I was born in Oakville – a comfy, boring suburb of Toronto – and after maybe a month in a home that I don’t think I have a photo of, I moved a couple streets to a house I called home for twenty years. When my mom and siblings moved out of that house less than a year ago, my grandparents moved in and I didn’t have to give up any of the space that I’d grown sentimental about over two decades. It’s kind of nice knowing strangers aren’t putting their gross selves all over the rooms where important moments in my life played out. When I go there now I don’t walk around like I own the place and there’s gaudy paintings of Jesus, but I’m happy and grateful that I can still visit and it’s in familiar hands.
Toward the end of my undergrad, I moved downtown after too many stressful rush hour commutes with large canvases plus the building shame and fomo from living in the suburbs. I had been coming downtown since high school (Queen St. pretty much) and my friends had already all moved to the city by the time I did, so when I got my apartment I wasn’t overwhelmed by the tall buildings or the number of people or whatever. I wasn’t wowed or shocked into loving the city since I entered into it so gradually, but after several years of living here it’s made it’s mark. Toronto and my apartment feel like home to me more than ever and I’m leaving in one week. As a person who’s never really had to leave a place behind, it’s a big deal for me.
All the artists I know, myself included, hang on to too much stuff and are attached to stupider things than apartments; any and all papers, ticket stubs, old dried paint. Packing my apartment up took forever because I stopped to read creative writing assignments from high school or I found myself wanting to hold on to old cardboard boxes – not for moving purposes, but in case I wanted to use them for paper mache masks. I leafed through thousands of fairly autobiographical drawings, paintings and photos from the last few years and couldn’t help but already feel nostalgic about my time in this city. When I came to my grade twelve yearbook there was a two-page spread of computer-printed, glue-sticked photos from our art class’ trip to New York. I am especially fond of this crappy photo of my best friend Olga and I in Times Square. It was our first time in New York and I can’t think of a photograph where I look more excited. And it’s in Times Square of all places…
Olga and I constantly blabbed our big city dreams at each other ten years ago in high school and for the past several, she’s been living them in Manhattan. It’d be completely ridiculous to tell her this in person, but not only is she my best friend, she’s a huge inspiration to me. It’s cool to see someone make her dreams come true, and I’m trying to be that. So far, this has been a pretty golden year and moving to Brooklyn to start my MFA at Parsons is probably going to set 2014 as a new high point, not to mention a tick off the bucket list. Just typing that out makes me smile.
I’m nervous and giddy and all that, but mostly just grateful. I would have never come close to being able to attend Parsons and make this move if it weren’t for the support of my family. My uncles and grandparents have been more than helpful (as usual) but I just can’t explain how grateful I am to have the mother that I do. Seriously, moms are the best. Seeing my family less and leaving all the people I’ve come to know well is going to be a change for someone who’s never left a place (I still pick up my little brother from the same elementary school I went to for ten years and chat with old teachers) but I think this is going to be great. Alright, finna go achieve some dreams right now.