Before I start on all the gorgeous things that were waiting for me in Sydney, let’s relive my favourite show with The God No!s – August 30 at the strangely neon and cosy Hawaii Bar on Dovercourt Road in Toronto.
Today is my last day in Toronto. I’ve been here for three and a half months. Tomorrow night I’ll be in Brooklyn. I’m living decadently in a hotel, with room service and a king bed all to myself.
Goodbye, Toronto! Thanks for the streetcar rides, donuts, smiles and sunny days. And goodbye to beautiful Canada. I’ll surely be back.
Last night I had the opportunity to go to an opening-night film at the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF is the biggest party of the year here, and arguably the largest and most influential film festival in the world. I saw Clouds of Sils Maria, at the Princess of Wales theatre on King St.
It was a long, literate, layered film about the passing of time and suffering for one’s art, set against grand Swiss landscapes and luxurious hotel rooms. Director Olivier Assayas and star Juliette Binoche were both there at the premiere. The radiant Juliette told us that she had challenged Olivier to compose a strong, complex female role for her. I found the premise more interesting as the film progressed – a middle-aged actress agrees to remake a play that made her famous 20 years prior. Of course Juliette is perfect in her role as Maria, but I know that everyone is going to be/already talking about Kristen Stewart, who plays Maria’s personal assistant Valentine. She’s completely believable and obviously wise beyond her years. Really. Also, this film passes the Bechdel test with flying colours. Four stars from me, even with the trademark bizarre editing.
Last Friday The God No!s played a proper live show at Amsterdam Bicycle Club here in Toronto. Here’s a short clip of us covering I Shot The Sheriff.
I chatted with Rod Quinn about the future of hockey and vintage shopping in Toronto. There were fairly good acoustics in the food court staircase where I was standing!
I was invited to a little beach party on Ward’s Island, in the eastern part of the island cluster just a short ferry ride away from the city. It was my first time on Lake Ontario, and the evening could not have been more fresh and clear and rosy.
Looking over the lake, there were rogue ducks waddling everywhere and a whole lot of other birds screaming from the next island over. And a party cruise playing music from 2005. It was still lovely.
When the sun set, we could see lights from the United States twinkling on the horizon.
Full of beer and giggles and cookies, we caught the last ferry back to the city. The CN tower was all dolled up, as usual.
Two and a half months ago, I flew out of Kingsford Smith on my way to North America. Alone. It’s been, in the majority, a solo trip since and assuming all goes to plan (no September snowstorms), I’m halfway through.
It feels like much longer. My memories of California and Mexico are like a colourful dream sequence now, and that was only in April. I’m hearing an odd mashup of accents when I open my own mouth. Like everything, I’m sure that the next half of the trip will be intense and fantastic when it’s happening, and be over far too soon.
Along the way I have met dozens of solo travellers and I always feel like we’re part of a special club. We’ve discovered the thrill of going out into the unknown, armed with only wits and charms. Yes, there are a million blog posts already about how travel opens your mind and the romance of leaving home with only a few pairs of clothes and some good books. So everyone gets it. But there is something to be said about deliberately turning yourself into a complete stranger.
For one thing, people are impressed by it. You really came here all by yourself? Do you have family here? Friends? Wow! You’re brave! (And I smile to myself.) I don’t feel overly brave or adventurous, really – it’s Canada. They speak English here. I’m a dual citizen so I don’t need any scary immigration paperwork. Everyone is friendly. But I am proud of one thing – conquering my fear of being alone.
On my 25th birthday, which was a few weeks ago, I got a manicure. Then I went to a Japanese restaurant, by myself. I splurged on an expensive ramen and a beer. After that I walked over to a tiny theatre for a film screening I’d read about online. When the film was over, I made some friends by chatting about the rain and offering some chewing gum around, and we went out for more beers. It felt good to be a grown-up woman who could find her own entertainment and meet new people.
I’m planning on writing a separate post a bit later about the act of a woman going into a bar to drink alone. But it’s not too much of a stretch to say that for me, getting used to that has been one of the most rewarding treats of the whole exercise.
Maybe being happy alone is a skill that can only be learned through experience. In any case, I think that mastering it can only be useful for all the trials and errors of an interesting life.
Sometimes, in idle moments – and there are many – I think about the singular burn and sparkle of the Australian sunlight. The way everyone’s skin looks shiny after the sun sets on a hot day. Wattles, and jacarandas, and espressos and Coopers. It’ll all still be there, and I’ll get to enjoy it with all the people I miss. But I’m blessed to be young and healthy and I know who I am, which has been a wonderful thing to discover.
If you’re a woman (or man) who has travelled alone, please share your thoughts about it with me. xx
As absolutely anyone would know by my incessant bragging, I’m learning the drums and was lucky enough to get asked to play with a band. We’re called The Go No!s.
This was the Open Mic night at Pauper’s Pub on Bloor St, last Thursday night.
And no, you can’t see me in the video but believe me, I was looking terrified because this was my first live performance ever. Well, not quite. I used to perform piano at every school assembly, but that was way less cool.
People in Toronto should like our Facebook page.
P.S. Playing drums is much harder, but even more fun than it looks!