Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ontario Town

My mom visited me for a whole week right at the end of May, and that week was full of an amazing number of activities. We went to the movies, trekked all over the city, and shopped like pros. We drank ice wine and very good coffee. We went out for breakfast and sushi. We even attended B.K.'s Knee Surgery/Jordan's in town party, and my mom was a very good sport.

My mom even gave me an unexpected present: a one-way first-class ticket back to Windsor, so I could ride home on the train with her (because Margaret Walschots only travels first class =)) and spend the weekend visiting my family. I hadn't been home since Easter, and happily took her up on her offer. I napped on the train, ate some surprisingly delicious salmon, had my rye-and-coke refilled at will, and looked forward to a quiet weekend around my family.

First of all, I did have a really nice time. I did some quality visiting, got to indulge in my favourite ice-cream at my favourite ice-cream parlour (hurrah for the Waterfront!), and mate much delicious home cooking.

Now that that's established, here is a list of events that took place in the 72 goddamn hours that I was away from home in Toronto:

- My dad and I got into several heated conversations about: nature v. nurture as it applied to the upbringing of serial killers; bullet entry- and exit-wounds; the type of person who's out at 2am anyway (I responded that "I am!" and my dad was scandalized); the purpose, function, and moral standing of Unions; and who ate the last bag of Cadbury mini-eggs someone had stockpiled in a rather poor hiding spot.

- Regarding Unions: Windsor City works are currently on strike (legitimately -- the two-tiered retirement benefits proposal from City Council is complete bullshit) over a retirement/pension benefits issue. This means that none of Windsor's parks or public spaces have been maintained, and garbage has not been collected, for, at the time of my visit, six weeks. This made the sick, crumbling city look even more post-apocalyptic than usual, with the garbage everywhere, knots of angry people gathered under tarps and around the entrances to public places, and weeds growing so tall it looked like nature was already starting to reclaim a space abandoned by humanity.

- While is a local discount grocery store, helping my grandmother do a little shopping, I felt the unmistakable sensation of a hand patting my ass. Wheeling around, I found the STORE MANAGER standing immediately behind me. When our eyes met, before I could begin the tirade I had waiting for him, he raised a hand to his brow, tipped his imaginary hat in an"afternoon, little lady" fashion, winked, and went back to pricing some produce. I exhaled my angry breath and could only shake my head in wonder.

DESPITE THIS, I managed to get a little nostalgic. Not for Windsor, which has long ago become a place that I happily escaped; I will never live there again. However, the time I spent in Amherstburg was nearly idyllic (maybe in contrast?). The weather was beautiful, all the flowers were out, and the breeze coming off the water was so sweet and cool. For a moment, just a moment, I was won over by its simple wholesomeness.

The universe must have heard my nostalgia, and decided that a reminder was in order. A reminder of how I came to loathe my surroundings during the two months I lived there last summer, when I was stranded and separated and clinically depressed. So just as I was thinking about the prettiness and cheap real estate of the town, sitting in the back of my dad's Jag, when the unmistakable throaty growl of a Harley pulled up next to us.

My dad owned a string of motorcycles over the course of his life, and still knows a lot of aging motorcycle dudes. One such dude had come up next to us at a red light, and started waving to my dad, who rolled the window down. The two yelled greetings over their respective engines. Then, Aging Motorcycle Dude spotted me. I was only about 7-11 when I rode about with my dad, but since my hair is blond again right now he recognized me.

"Hey sweetie! Given your dad any grandchildren yet? Got a bun in the oven?"

I was silent, and my dad managed to blurt out something helpful:

"She's working on it!"

Then the light turned green and the Harley roared away.

My Sunday, I was back in Toronto and felt this enormous rush of happiness to be home.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 10:30 a.m.!!