Last Thursday, J told me that we were leaving town for the weekend, that she’d been planning a getaway for weeks, and that I wouldn’t know where we were going until we were on our way. Within a few hours of knowing this, I wanted to leave. Though she hadn’t planned for us to set out until early the next morning, I begged to go right away. I was struck by the thrill of spontaneity, and whatever my surprise weekend was going to look like, I wanted it to start immediately.
And she agreed! She picked up our rental car within an hour of that decision, and we threw our bags together. She had arranged for A to watch our cats and had burned books on cd for the trip, and, as we put the last of our stuff in the trunk of the car, she handed me a book she’d put together by hand. The cover announced that we were taking a “Magical Mystery Tour.” There were no words on the first page, just a sleeve with a cd, which I was to play to get clues about our destination. I knew where we were going within ten seconds of the first song, which was my favorite EVER Joni Mitchell song (“A Case of You”). CANADA! (I knew this because of a line in that song: “I drew a map of Canada, oh Canada, with your face sketched on it twice.” But I didn’t have to hear that line to know. Just the first few notes of the song. The rest of the mix she had made was all songs by Canadians and/or about Canada. It was incredible.
The next page of the book had a photo and details about our Toronto hotel, which was one block away from Church Street, which (because Queer As Folk was filmed there) is known to lots of us as Liberty Avenue. There’s plenty to critique about that show, but it was pivotal in my coming out experience, and I love its characters (Brian, Justin, Emmett, Ted, Debbie, Ben!) with my whole entire heart. My wife knows this, and she found us an affordable room just blocks away from Woody’s (a bar that QAF filmed in all the time). I cried when I stood on the steps. I cried just knowing I would get to. It sounds stupid, but that show changed my life. I think it changed a lot of lives.
The next two pages were full of information about local/ethical/vegetarian restaurants in Toronto, and the two pages after that were full of things we might like to do. We drove until one in the morning, and stopped in London, Ontario. In the few hours we spent on Canadian soil that first night, I fell hard in love. No billboards on the highway. Stunning countryside. Recycling everywhere (in hotel rooms, at gas stations, on city streets). Super nice people. Nation-wide civil liberties. Even before we made it to Toronto, I was ready to immigrate.
And our time was somehow even better than I could have imagined. We got there by lunchtime Friday, and we only stayed for forty-eight hours, but every moment was a delight. It was restorative in ways I didn’t realize I needed. My wife and I both adore cities, and this one offered all wonderful things: accessible subways and trams, hours of walking, people watching, people speaking dozens of languages with dozens of accents, incredible food, beautiful Lake Ontario, a sensational skyline, tons of queers, all the familiar sights from Queer As Folk, street vendors, street artists, a gorgeous urban university campus. Total happiness for a girl like me.
And my wife pulled all of this off! A secret international holiday! If you see her around, be sure to give her major props. I’ll never forget how much this trip meant to me.
This is the Toronto skyline from the ferry we took across Lake Ontario to Centre Island (which is the largest car-free green space in North America):
And here’s my gorgeous wife and our sixteen.weeks.along Rabbit on the ferry:
Me outside of Woody’s. Were it not for the sunglasses, you’d see tears of overwhelming joy:
J looking like the badass she is, standing on the wave pier on Queen’s Quay:
Me at Fresh enjoying the last bites of the best sandwich in Canada. In a city full of delicious food, I had it twice. That’s how good:
One of my favorite photos of J ever. Sitting on a tram on Spedina Avenue. Oh, to sell our car and move to a city where we could travel exclusively on public transit. A total family dream:
A tram stop on a rainy Sunday morning. Toronto in the rain. I can’t even describe it:
Us in a light Toronto fog:
So does anyone have any pull in a Canadian college or university? Cause this trip felt like going home.