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Love Letters: Toronto

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Grace McClure is a Senior Writer for Flightfox, a human-powered travel platform. After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario she travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. After returning to Toronto to join the "real world", she has since run-off to Montreal to be a part of the startup team at Flightfox and learn un peu franc╠žais.

Dear Toronto,

I love you to pieces; each and every beautiful, contradictory and challenging piece. You are your own collage of culture, contrast, and humanity; a medley of different worlds around you. You exist like a global greatest hits album, playing the "best of" tracks from the most exotic, colourful, and chaotic places on earth.

You delight me with your schizophrenia; your neighbourhoods burst with diversity. Your Kensington Market is eclectic and unafraid, hosting famous street buskers and infamous shops. Your Yorkville is pretentious and corporate, catering to the elite and those maxing out credit cards. Your Dovercourt Park is lonely and uninspired, boasting an unofficial dog park and vacant street parking. But each of your neighbourhoods unite to make up the individual you--unique and certifiably insane.

Like your personality, you have a roller-coaster of moods. In the winter you are beautiful but temperamental; you can be cruel and unrelenting. In the spring you are quiet but rejuvenated; you delight us with cherry blossoms and intoxicated squirrels. In the summer you are cheerful but broken; your streets become swollen and your air is thick. During the fall you are social but indulgent; you become swept up with exclusivity and red carpets.

With you, I never knew what to expect. I foolishly misunderstood you. You have so many layers, so much depth; I felt I would never be able to figure you out. I was intimidated and felt under appreciated. After all, you wouldn't even notice if I was gone.

It was fall. You were busy entertaining the likes of Jake Gyllenhal, Scarlett Johannson and Brad Pitt. You didn't care, so neither did I. I left you in September.

Our relationship was always a bit tumultuous. You littered my apartment with your scornful yellow parking tickets, while your inconvenient subway lines always made me late. Your inflated rent never let me move out of dilapidated slums, scarring me with irreversible fears of cockroaches and bed bugs. And under your watch I was ripped-off by cab drivers and threatened by crazed strangers.

Looking back I was irrational and irritated. My departure was premature--something I only came to realize by missing you. I miss your vietnamese subs on Spadina, your $4 caesars at The Lakeview, and running into friends on Bartlett street. I miss buying over-priced drink tickets at your strange weekend festivals, laughing at those in-line to go up the CN tower, and never knowing if it's "shorts weather". Most of all, I miss getting into fights at Korean karaoke, and examining fossils on Friday Night's at the ROM. I miss you on Sundays.

Today when I reminisce, I automatically daydream about who you are at Christmas. I dream that your chilled streets are buzzing with excitement, your carefully decorated storefronts are opaque with fog, and your 50-foot Christmas tree sparkles inside the Eaton Centre. While drinking street-vendor hot chocolate, I imagine watching those gliding across your massive ice rink in Nathan Phillips Square and following the sea of stiff black coats cascading down Bay street.

Toronto, I may not have realised this until you let me go, but I love you. I really do.