Alone in Toronto….by choice.
Does it matter that I enjoy doing things alone? This was a question that I started thinking about today. I’d just had a lovely lunch with some new friends. I’ve been living in Toronto for six weeks now and although I’ve met some lovely people I sometimes would rather do things alone rather than have someone with me just for the sake of it.
I know few people who would choose to go alone to the cinema and yet when I spent a few days in New York City a couple of years ago I found it so gratifying. No-one to question what I wanted to see. In fact I barely made any plans and strolled in off the streets and into the ‘Paris’ cinema. They only show one film so there wasn’t any choice but I almost didn’t care what they were going to show. It was just being there in New York and doing something because I felt like it. Afterwards I remember it being around 10 o’clock at night. The streets were still wet after a long downpour but now it was calm and the balmy August night had that intoxicating smell of rain. Fifth Avenue was quiet. Only the lights in the shop windows lit the street. It was walking along down the half deserted street that I felt like I was home. New York is my place and whenever I visit it feels like I’m welcomed back. I walk down the streets smiling up and breathing in the city.
Being alone I can fully take it in. Some people don’t get that feeling in New York, it might be their real home town or somewhere else entirely. However I couldn’t have had that experience with someone else. You meet many more people when you’re alone. Strangers have a habit of approaching you, either to ask the time or maybe just to say something, anything.
I love being with people. I have the most incredible friends who I could tell everything to. I would go far out of my way to see them for the briefest of moments. But now I’m here in this city I feel like I want to have my own experience - I want to divert from the well heeled path of being a tourist. When you walk down a street alone you take the time to notice things - the smells, the queues outside some tiny shop that indicate it’s the good place to go. I want to have a time that I’ll never forget but it doesn’t mean it will be the same experience as all the other exchange students. When they ask me did you go up the CN Tower? Or have you been to the Algonquin Park? I’ll just reply with “No I didn’t…but I found a fabulous coffee shop that does the most intense and smooth espresso and this tiny little Burrito bar which you have to know about to find.” To know a city I have to find my own rhythm. To really say that I’ve lived somewhere I need to find the point where I leave the guide book at home and explore it on my own.