Hello, Neighbour: Homeward-bound

This piece was selected to be part of Hello, Neighbour, a community engagement project that takes six pieces of writing from residents of Toronto, and uses them as inspiration for six new works by local artists.

Join us Saturday Feb. 23rd, 2019 2-5pm for a day of performances by the artists, hosted by Nana aba Duncan of CBC’s Fresh Air.

This event is FREE, click here to reserve your spot on Eventbrite!

 

HOMEWARD-BOUND by Harriet Kim

Sometimes, I joke that there is nothing that unifies Torontonians quite like complaining about public transit but there is something about being in transit (literally and figuratively) that feels like the most honest way to describe this city. Last year, I started taking a few notes – it turns out, it is an amazing thing how much I was able to reflect on this city during my commutes.

29 Dufferin Northbound bus: 6:30A.M. on a Saturday, I question, “where is everyone going at this hour?” I wonder if others on the bus wonder the same thing about me. There are always a couple of people in scrubs and I can’t imagine what that kind of work schedule must demand.

26 Dupont Westbound bus: September 2018 is my first time, at least in my memory, taking this bus. It’s not a big deal but I wonder just how much of this city I haven’t seen?

504 King Westbound streetcar: During this snow storm, I decide this may be the worst streetcar to take during rush hour – there is only so much time I am willing to stand outside in the cold and in the snow, and only so many streetcars I am willing to let pass before I make the resolution to squish onto the next streetcar. I squeeze my way into the middle of the crowd and the smell of all our damp winter coats is overwhelming.

24 Victoria Park Northbound bus: Getting from my starting location to my end destination takes over an hour and a half. With my head buried in my notebook, this neighbourhood seems unremarkable to me, maybe aside from the bright red and yellow coloured trees, and I question why.

501 Queen Westbound streetcar: I think about how I am literally moving through this city while thinking about my family’s history and the wealth of opportunities I am afforded in this city. I think about all those who came before me and I wonder, as I carry generations of hopes, dreams, grief, pain, trauma, for me to be here as I am…is this the kind of freedom my ancestors had imagined for someone like me in this city, this country, this year?

506 College streetcars: There are very specific 5-minute windows during rush hour that you can take the streetcar comfortably, or the very least, get a seat…that is, if you live far west enough.

The storefronts keep changing. The fried chicken place at College and Lippincott is new. There was something at the corner of College and Robert, but it is now empty – what was it?

Is there anything better than live music on the streets and other people’s cute dogs in this city during the summer??

There is something uniquely wonderful about bus stops and the ways people interact with each other in these particular spaces – when you see friends and family and romantic partners hugging hello and goodbye as people get on and off the bus, when you see young folks help elders carry their belongings on and off the streetcar, when you see a child excitedly pay bus fare or push the ‘stop request’ button.

The days and the transit rides blur together. There is a kind of elusive, fleeting, ephemeral characteristic to the small moments I bear witness to, but I am always reassured that people will always do what it takes to make this city home.