Reflections on moving to the Far East

23 Sep

scarborough_spacing_buttonWhen I got the keys to our new place a week ago, it marked the beginning of a lot of things: the start of life as a home owner, for one.  Among the other firsts is a biggie: by the end of the month, I will no longer call Little Italy home.  Home will be the Far East.  Home will be Scarborough.

To put this in perspective, I have never in 20-going-on-30-odd years of Toronto dwelling, resided east of Yonge Street.  Born more or less at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor, I am a serious downtowner/Westender (admittedly, not quite as hardcore as my mother, who believes the boundaries of Toronto are Dufferin, Eglinton, Greektown and the lake).  A story I often tell is how wonderful it was as a kid going to an elementary school that had an atypical catchment area consisting of the whole city of Toronto.  My classmates and friends were bussed in from High Park, Regent Park, Cabbagetown, Rosedale, the Danforth, the Beaches, or Dufferin Grove.  Yet as broad a sense of the city as this might have impressed upon me, these were nevertheless pre-Mega City years and Scarborough was not really on my radar.

Enter my now fiancé, who was born in Calgary, raised in Scarborough and more recently lived in Pickering.  In the time we’ve known each other I’ve been on more GO Train rides than I care to count, and have a clearer picture of what it looks like east of Victoria Park.  So it was a little less of a mental shift when this past summer we began our house hunt, and decided to focus our search on the east end, knowing that this was a more affordable area than the downtown and that many of our friends and family have settled in the area.

With Warden Ave.—our closest main street—filled to the T with these so-called ‘power centres,’ it’s not exactly the compact urban landscape I’m used to and have grown to love about the downtown.  It’s only been a few days since we took possession of the home, so I suppose it’s natural that the “look” of the neighbourhood still feels a little foreign to me.

But it’s not all difficult adjustments.  I appreciate that there is a sense of newness and of possibility around here, and the beginnings of what feels like community to me.  On our first day at the place, spent scrubbing out the fridge and removing old MACTac from shelving, we had a knock at the door.  A neighbour from down the street had come by to introduce herself and to offer us some tomatoes fresh from her garden.  She told us about a shortcut to the nearest grocery store.  I’ve emailed a local badminton club about joining up (having decided to retire from my too-brief soccer career after spraining an ankle) and emailed the Scarborough Arts Council to request updates on local events and activities.  It helps, too, that we have family around the corner: our new home is located minutes from where my fiancé’s grandmother has lived for about 40 years.

A few times in the lifespan of this blog (notwithstanding the fact that I’ve been an absent author for many months), I have chastised myself for only referring to downtown and westerly things.  So here’s hoping this cross-town move results in an expansion of my Toronto palette, perhaps inspiring some new thoughts on this fair city.

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