August 1, 2011
“We’re going back to Barbados,” my mother announces. She says this as she stands in her kitchen, wearing beige capris, black t-shirt and slippers. She is suburbia incarnate. She says it surrounded by dishes my dad has dirtied but refused to wash. She says this as the radio, which has been tuned to one station for the past 21 years, blasts the CBC news at six. She says, “We’re going back to Barbados,” with a big smile on her face, as her hand rhythmically lathers her homemade concoction of diluted dish soap and freshly squeezed lemon, specially made to “cut the grease” on the dirty dishes.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table, eating fried bakes with cheese, pulling the gooey dough apart, popping it in my mouth. I’m sitting there eating and my mother is so distracted by her thoughts of Barbados, she makes no comment about the food in my mouth. She doesn’t stare at me with her large round eyes, she doesn’t peer at me slowly, letting her eyes roll over me up and down. She doesn’t poke or prod me, shaking her head and saying what I already know—“You really need to lose weight.” She doesn’t pinch my waist or lean toward me to whisper, “See, you’re jiggling, you really REALLY need to lose some weight.”
Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 5. Purchase the book to read the full piece.
Toronto locations referenced in this piece
“I would wait for her to appear and smile. More often than not, she wasn’t there. “Those people are crooks,” she would say referring to the airport parking authority . . . ” —Pearson International Airport
“They always wanted the best for us. It’s what led my mother to convince my dad it was a good idea to buy a house in Jane and Finch . . . ” —Jane & Finch
“We would wait and wait for an opening, because there were no traffic lights in front of 2901 Jane Street. Then we would run across the street as fast as we could, to wait for the bus that would take us to the Wilson subway station . . . ” —Wilson Subway Station
“From there, it was on to Union Station. At Union the doors to the double-decker train would open and our adventure would begin . . . ” —Union Station
“And so my parents picked up and moved to Vaughan, close enough to Jane and Finch to still be a part of it, but far enough away to never have to be . . . ” —Vaughan