Words I never thought I would say. I’ve always been under the impression from meeting people and from my own experience that for the most part the people in love with this city are the ones who were born and raised here. My answer when people ask about how I feel about living in Toronto generally goes something along the lines of the following: “I love the life living in Toronto offers me, I’m not sure if I really love the city itself.”
I’ve heard that it takes a good five years before a new city really starts to feel like home. But feeling at home in this city hasn’t been the issue. My five year anniversary is quickly approaching and I feel very at ease calling Toronto my home. I have an apartment I love, a neighbourhood I enjoy, a slew of phenomenal friends and work which makes me happy. So how did I get from simply feeling at home in Toronto to falling in love with the city? I don’t have a definite answer, but I have a few ideas.
I think one of the most significant things for me, is that I am no longer a student. I have officially spent an entire year in this city, living and working without studying. My relationship with the city has drastically changed due to this simple fact. I spend time in different places than I used, I get to go out more to enjoy the city I live in, and I am spending more time with people who are also not students. My social circle and habits have yet again shifted and I quite like the change. I feel much more connected.
More than the year out of school though, I think the reason I am beginning to fall in love with Toronto is because I can see a future for myself here. When I graduated I often got asked if I was planning on moving back to British Columbia or if I was going to make Toronto home. I knew for certain that I wasn’t interested in going back to B.C. but I hesitated to commit to Toronto. I just wasn’t sure if I could make the life I wanted in this city. I wouldn’t say that I am set on being in Toronto forever, but for the first time I see it as a true possibility.
As much as I loved my ocean side upbringing, I have always known that I was a big city girl at heart. I thrive off diversity, ample opportunity and a fast paced, constantly shifting lifestyle. I have contemplated other metropolitan centres. I dream of spending a year living in Europe and I am dying to return to Buenos Aires. When it all comes down to it though, I am a proud Canadian girl. As much as other countries tempt me, I can’t see myself ever abandoning a life in this wonderful country. At least not permanently.
And the longer I spend in Toronto, the more I find myself attached to the place. Some of the things that others find terrifying I can’t seem to get enough of. Things like the fact that it is so big and overpopulated. Those are aspects of Toronto that actually make me quite happy. At the same time though, I feel like it is a big city with the heart of a much smaller one. I am constantly amazed at how many kind and generous souls there are here despite how challenging Toronto can be to survive in.
Now I say all this with the complete admission that Toronto is not perfect. There are many things in this city that I would be overjoyed to see change. But to truly love is to love both the good and the bad. I think the moment that I realized that all the things I don’t like about Toronto had also become things that I appreciate about it, was when I realized that I might just have found home or at least a city that I will truly miss if I ever have to leave it.