As I walked the streets of Toronto last weekend I couldn’t help but wonder how my life (and myself) would have been different if I grew up in the city. I see young families often when I talk into hipster coffee shops — the children have this air about them, a confidence, an independence that I don’t think living in the ‘burbs offers a person.
I was seven when we moved from Etobicoke to Bolton, which is way up north (it’s really not that far from the city). For the next sixteen years I lived in a quaint little bubble — free of sex (I didn’t know what a blow job was until I graduated from high school), drugs, homeless people, dark and scary alleyways, and yes, rock n’ roll. I went on the subway by myself for the first time at the age of twenty-three, when I got an internship downtown Toronto at Random House of Canada. I still don’t get most dirty jokes, I’m as “innocent and naive” as they come, sometimes I can be a little narrow-minded and a little afraid to broaden my horizons.
What would I be like if I were a born and bred city girl? Would I be braver or more independent? Would I be more street smart than book smart? Would I love the city and hate the ‘burbs? Or the other way around? Would I be as passionate about Toronto and travel as I am now? Would I be living the “artist life” in a cramped apartment on top of a store on Queen West, working at a local pub at night, writing during the day and trying desperately to make ends meet?
No one knows. I can picture myself in a bunch of different scenarios but that is simply my imagination running wild. The fact of the matter is that I am who I am. Where I grew up had a lot to do with the woman I’ve become BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t spread my wings a little. The best part about knowing who you are, and I mean really admitting to the faults and follies, is that you can work on them. You can become a better you. I can be that small town girl who loves heading farther up north just as much as she loves roaming the city streets. There is no one or the other, there is no black or white, but a million shades of grey (I can’t even tell you how many shades of red I turned reading that book :P).