Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not-writing

I am who I am
made by all that came before this
sights from the side of the highway and my life in different cities I've lived.
—Tanya Davis, "Made in Canada"

I'm not-writing a book about Toronto in that way of sneaking up on the idea when it isn't looking and pinning it to the page. Maybe it's presumptuous having only been here for two months. But I like the romance of discovering a city for the purpose of capturing a sense of it, wrapping it up in ideas, and turning it into something mythic.

For the past two, nearly three months, I've been making a collection of ideas about Toronto. I thought, surely if I keep stuffing them into a jar—don't worry, it's got air holes—they have to mingle and become something. For the longest time, I could feel the ghost of it haunting my peripheral vision. If I waited, if I was still and then turned quickly enough, I'd grab hold of what it was.

I have many, many fragments of what it is not. What it was. What it won't be any longer. I think it's a fable, a strange surreal folk tale wrapped in allegory and wanting to say something about community, about seeing the world in that magic-shrouded way the young can see places.

I think it also just wants to be weird and wonderful and not shackled to reality, not forced to give way to what is in lieu of what would be cooler if it was.

It'll probably get away on me; I'm going to let it.

Here's a paragraph of what it wasn't—not quite, but close:


Someone told me once that every city you live in will always get compared to the first city you called home. It’s inevitable, because cities want to mark you as their own. They want in your head and your blood—that’s the reason why different people fall in love with different places. Cities are an endangered species—there aren’t many of the giant sprawling omnivores left. Now it’s all communities, boroughs, neighborhoods. They say it’s because there isn’t anyone strong enough to channel all of that—to hold the entirety of a metropolis inside their heart.

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