This week marks the second anniversary of my move to Toronto the best decision I’ve made in my life to date. A mere seven-hundred thirty days ago, I woke up with the roosters due to my being the world’s biggest ball of nerves and jumped on the only one-way flight ever I’ve taken. And moved to Canada.
I’ve experienced so many amazing, magical things during my time here. I’ve seen so many fantastic places and most importantly, gotten to know a ton of seriously phenomenal people. It’s true what they say — Canadians are super cool to a fault, so of course, I fit right in.
If you’ve read any of my fantastically amazing blog to date, you know that I am an unabashed fan of both Toronto and Canada. In honour of my undying love for my adopted country, I decided to take a short trip down memory lane and proselytize on some of the awesome things I’ve seen, done, learned, and learned to love since moving to the Great White North.
Without further ado, a few things I’ve done…
- Traveled to as much of this gorgeous country as possible. So far, I’ve traveled to Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, Vancouver, Dorset in Ontario’s cottage country, Niagara Falls <swoon>, and Ontario’s wine country. Soooo much more to go. You know, like seven whole provinces and three territories.
- Have seen two of the five Great Lakes: Ontario and Erie.
- Have gone tobogganing on a real live, old-timey wooden toboggan. Unfortunately, the three year olds on the hill lapped me.
- Fell in love with CBC Radio 3, the best radio station on earth and who recently decided to continue playing 100% Canadian artists. Awesome.
- Started drinking scorched Tim Hortons coffee. It’s a cult, I tell you. But a very attentive, loving one.
- Walked and explored as much of Toronto as possible, but still only covered like 1/4 of the city. So. much. more. walking. required.
- Celebrated with the other 1,000,000 people at the world’s second largest Pride Week and Pride Parade.
- Witnessed a Canadian federal election that took two weeks, not two years.
- Met Jack Layton at the Taste of the Danforth (two birds, one stone).
- Met Julian Schnabel at the Toronto International Film Festival (one of my *most* favourite festivals in this city). Get here and go.
- Hung out with some cool Toronto Raptors (Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, and Jamario Moon). Because we’re tight like that.
- Learned to properly dress for, walk and drive in snow (well, I still don’t like to drive in it, but at least I’m not white knuckled and sobbing anymore. TTC, me love you long time!)
- Finally figured out the metric system
- Walked Queen Street West — my absolute favourite street — more times than I can recall. I love seeing mohawk-sporting street kids strolling next to stay-at-home-moms pushing their Gap-clad spawn in $9,241 strollers. Acceptance of diversity makes me swoon!
- Argued the benefits of non-Universal healthcare (believe me, it ain’t free, as evidenced by my VERY large Revenue Canada tax bill) .
- Watched a TON of Canadian sports: Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Vancovuer Canucks, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Marlies, Toronto FC, Pee Wee Hockey (yes, they start skating here at approximately 7.25 months of age).
- Joined the Junior League of Toronto.
- Became an iYellow Wine Club Ambassador. Ange and Pax are seriously awesome people. I (heart) them.
- Fell in love with Red Rose tea – mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
- Had roti for the first time.
- Had Ethiopian food for the first time.
- Had Sri Lankan food for the first time.
- Had Tunisian food for the first time.
- Have eaten at about 4,792 Toronto restaurants. Only 2,984,316,705 to go.
- Watched uncensored Canadian television. I mean, who cares if someone says “f*ck” on television? 99% of parents say it anyway!
- Bought Canadian art by Canadian artists.
- Have seen a ton of amazing Canadian art (Group of Seven, First Nations, and about 7,000 art galleries, festivals and crawls).
- Joined the Art Gallery of Ontario, with its gorgeously-designed building by Toronto native Frank Gehry.
- Enjoyed the quiet pride that is the hallmark of this country.
- Frozen my tongue to a pole in the dead of winter.
- Bushes and boulders. Deserts, glaciers, sea shores, tropical forests, rivers, mountains, lakes, plains. Yes Virginia, they really do have it all.
- Figured out how to decipher the funny-coloured Canadian money, including loonies and twonies.
- Experienced four *actual* seasons, rather than 11 months, 18 days of scorching hot summer and 12 days of sort-of-fall.
- The CBC. For thoughtful, professional explanation of world events without hype, opinion, or fluff. End of story.
- Have seen more processions down the Highway of Heroes than one should ever see in their lifetime. Simply. Amazing.
- Learned that in Canada, a Whippet is neither a Devo song nor a dog. It’s a cookie. And a damn good one.
- Learned that in Canada, rye not only means bread, but also whiskey.
- Learned that in Canada, hydro does not mean water, but electricity.
- Learned that in Canada, BBQ really means grill.
- Learned the hard way that the only iced tea they drink is from a can. Ew.
- Gotten forced off the Don Valley Parkway during rush hour and accosted by Toronto’s finest for having Texas license plates. True story.
- Built a snowman.
- Figured out that no one — NO ONE — is open on statutory holidays. When they say “holiday” in Canada, they mean it.
- Observed Earth Hour by attending way cool ”lights-free” parties two years in a row. A-hem.
- Paid $5.50 a gallon in gas. Actually, I continue to pay $5.50 a gallon in gas. [ed. note: 1 gallon = 4 litres. A-hem.]
- Conversely, pay only $2 — yes, TWO DOLLARS — per prescription. Thank you, dear company for whom I work.
- Worn shorts when it was only 10C/50F outside because after the -30C/-2F winter days, 10C/50F feels downright balmy.
- Lived through seven straight days of -30C weather. For my American friends, that’s cold. So cold, in fact, that my cracked, ashen flesh started showing signs of cellular degeneration and I practically sawed off my gangrene-plauged limbs in desperation by day three. I don’t recommend it.
- Went to a non-Catholic church for the first time in my life. Don’t tell my dad.
- Have seen a ton of Canadian dance (Winchester Theatre, aka The Winch, FTW!).
- Taken 15GB of photos, all lovingly posted on my Flickr page (where *your* photos should also be).
- Have eaten poutine. And did not at all like it. Of course, I had it at Swiss Chalet. Ew.
- Enjoyed amazing, help-you-at-any-cost customer service. No matter with whom you’re doing business.
- Blogged my arse off about what I’ve done here.
- Rolled up my first Tim Hortons rim.
- Participated in Pay It Backwards Day which could only happen in Toronto.
- What have I not done? Started to say “eh” and “zed”. It will *never* happen.
I had no idea what to expect when I moved here. Admittedly, like a lot of Americans, and much to Canadians’ chagrin even though they won’t admit it, I didn’t really know much about the place. Beyond all of the activities I’ve done, places I’ve been and things I’ve seen, the one thing I’ve learned is that the true spirit of Canada really does lie in its people. I’ve met so many outstanding people and made such amazing friends that, even when they make fun of my accent and stare at me like I’m from another planet, I still love them. Canadians *are* nice to a fault and they *will* do anything for you.
None of this is to say that I am not completely and utterly proud to be American. I am a Texas girl through and through…and always will be. I’ve just packed more into two years here than I did in my entire thirty-three years in Texas – I even have the lost tread on my runners to prove it – and have loved every single second of it. Here’s to two *more* years of mind-numbing, face-paralyzingly cold winters; beaver tails; far too much BlackBerry usage; hockey; Tim Hortons; Canadian politics; Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics; snow; curling; liveable summers; and big, giant red maple leafs.
Canada. It’s easy to spell. It means village. What’s not to like?