Two Days in Hell, aka Weekend in Toronto

18 years ago, my sister-in-law chose a new direction in life, first studying, and then making her career in The Big Smoke. As a result, I have made many trips to that terrible place, including one this past weekend.

“Good Lord, Andrew, what on earth possessed you to spend two days in Toronto?”

After all:

Hell is other people.

JP Sartre

and Toronto is…full of people.

The answer is the same as it is for every unpleasant task in my life; to make my children happy.

One of the few blessings of my COVID-induced mental breakdown is that it dialed my natural reclusiveness up to 11. And yes, going from recluse to hermit was a blessing.

It freed me to do what I want, with whom I want. I spend less time commuting, in meetings, or dealing with office bullshit, and for four glorious years, I haven’t been within 100km of Toronto.

I spend more time exercising, fishing, being in nature, and much more with my kids. But, all good things come to an end and more and more lately I am forced to spend time with people.

I often reflect on my personal transformation. The powers that be took much from me, and now I am choosing what to let go, and what to take back.

Taken from me? Nights at the symphony. Since the early 80s, I have been a concertgoer; Symphony, Opera, Ballet, all of which stopped in 2020.

Now concerts are back, but a hermit can’t go to concerts, and worse, my regional orchestra went bankrupt. Gone. Pfft. I can’t test my tolerance in a city a fraction the size of Toronto.

So, as much as this weekend was about a special birthday night out for kid 2 (we took him to a concert of music from video games), it was a test drive of my tolerance for people.

Millions of them.

Crowded into one awful, stinking, hellscape of a city.

The concert was amazing. The Toronto Symphony and Choir are world class, the performance was great, and kid 2 loved it. Kids 1 and 3 had a great time with their favourite aunt, so all that was left was the question, “Can I do this?

Can I take back this thing they took from me? Can I go back to the concert hall and see the music I love? Can I tolerate people and make my children smile?

Yes. I can.