 months and when I dog-sat the dog I thought “Oh, I’m going to get to sleep in a real bed for 5 days, what a treat that’s going to be,” and then I fell asleep in the bed and didn’t even notice a difference. When I first started making money, when I was twenty-seven, back in Toronto, the first big treat I spent my money on was a nice new bed for myself. “I’m an insomniac and I deserve a nice bed to help me sleep better,” I thought, and then the first week I slept on that bed it destroyed the fuck out of my lower back and I can think of so many nights I lay awake inside of it. I lay awake until the sun rose freaking out about whether or not the dude I would eventually move to London with liked me which he obviously did. A few years later I broke up with him and on the last night we ever lived together he said a thing about my “weight control issues” that was the meanest thing a person’s ever said to me. Now we don’t talk anymore. I don’t mind.
On my air-bed I sleep through the night, just fine, every night. Maybe I don’t have insomnia because I don’t feel invested in living this life that I’m leaving, so there’s not a whole lot for me to lie awake freaking out about. It’s an interesting life lesson, that the first time in my life I’ve been able to sleep properly was the time I slept on the most inadequate bed I’ve ever had, in an uncharismatic beige-carpeted bedroom with almost no furniture: just a clothes-rack, bookshelf, a white raffia thing, a Clos de Marquis crate, and the bin from my old kitchen which is red. I store my socks and underwear in an eco-friendly tote underneath the clothes-rack and my jeans and t-shirts are folded up in stacks on the bookshelf’s bottom shelf. It is not an appropriate environment for a thirty-year-old woman to live in. I love it anyway.
Here is the list in my head of all the people I will miss here. Here is the list in my head of all the places I will miss here. Here are the names of all the streets. I will miss the accessibility of a decent wedge sandwich and those pre-made salad things with grains in them that they sell at Marks & Spencer, the one with the nuts in it, I think the word “Superfood” is in the title. In the future I will look at pictures of some people that I know here and some other people that I know here hanging out in a context that I wouldn’t have bothered to show up for when I lived here and I will hate them for getting to live it when I can’t. I will be afraid that I have blown it, it, something, I don’t know. I will eat a Tim Horton’s bagel with herb & garlic cream cheese and Matt King & I will buy a xylophone and write our concept album. I will do all the things I used to be too bored or shy to do like go to so-and-so’s DJ night or somebody else’s art opening. I will never tell anyone the story of what happened with that dude. A month ago I thought, “Oh, I’m so sad about it today but at least in the future it will become a hilarious story that in the future I can laugh about and tell my girlfriends,” but honestly there is no shortage of hilarious anecdotes from my brilliant life that I can tell in its place. A sad and off-brand tale about how an overly-trusting and romantic LJ fell briefly though vibrantly in love with a man who ended up treating her poorly? Lame. I would rather tell the story of the time my flatmates and I all dressed up in fitness gear and walked to the park drinking Lucozade and Livia told Charlotte her Fila bucket hat made her look “busy.” I will tell people stories about Spain and maybe take Spanish lessons and maybe move to Spain. I will hope that some of my friends from London might come to visit me but they probably won’t because flights from London to Toronto are expensive and Toronto is honestly not that intriguing of a city. Maybe I will meet up with some of them in New York.
I will visit New York in October. My mother and I will fly to New York. I will see Lexy and eat a raspberry cookie and remember that I don’t like it there. A year after that I will go to Texas because my new thing is wanting to check out Texas. I don’t know what my job’s going to be. I won’t buy a dog.
I won’t cook dinner with my boyfriend because I won’t have a boyfriend and I don’t like cooking dinner. I’ll eat alone at the sushi place on Bloor Street I like best out of all the sushi places on Bloor Street and drink white wine and suck edamame salt off my fingertips. I’ll Whatsapp with my London friends and send them pictures of all my Toronto things and then they’ll say things and then I’ll say a different thing back. Tempura sweet potato grease stain fingerprint on my phone screen. This is me in the future, and this is me today.
Some of us will talk less as time passes and some of us, I think, will benefit from the distance. I’ll come back to London for a visit one day, but not too soon. I need to be in North America for awhile. I need to be around people who are loud and aren’t very clever. I need people to not “take the piss” out of me. I need to not be from somewhere else, to not have to tell people where I’m from, or explain why I came here, or listen to them impersonate what they think my accent is like. I’ll miss pubs but on a Thursday I’ll stay out until 3 in the morning and remember that bars are good too. I’ll miss how early in the day people in England start drinking. I’ll move back to Toronto and I’ll want to start drinking earlier than everyone else but I guess I always wanted that anyway.