I remember standing in Nathan Phillips Square
I’d like to say that it happened just before things fell apart but if I’m being honest they were well over at this point and we were just clinging to some stupid hope that we could pull through even though it was obvious that we couldn’t.
I used to think looking back that we were in Toronto because we were looking at apartments but that isn’t right. This happened after I’d dragged him from Hamilton to Toronto to look at a place because I was lonely and miserable in Hamilton and desperately looking for some sort of familiarity which is how Toronto felt to me –something I knew and understood. He’d played along and we’d already put our names down for an apartment in a month or so by this point.
We were in town for WinterFest which maybe they still do in Toronto or maybe they don’t, I’m not sure since I haven’t been before or since that occasion.
The Weakerthans were playing and I wanted to see them. They weren’t one of my bands the way that they are now but I was sort of grasping for anything that felt like home at the time even though I didn’t realize it then.
I remember that we had a fight because he didn’t want to go so I hopped a Go Train and met him in Toronto as a compromise which didn’t really help because it was cold outside and he didn’t want to stand outside in the cold and see a concert even though that was the point.
He wanted to go and I didn’t because their set wasn’t finished and it was snowing and seeing this concert was the whole reason I’d dragged him to Toronto, dammit.
So he stayed on the edge of the crowd and I weaved my way to the front and felt better surrounded by all the people and a group of guys and two girls started talking in between one of the songs and mentioned that they were from Winnipeg and I said
hey me too
and we all talked about how they were on layover between London and Winnipeg for a few days and were in town to see the show and I said I’m moving to Toronto soon and they said
you’re so brave
and I felt brave for the first time in a long time.
One of them gave me a swig of the rye they were drinking as the next song started playing and I remember closing my eyes and feeling the snow on my face and listening to that song and feeling
so hopeful and excited for the future.
It didn’t last very long. A few weeks later I found myself on a flight back to Winnipeg to pick up the pieces of my heart and the life I had tried to leave behind.
I couldn’t listen to The Weakerthans for a really long time and especially not that song which I associated with that last perfect moment which of course wasn’t perfect at all.
It’s been a long time since that moment and last week I found myself wandering around The Exchange in the dark humming that same song as I looked up at the big rows of windows
and I realized that it still made me feel hopeful and happy. Just in a different way.
It’s funny how things change.