Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Hot Town - Summer in the City"

I spent most of the long weekend with my three sons – Donnie, twenty, Ryan eighteen and Kyle, eleven.  It’s rare for all three boys to converge at my house at the same time.   Donnie lives in Toronto where he works and goes to school; Ryan lives in Mississauga with his father, leaving Kyle, the “only child,” still at home with me. 

I valued those novel, three days.  They gave me the quality “mom fix” that I need to have periodically.  After watching them come and go – and eat and eat – under my roof for a couple of days, my nagging concerns about their health and happiness dissolved.  On the third day, I piled everyone into my little car.  We headed into the city where I released the two older boys back into their natural habitats, confident that they would prosper!
Kyle and I continued deeper into the heart of the urban jungle to spend a special, “awesome” day together.   With our water bottles, my roller blades and his skateboard, we hopped on the subway train at Islington station and wormed our way into the core of the city; our destination – the Pier behind the Harbour Castle Hotel where we would board a Ferry to Toronto Island.  Although forewarned, I was still shocked by the masses of others we joined upon our ascent from the depths of the transit system.  In the heat we were absorbed in a molten surge; an indistinguishable throng of hundreds – two more nameless insects in a swarm of locusts descending upon a picnic.  A block from the dock, I began to fear the entrance kiosk and what effect the four narrow admission wickets would have upon the manners, patience and general safety of this massive throng.  My fears were not unfounded...
I abhor a “bad time;” so much so, that I will call it a “good time” simply to deny its occurrence.  It’s a very dire situation from which at least one positive thing cannot be salvaged and if that one, tiny facet of brilliance is accentuated it can impart a reflecting radiance to the whole.  I was determined to have a good time that day.  Good times punctuate the pages of life with exclamation marks - and I love a good read!  When we stopped to (hopefully) form orderly lines with the multitudes I was glad that we were near the lake to (hopefully), catch a breeze.  When a couple of obnoxious men crashed the line in front of Kyle and me, I was glad that I made the uncharacteristic decision to speak pointedly and evenly to them about it; restoring at once our rightful place in line and, more importantly, my good temper. 
We boarded the “Ned Hanlon” finally and secured a good position on the stern to appreciate the receding skyline.

In due course, we docked, and then slowly plodded across the lower deck to disembark.  The hoped-for breeze was faint - if that.  I wilted and became a bit dizzy.  I glimpsed the set expression on the face of the heavy-set, thirty-something year old woman in the wheelchair beside me and, on my feet, I felt more fortunate and less anxious about waiting to escape.  Making eye contact with her, I smiled pointing to her laden parcel carrier and joked, “I guess you always get stuck carrying everything don’t you?”  She laughed back and I enjoyed her smile as she said, “you never get to travel lightly when you have kids!” 
Finally we got off the Ferry.  Not since Noah has anyone been happier to get off a boat!  I put on my skates, put away my “Pollyanna” mantle of forbearance and started to breathe a bit easier.  Kyle and I wove our way through the crowd and where the path forked – going to the amusement park on the right and to the beach trail on the left, we followed the quieter beach option.  It was Kyle’s first trip to the “exotic” Toronto islands – a first-hand adventure for him – and a vicarious first-hand adventure for me.

On a hot and humid afternoon that rumbled with distant thunder, our luck held out and we caught only a few drops of rain; the grave concern being the damaging effects of water to the “grip tape” of Kyle’s new skateboard.  I, for one, would have been happy to skate along in a steady, refreshing drizzle! 

After touring half of the island we continued on with part deux of our “awesome” day and headed into Toronto.  There, I enjoyed the first-hand adventure of rollerblading from Front Street to the Eaton Centre – amazing fun!   I wouldn’t have guessed that Bay Street would be safe to skate, but it was smooth, flat and because of the holiday it was traffic-free - perfect for skating along! 

Then it was on to a few more “firsts” for Kyle: visiting city hall, combing the Eaton Centre and dining at the Hard Rock Cafe.  His highlights from the Hard Rock: 
·         “Kiss” and various other "rocker" memorabilia on the walls
·         New set of “Toronto”-branded drum sticks
·         A very cool new fedora


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