I come home to Calgary each year for Christmas, and each trip back is a little bit different. The first few years, I was so immersed in Toronto life - partying in the clubs, making new friends and exploring my independence - that coming back to Calgary at Christmas was a chore. It seemed so small and grey, and bleak, and backwards. Even when I was here, I felt like I was miles away, planning my next party in Toronto.
The years after that, the trips home were a blessed relief. I had stretched myself so thin, and pushed myself so hard in my new Toronto life, that I was completely exhausted - physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was like a small child, completely stripped of internal resources, and needing my mother to take care of me. I felt so alone that I remember crying on the phone with my parents and talking about moving back to Calgary, even though there was no future for me there. In those days, the simplicity of Calgary seemed like paradise, and all I saw were blue skies, sunshine and calm.
Eventually though, things evened out, and the trips back and forth became less emotional. In the last few years, my connection to Calgary, the city, has gradually faded. It's become like a giant strip mall - my own personal PST free shopping plaza!
I visit the 2 friends I have left here, but even that connection is fading, becoming more ephemeral. We meet and try to catch up, but how do you effectively communicate a year's worth of hopes, failings, disasters and achievements over a few dinners? Especially when you feel yourself drifting further and further away from them into the beautiful clouds of future potential.
Mostly, I spend my time in Calgary with my family, comforted by the slowly changing patterns of home. Things seem to be on pause here, moving at a snail's pace. This peacefulness endows Toronto life with a manic energy and excitement that seems cartoonish in comparison. I believe it is the experience of these contradictions that allow me to be in Toronto (to take advantage of opportunity, culture, arts, diversity), but not of Toronto (consumerist, status-oriented, pretentious).