Nine years is almost a decade. That’s a long time. I sat on the couch, paralyzed by the To Do list I had to check off in the coming two weeks after work hours, and of course, wandered over to Facebook instead. Eventually, I ended up where I always do when I’ve read everyone’s updates and comments: in my photo section. I looked at photos from just three years ago, and began to wax so very nostalgic, and this list was born.
Random Memories of an Almost-Decade in Canada, In No Particular Order
1. Waiting anxiously in pouring summer rain with my dearest Shelina J. for last-minute tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai” in the rain. We applauded the performers until our palms turned red. We had never seen anything like it before, this idea that humans can create so much beauty and precision and perfection with something as simple as their bodies, and yet so much that we do with our minds is destructive and polluting and ugly.
2. Being pushed into a snow bank by one of my DipCom Concordia classmates as we walked to the Jailhouse to see our friend Lederhosen Lucil perform. I swear, it was about 3 feet high. It was Krista’s first time bringing out Lucil, and we hooted and hollered, and shouted the house down. The jailhouse, sadly, is no longer there.
3. Sitting atop a hill eating with about 40 other people, including three of my most beloved friends, Krish, Julie, and Alidor, one summer in Lac des Plages, Quebec. Julie’s uncle had roasted an entire lamb meshwi-style, all day on an open spit, making it tender and succulent. The moon came out, and Julie’s older family members started singing Quebec country songs, and I thought I was in the last panel of an Asterix comic.
4. Holding my friend Jen’s ten day old baby, Sydney, in my arms. A year later, making spit bubbles with Syd under a colleague’s desk. Three years after that, having a minor argument and getting the verbal smackdown and evil eye from Syd for suggesting that she rename one of her dolls.
5. Walking into my best friend, Shonali’s apartment in NYC, a week after she had her first baby. I saw something move on the futon from the corner of my eye, and I looked, and it was my little baby girl Mayanka making fighting fists. So small that she fit into the crook of my elbow. I bawled with happiness.
6. Performing, on the eve of my birthday, in a play I wrote, and then getting taken out for beers, and emerging into the first massive snowstorm of the winter of 2000. The roads were empty and quiet, and the ten of us lay right in the middle of Rue Clark, making snow angels.
7. Spending an entire day drinking and eating on the patio of the Cafe Diplomatico in Toronto the week of my cousin’s wedding. Then again, for my farewell party, with all my good friends by my side.
8. Stokes and I dancing in her living room to JC Chasez’s “Burning Me Up With Her Love” at 6 in the morning, when she lived at La Cite in Montreal.
9. Eating grilled shrimp and homemade, chilled fresh garlic mayo on the deck of Eric’s house.
10. My old Portuguese landlady from Christie street in Toronto, Ilda Pereira, crying and telling me that she loved me, and that I should not fly to India for the summer, because she was scared that my plane would crash. Her home was a memorial to Elvis, she loved him so much. She had plates, cups, table mats, and every biography ever made about him.
11. Singing karaoke with both my brothers one night on my elder brother’s birthday. We were a group of eight, but I don’t think the Merchants ever stopped rocking the mic. Skunk-drunk the whole lot of us, and I still remember, as if it happened in slow motion, my 6-foot-2 younger brother laughing so hard at the antics of my older brother, that he falls backwards onto the sofa, legs up in the air.
12. Driving down the Don Valley Parkway on a Sunday summer afternoon with Kaezad, singing Def Leppard songs at the top of our voices.
13. Spending an afternoon on the lawn in front of the University of Toronto’s Hart House with Brandon, reading books.
14. An Ethiopian dinner and long conversation at Addis Ababa with Prakash, followed by rocking on down to a live band at The Unicorn until the wee hours.
15. Toronto Island, summer of 2004. Riding a bicycle with Lisa, falling over, and scraping my knee.
16. A heatwave in Montreal, the summer of 2001. Jia, Catherine, Gabriella, and I walked back from our film editing studio, and the skies opened up, thundered down. We took off our shoes and ran barefoot in the rain, got wet to our skin.
17. Camping for ten days in the Gaspesie with Khadi. One night, there was a lightning storm. We were camped out on the edge of a cliff, facing Bonaventure Island and the Roche Perce . We sat in our camp chairs under a light drizzle, and watched night turn to blinding day over the Atlantic ocean.
18. Crying so many times on my brothers’ shoulders, and they would just patiently watch over me.
19. Attending my first Soka Gakkai meditation session in 2007, with wonderful, warm, kind people, including Shanna, who became a friend and passed on a year later after losing her battle with cancer.
20. Chasing a thief down the street outside ECW Press after he came into our office and stole my TTC monthly pass out of my jacket pocket. It cost a hundred bucks and it was the begnning of the month. I caught him. I shook him. I threatened him. I got it back. Jen called me “our Buffy.” It was the nicest compliment I could have ever received.
21. Getting the keys to my condo. The carpet was a dirty grey, the walls were a dirty beige, and the kitchen was coated in a film of grease I had to scrape off with a chisel. For four days we worked on it. Our backs ached. My fingers and the soles of my feet hurt so much that I had to pop Advil to wake up in the morning and get back to painting and cleaning. But it was done. And it was mine.
22. Getting drunk and giggling with my mum at Area, a restaurant in Montreal’s gay village.
23. Walking up to Mont Royal on summer weekends in the morning, taking small trails to reach the top.
24. Finding my old roommate Tania again, by what can only be called a serendipitous miracle, in Montreal, and becoming this beautiful woman’s bridesmaid four years later.
25. Running through the grass and trees with Krish and Tanya in torrential rain, pretending that we were acting in a Hindi movie. Before that, a picnic, with baguettes and cheese and white wine.
26. Moving to Toronto and meeting Jack David, publisher of ECW Press, who promised my dad that he would take care of me. Despite his inscrutability, I always knew that he watched out for me, and even after I stopped working at ECW, he was the one person I could always turn to for help, advice, and encouragement.
27. Spending an entire month in the Hart House library, every single day from 9 am until 11 pm, writing my grand oeuvre. With a short break for a nap and lunch on one of their smelly red faux-leather couches where at least three regular homeless men came to read and nap as well.
29. Cafe Frappe and long conversations with my sister from another mother, Eirini, on the Danforth. Where I first began to love Greek cold coffee and made a friend for life.
30. Cooking — cooking up storms and feeding hordes in the kitchens of: 2100 St. Marc, 2125 St. Marc, 91 Christie, 9 Grenadier, and finally, 25 Grenville. Not to mention 78 St. Cuthbert, but it wasn’t “my” kitchen, it’s Krish’s.
32. Falling in love, out of love, in love, out of love… and so it goes.
33. Watching my mother walk on icy ground, the winter of 2000. I have never heard her pray so hard, or walk so slow.
34. Watching my father dash out of the house after every snowfall, bundled up in warm clothes, to take long walks in the snow through Westmount and revel in the crunch under his feet.