Thursday, August 03, 2006

And the ball stops rolling... right here, this very moment: baked potato in the oven, steak on the grill beside the corn cob, "The Boy Least Likely To" on my headphones, the computer resting beside my camera and a copy of "Napoleon: A Political Life" (so sue me, I read _Les Mis_ on the way to Halifax and now look at me--non-fiction!)...

And I'm a software developer at the Princess Margaret Hospital living and working in downtown Toronto.

You have to remember, I'm still in Lithuania. Not physically of course, but I continue to be blindsided by it at odd moments: passing certain senior ladies, turning the corner to find an Eastern European boutique selling tight jeans and printed sweaters (the salespersons' accents surprisingly comfortable), and meeting a plethora of Ukrainians and Belarusans where I never would have picked out that "w" in village before. This is funny because Ali is recently back from Bangladesh, and she's busy sniffing out every salwar kameez within fifty paces. We make an odd pair, strolling down Yonge street, trying to take it all in.

Earlier this morning, I could have looked you straight in the eye and told you it was June. It's not. Ali landed in Toronto on July 9th, and after some quick transition time we hit the road to Halifax for her friend Drew's wedding. The trip was over too soon, but I loved the introduction to Peggy's Cove and the Nova Scotian countryside (...and Victor Hugo ;-] ). For those of you in the know about my own personal P.E.I. curse, well, still unbroken: I have not as yet graced those reddish shores. But the trip was worth it nonetheless, and my multi-lingual nostalgia was refreshingly assuaged by our very own Quebec. I may still occasionally get Upper and Lower Canada confused, but hey! Canada has a history! (Note: this is apparently good to remember when living in Toronto, as you may suddenly find yourself on the border between Little Portugal and Little Argentina during World Cup action, where (as in most of the city) the ratio of foreign flags to Canadian is 99:1... and the rest say "Go Leafs Go." :-] )

So I still find myself reacting to the city in various ways, but surprisingly (not so?), many of them are positive. Foremost among these happy things are the job and living arrangements that I've managed to procure (or have procured me?)... but perhaps a little more background is an order.

As you may remember, I spent May and June pouring time and stress into the job search amid the guilty pleasures of a reunion tour. Silly me: everything was waiting for me the whole time--I just didn't know it yet! After drawing blanks for almost two months, sometime around the end of June I decided to drive to Toronto and hope for the best... no real plans beyond a list of phone numbers. After a brief side trip to an extended-family picnic at Happy Rolph's petting zoo (...don't ask :] ), I showed up at the doorstep of one "Justin Liu," my trusty backpack and equally trusty ThermaRest in hand. He welcomed me in and said, "Hi. By the way, you have a house and a job."

Long story short: I had interviewed with Justin's team at the Princess Margaret back in May. I didn't get the job, but on the interim a new one-year contract had come up--and they'd already interviewed me once. So by the time I opened Justin's door, all I had to do was sign the papers. Oh, and Justin's housemate had just decided to move out, which is how I found myself moving into a new place, mid-lease, the day after I got back from Halifax and the day before I started my new job.

So, one (or two) humbling miracle(s) later, I'm settling into life in the eye of the metropolitan storm: The Annex, a quiet neighborhood just north of the University of Toronto, right smack in the downtown T-Dot. No one GTA and outward seems to believe me, but it's really nice here. I'm splitting the upper floor of an old Victorian with Justin--the second-floor balcony is ours:

157 Admiral Road.

In addition to this, my walk to work takes me through quiet streets shouldered by some positively wonderful old ivied houses--

on the way to work...

as well as some decidedly Torontonian backdrops:

a little further on.

All told, not a bad introduction to the place! And that's a snapshot of the pieces :) I don't have any furniture yet; I've been running around parking my car everywhere I can find a nook; I'm balancing groceries and paycheques and wish-lists until I can find my feet. But what little money I have left after Lithuania is the direct result of the generosity of people who believed in my being there, and this gives me a profound respect and thankfulness for where I find myself now, however long I stay.

Now I just have to start adding in a few evenings: soccer (Zwei LinkenFuss? If Dave ever goes?), ultimate, maybe a choir with the legendary Steve and Louise... and life is building towards a glowing autumn--though at 50 degrees Celsius after humidity it's clear summer isn't over yet (of course, in *Tennessee* it might as well be February ;-] ).

My humble apologies to everyone who has been trying to track me down recently--the phrase of the year is definitely "off the grid"--but one of these days I'll get a phone number and try and do something social again. Until then, feel free to drop by 157 Admiral any time between 6pm and 10pm weekdays, any time at all on weekends. I may still be sleeping on a ThermaRest, but I can probably spot you a couch. :)