This is very tongue in cheek, but based in the reality of determined dread.
I haven’t ridden a public coach bus since my son was an infant. Previous to that, I’d ridden a coach twice. My son is 22.
Other than taking Owen Sound City transit once, to go to an event that I taxied home from, I don’t ride city transit. I have to use my car for work, and if I don’t need my car, I can walk to the office faster than the transit can get me there.
In 2004-5 I dated a guy who was a law student at U of T and when I visited him, we did the TTC around town. But I had no idea where I was going, Ian dolled out the token seconds before we needed it.
I think he liked my naivety, found it charming. The one time I started a multi-person conversation on the subway, he refused to participate. But being a facilitator, I found it fascinating. Ian just shook his head, and lectured me later on “talking to people on the subway”. I told him I’d talk to whomever I wanted.
Jon, a friend of mine who grew up in Toronto, laughs when I tell him I’m heading to the city for a few days. He assures me I can’t blend in; I smile too much, make eye contact and talk to strangers.
So when Jon proposed I bus to Toronto to meet up with him for the last a couple of days, of his vacation, I panicked.
But I made a plan. My son also now lives in Toronto and I wanted to spend Thursday with him and Jon would pick me up Friday morning and we’d go off on our adventure.
But that would mean getting on a bus here in Owen Sound spending 4 hours, or more, it is winter, and then navigating the subway, with a change in direction to get to The Beaches, and then onto a bus to get to my son’s place.
That’s an awful lot of transit for me.
The TTC website is pretty helpful, but it’s not as interactive as I’d like. I think I’m looking for something between a GPS and personal escort.
My son offered to meet me at the Greyhound station, but by now, the laughter is ringing hollow, and I need to do this, on my own.
I realized that I don’t go out and about in Toronto, when I’m there for work, because I don’t know how to get around. I need to learn. Avoidance is boring.
So I’m about to do this on my own.
You may laugh, and think this is the most self indulgent whine you’ve read in a while, but you come up here and I’ll plunk you on the Bruce Trail and see how you manage, what with the bears and rattlesnakes.
Jon tells me part of my unease, is that I’m a “nobody” in Toronto, while up here I believe my own publicity. Just because I can walk through the mall (there is only one) and Santa calls to me by my name, doesn’t mean I’m a prima donna. Just because people approach me in stores to thank more for my latest printed rant doesn’t mean I don’t like going outside my comfort zone. Just because my last boyfriend would take me into his small town grocery store just to see how many people would stop and talk to me, doesn’t mean I think I’m important.
Just because the same boyfriend was thrilled to go to Canada’s Wonderland – because no one will know you there, and on one trip we bumped into a friend of my daughters and the second time my chiropractor…..
Just because Jon got pulled over 10 minutes going out on our first dinner together only to have the officer lean in, greet me by name, and let him off with a warning, doesn’t mean I can’t cope in a city of strangers.
So Toronto be warned. A perky, determined rural activist is descending upon the city Thursday because it’s better to face your fears, than to surround yourself with known comfort.