Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Year...Reflections on a City of Friends

**Photo caption: This was me a few weeks ago at Kate's going away party.

I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how exactly I would write this post... it is extremely difficult to squish an entire year into the space of one blog entry. I mean, it can be done... but should it?

As many of you know, this year has been a weird one for me. Everyone who knows me, from home, has told me that moving to Toronto was one of the best things I could ever have done for myself. It changed me in ways that I never thought moving would... being in this city has made me into a very confident, self assured, and quite independent individual. I have thrived in the PhD program, found a niche for myself in the English Program, as well as Sexual Diversities Program. I took a class (Public Feelings) that began to shape the direction of my dissertation, and even of late have been invited to contribute to the first edited collection on gay pulps. As Christine pointed out on her last visit to Toronto, I'm a very different person than she knew in Vancouver... and I have to admit, I like this new me.

But of course, there have been strange things in my life - complications with diabetes that landed me in the hospital in December - but I put these complications in their place and told them to fuck off. Upon to returning to Toronto in January I settled back into a good routine, seeing friends, working my ass off, and living life. I got to go back to San Francisco in March, which rocked my world. I moved once, leaving the living alone behind to try it with Lindsey as a roommate, which has proven to be one of the smartest moves I've made yet.

Which brings me around to friends... exactly how can I talk about my friends here in Toronto? Earlier this year, after a presentation in one of my classes, someone asked me if they could be part of my kinship group... well, without knowing it, they already were. The group of friends I've made here are more than just friends, they are kin.

They are one of the best, most amazing, incredible groups of people I've ever known. Lindsey has been a constant rock of support and fun and... oh well she's just one of my favorite people ever! And I love living with her. (Even if she thought my name was Scott when we first met, and did not know how to return my phone call...) Britt has become someone I am excited to see either on line or in, who else is going to want Ice Cream every single time I do? Vanessa taught me the miracle of Vegan cooking... and although I am still a meat eater, at least I can also do damn good things with flax seeds... she's also taught me the fine art of faux hip-hop talk, what more can I ask for? Kate and Danny are two unbelieveably intelligent people that I look up to and cannot wait to see what lies ahead for them... even if I am kinda jealous of a full ride to Columbia. Erin, Melissa, Emma, Julia, Michael and Claire are the best comps group an anxious boy could ever need... and are quickly becoming super close friends Alysa is a newly discovered friend - the insults (towards other people) run rampant! And then, we have Tara...all I need to say is 5 am JD drunk and let me tell you my dating history! Marcos... you were my first friend here in Toronto and are one of the best. Finally, we come to Ariel... How do I talk about Ariel? Ariel and I are... well soulmates in some ways. We share a love for dancing, drinking, Elizabeth Taylor.... I find it hard to sum up Ariel and I...she's just Ariel. Which is one of the best things I could say, I think. I am not sure if I could express how much these people mean to me... how much I have come to care for them, worry about them, and am truly blessed to know them.

Which brings me to some of the newer additions to my Toronto life: Shawn and Dave came into my life this summer to make my small gay life grow a bit. I suddenly have someone who is dorky about Shakespeare, makes great Sangria, and will let me visit their suburban paradise whenever I need to get out of the city. And last, but no where near least, is Anthony. Anthony has reminded me about a lot of things that I forgot, things I am glad to be remembering... I smile when I see him, I smile when I talk to him... he's a great person and I am happy to have him in my life. (I even don't mind going to London...)

I have watched friends come into my life, and sadly I have felt shifts in friendships this year that made me see some step out of my life... and these past few months, I've watched a couple fly off to other places: Holly to Paris, Melissa to India, Danny to New York, Sos to Indiana, Kate to South America. (ok, that's a lot of people!).

So, where am I a year later after driving into Toronto all sweaty and tired and irritated? I am happy. I am stressed that I have to write comps in a week... but I am happy. I am a very different (and thinner) Matt than the one that left Vancouver 12 months and 5 days ago. Toronto changed me... and I love it for that. I still miss home... I miss my mom, sister, nephews, Jordan and my entire extended family there. I miss the water. I miss the trees. I miss JJ Bean coffee.

I have thrived... You didn't kill me Toronto, instead I think we became friends.


Christine Marie said...

JJ Bean Coffee misses you darlin! How amazing is it that a year has gone by and you've become the person you have in that time? I'm so proud of you! *hugs*

Matt J. said...

Thanks honey - I think it is pretty amazing. Although I have to admit, in a year you became an equally amazing person! I am so proud of you too! Hugs...miss you

Anonymous said...


Matt J. said...

hearts to you too, anonymous...

Toronto realtor said...

Hey Matt, I'm really happy to hear such positive reactions on Toronto due to the fact that I live here too and work as a Toronto realtor. There's no wonder you've found so many pals. This city just have its own specific atmosphere put together with friendly and willing behaviour of local people and that makes a great combination for people who want to move to a city but don't want to accept its busy lifestyle. Your life seems to be on a very good way and with all those loving friends I'm pretty sure it'll stay that way for a very long time. :) Take care.

Bloor Street Tears (Formerly Everyone Say Repressed Homosexuality)

A blog about the life and times of a Toronto Grad Student living in Downtown Toronto