Windsor: Some know it as the tip of Ontario's wang, others know it as the used-to-be automotive powerhouse of the country, but I know it as my used-to-be home. I know it as the place that blends city-life and life on the water haphazardly, a place with beautiful temperate summers, and damp but mild winters. If you haven’t been, the most marking part would be that it’s flat, like prairie flat, and to be honest, I’ve hated it for a long time because for me that flatness seemed to seep into my image of the place, it encompassed the people, the feel, and the memories of my childhood.
I left for Ottawa – seen by my 18-year-old eyes as the big city – and vowed to never look back, and even sneered at the prospect of coming home for routine celebrations. I will admit it now; I thought I was better than my past and all those I had left behind. I can only admit it because I’ve periodically detached myself from the taint of my childhood distaste for what Windsor represented, which I unfairly judged as a dead city, passé, over with.
I haven’t been home for six months, and I really don’t spend a ton of time catching up with my family over the phone, so this trip over the break was a marathon of family hugs, parties, food, and drinks, but what marked me most was the time that I spent with my little cousins. Hanging out with two 15-year-old girls, first of all made me feel old — trying to keep up with the gossiping slang of two teenagers was like trying to follow the hand movements of world class cup stackers: I — at the ripe old age of 23 — could not keep up.
But what really shocked me was that these two girls, who I had both held as chubby, red-faced babies, were semi-adult people now, and I didn’t know them at all. I’ve spent the past 5 years trying to block out my past by building a new future, but what that has done has made strangers out of the people I care about. As we sat there munching on pizza and laughing about sex, drugs, and alcohol (kids are growing up fast these days) I saw myself, or my old self, in these two budding gals, full of promise and opportunities, insecurity and that strange confidence that teenagers sport as becoming-adults.
I could have written this blog about the girl I met on the street walking a boxer named Julie (the girl’s name was Alyson), or the pretty girl I met on the train home who lived three doors down from me in Ottawa, but nothing has made me feel more unplugged and connected than the two girls who stole my phone while I was in the bathroom to take a million selfies (some of which are featured above). Nothing has made me feel more attached to my world than stepping back into my old one.