vancouver island-based author and artist

A sky-high journal entry: YYZ to YVR

I often write notes/entries while on planes but I've never shared any of them before this one.  I didn't intend for it to be completed but as you'll see once you read, the entry seems to find a conclusion in itself.  This is pretty indicative of the way I write blogs: they all include (when they are complete) stories of my life; reflections of my feelings around my life events, past or present; and a description of the conditions I'm in while writing in that moment.  Hope you enjoy this!  I have other entries like this too, written while traveling or in transit, and I may share those as well in the future too :)


My black uni-ball vision needle - which carried me through most of my travel notebook and the first notebook I went through this year - is empty.

The last thing I wrote in my notebook were the words "CREATIVELY HOOD RICH".  RIP vision needle. You lived a good life, and those are some epic last words. Literally.

I'm currently 40,000 feet in the air on flight WS 707 to Vancouver. Given the time, we're probably somewhere close to Calgary right now, with no plan of stopping.

Is it ironic? Coincidental? Fitting? 

That while partaking in the other way I like to get high - flying - I may have just scratched the surface on my next jumbo Hershey bar of inspiration, the phenomenon of Creative Wealth. It's a beautiful sunny day up here, and it was shaping up to be one in Toronto when I left, too. I'm headed toward a residual tornado, but eh. I'll have put in 5h of my time on this plane and gotten back 3 by the time I land. That's a 60% refund! God Bless this big-ass country and it's five and a half time zones. No, not the one that NEEDS the blessings and fails pitifully at acquiring them via God Bless America adult colouring books at Barnes and Noble. They need a hell of a lot more than colouring books with the way their election is shaping up right now.

Anyway, back to sky-high revelations. (My vibe is not allowed to be trumped up here.) The irony continues and it appears that this revelation might be my new religion, and I'd come to me as I'm flying over my hometown. The bane of my existence. The city I am so happy to have left/am leaving, and I literally can't be higher above it until I'm dead, or if I were to go to space.  I really needed this revelation.  My first 2 trips to Toronto were deliciously energizing for me and filled with purpose, even if I didn't plan them that way.  This one was longer than I originally planned for it to be, and yet I found myself wandering around dragging my dead weight around the city and struggling to connect.  I felt distracted and irritated by the very people and things and I previously found grounding for me.  Much to the dismay of my friends, I'm very glad I didn't decide to move there this year.  My 3 trips seemed to suffice though; I'm mistaken for a local now and I've almost perfected my pronunciation of its name to two syllables: "Tron-no."  I find myself hesitating a bit after the first unwanted syllable.  Whenever I struggle though, I always remind myself of the black handbag in the window of that hipster clothing shop on Queen Street I always wanted to go into but had terrible service.  I managed to snap a photo of said handbag, which had five different variations of how to say "Toronto" like a local, spelled phonetically and stuck with silkscreen.  Simultaneously, I recall a conversation with JP about "the five degrees of Torontonian" and how I had already gotten to level 1 back in august, before I began consciously trying to omit the third syllable, instead of just the second T. 

Toronto is home even though I've never lived there.

That was the one line I'd been able to muster over the last two days regarding my experience there, since the blog I'd posted the week before on the morning I flew to New York.  Yet I find myself questioning what home is, what home is supposed to be.  I think I see Toronto as being a potential home.  It's a place I can make a home, a so-called "permanent" home base (nothing is permanent) during a subsequent period of my adult life.  I question, then, what qualifies a place to be habitable long-term for me, what constitutes a place worth calling home, now or ever.

My answers to this vary so greatly from six years ago when I was dating my first serious boyfriend.  He was the first person I'd ever encountered who would spark my interest in travel, albeit arbitrarily, and I was fascinated by all the places he'd lived and his moves beyond a single city.  His name was Dustin and he hates me now.  (I don't blame him, but maybe more on that another time, this is a happy post-also the hatred comment was just for context in case this ever gets published online. Hey, I warned you.) Dustin isn't even from a military family, but his dad was an engineer who managed to get jobs in different places, and his family followed suit to wherever those opportunities would take them.  If I remember correctly, he grew up in Ohio, moved to the suburbs of Atlanta as a kid, and then to Calgary - my lovely hometown - where we met during the summer of 2009.  Even though he and his family had spent a good number of years pretending to be Canadian, Dustin wasn't even sticking around there.  He was home for summer break, and had just finished his first year of electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo, 2 and a half hours sans traffic from Toronto. (Yes.) I came to Toronto for the first time that fall to visit him and hated it immediately.  I took a taxi from Pearson airport to the Toronto Eaton Centre (oh my god $$) and then back to the airport (Jesus Christ $$$) after walking around TEC in hysteric tears while on the phone with my brother-in-law.  I guess this prairie city girl, then 18 and ultra-naive, was in shock after coming face to face with Canada's New York.  My brother in-law coaxed me over the phone to head back to the airport where I could wait for Dustin to pick me up, since the airport never closes.  Dustin's car had broken down and so he wasn't at the airport to meet me initially, therefore spawning the panic that erupted quickly into tears.  In my frenzy I had cussed him out for it too and blamed him for not coming to get me as if he didn't want to (yup, hates me) and I probably never apologized for that.  Nevertheless, in about 4 hours he did show up at the airport to retrieve the hot and now broke mess that I was.  We journeyed back to Waterloo via the 401, slowly as it was even then, and made it in sometime before 2 am.  Then we had very deliberated, dramatic foreplay-lacking sex and fell asleep.  Oh, youth.

I tell you all this story now after making myself something of a semi-experienced solo traveler because everything DOES happen for a reason - if you survive enough bullshit and live deeply enough to reach a point of maturity where it's possible to draw wisdom from all your experiences.  I reflected on that evening cabbing to and from YYZ this past January, when I found myself booking a flight to Toronto that was somewhat in lieu of a flight to Auckland, New Zealand, which I would have booked out of obligation to my then-relationship.  I wondered why then, by comparison, I felt compelled from an emotional place to head east to Toronto, a city that years before was far too tough, too big, and too mean for the conservatively-raised Filipina Calgarian in me to handle.  At the time, I saw the comparison to be nothing more than ironic.  I figured, things change.  And people change too, but since dating Dustin right out of high school with no idea who I was or any real grasp on what was going on in my life at all, I had matured, and a natural progression had simply taken place.  In that time, I'd solidified in my impressions of myself and how I saw the world, and so, I rested with the conclusion that there was nothing more for me to infer about my choice of a trip.  Peculiar, still: I had enough money to go anywhere else, and an unlimited amount of time.  I was taking a vacation in the dead of winter, and I easily could have gone somewhere warmer, but instead I fled to the Canadian Shield.  Bad weather aside (they actually underwent an El Niño last winter, so I got about two days of brutal Ontario cold, and then I wore my spring jacket), what I did get out of that first trip was everything I didn't know I needed.  When I left, I did so with a renewed sense of belonging (I had reunited with my university friends), I felt energized, empowered, and most importantly, I left with the unshaking conviction that the things I would do and movements my ideas would inspire would truly matter and change the world.