Despite having spent most of my life living in a city, urban living is something I’ve never been good at. Even when I first moved to Oakville to attend Sheridan College I struggled with culture shock. Farm living was nothing like the suburbs, despite the fact that Oakville is a lovely and tame Canadian city. My first few months in Winnipeg was just as tough, especially after several years in northern Ontario after I graduated college. I constantly questioned my accent, my clothing and my haircut despite the fact that in Winnipeg any attempt at fashion is wasted — hidden under down coats, Sorel boots and toques. I survived my city years having never eaten sashimi or ordering an Americano and both my husband and I were relieved to give up city life two years ago.
Since moving to cottage country, we’ve successfully avoided extended stays in Toronto. Sure, tourists visit our small town all summer long, but seeing brand new Uggs and wool socks at the farmer’s market was the closest I needed to get to urban living. But in the last few weeks I’ve had to visit Toronto several times, including three whole days last weekend for Blissdom and the experience has left me an anxiety-ridden mess. As a clinically depressed and anxious person, I’m very good at self care. So I spent the week before getting lots of sleep, eating well and hugging my family. I figured I was well prepared for a weekend adventure in Toronto. I was wrong. Here are a few things I wasn’t ready for:
- Zombies. I don’t spook easily, but when I do, it’s guts and gore that get me every time. This past weekend was the annual Toronto Zombie Walk — who knew that Toronto was home to so many enthusiastic undead?
- Abundant meat and cheese. I’m a long-time vegetarian and I have developed a bizarre aversion to dairy products since having my kids (OK, except for ice cream). Colour me surprised to find out that none of the restaurants I visited on the weekend had vegan options.
- Blackberry users. My town is an iPhone town. Imagine my surprise when at dinner I was surrounded by Blackberry users! Which is good, because trying to calculate a tip quickly was best left to them — I was too busy playing with my Easy Bake Oven app.
- Stores stay open past 6:00 p.m. One of my adventures included the Blissdom Road Rally, where I was packed into a car with four hilarious and lovely city chicks. Our first stop was Yonge and Dundas, enough to strike fear into the heart of this country mouse. Emma Waverman told me my face was white and my jaw dropped when we walked into the Eaton Centre. I had no idea people went out after dark! Aren’t they worried about zombies?
- City people are really nice. One of my biggest fears was that bloggers I idolized would be aloof and have nicer eyebrows than me. All of the women I met were kind and genuinely cared about helping other bloggers become more successful. Aloof no, but indeed they all had nicer brows.
After my city weekend, I then worried that I’d have a hard time coming home. Bringing me back to the rural real world was an early morning house call by the exterminator, who dropped in to re-bait the traps for our rodent control program. Over a cup of cold coffee while dressed in my pajamas, we chatted mice and spiders and laughed at my lazy city cat that ignores both of these pests. Like everyone else in my small town, the exterminator is my cousin. It’s good to be home.
Are you from a rural town? If so, do you visit big cities often?