Since 1981, when my parents moved me and my brother to Chicago, I’ve moved no less than 21 times — almost once a year. Now, Toronto is where I live. Where is my home, though?
It certainly isn’t with my estranged biological family, though I have fond memories of my birthtown New Orleans. (Only my grandfather lives there now.) More often than not I think of Tokyo as somewhere I’ve felt relaxed and at ease: a city constantly in flux, not unlike myself. Occasionally I pine for the busy social life I lead in Manhattan, or the strength of the communities I’d explore in Pittsburgh.
But none of my experiences living in these places seem to me like what my colleagues and acquaintances mean when they call Toronto home, a place where they’ve lived most of their lives, or have deliberately chosen as a base of operations. I’m happy to have access to so much variety here; I’m too much of a city girl to feel comfortable in the suburbs. I need mixed-use neighborhoods, multiculturalism, and a good public transportation system to put me at ease. It’s just another place to live, though. I have only found a couple of people I really connect with, and I rarely if ever find myself going out and exploring the city on weeknights or weekends.
I can’t help but wonder: is it the city itself, my mindset, or the people here that lead to me feeling like such an alien? I felt more discrimination directed towards me in Tokyo, and more isolated on the whole in New York. On the other hand, people here seem to have known each other for many, many years. They’ve lived here most of their lives. Many have never even travelled outside of the province, let alone the country. (The only other place I’ve lived like this was Boston.) The locals have their established social activities, and don’t stray much from them. For lack of a better term, it feels terribly provincial.
As always, there’s a flip side. I acknowledge I haven’t tried really hard to find things to do here. It’s just been easier in other places. I’m not so focused on any one particular activity, so it’s not like I really want to go to a knitting circle, a pickup volleyball tourney, or a singles bar. I get bored way too quickly. I just don’t have any ideas. And I’m turning into a bit of a recluse because of it (and because of my job.)