Montrose Avenue, Toronto

The Most Important Day of My Life

When one looks back on one’s life, there are often special days that will jump out – wedding day, birthdays, etc. While I personally have fond memories of traditional days like these, another stands out for me most important of all – September 1, 1993. The day I moved to Toronto!

It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years already. This anniversary is particularly impactful for me because I sort of look at that day as the exact moment I became an adult. That’s not to say I went from being a child void of any life skills to becoming a well-oiled independent machine in one fell swoop.

Growing up in Ottawa under the care of loving parents, I had it very good. My mom worked at home so she had dinner ready for me every day I got home from school. I didn’t need to cook, clean, pay bills, etc. I did always have part-time jobs though and I worked hard at music.

But all the hard work in music and part-time jobs continued, even more, when I moved to Toronto and I had household duties on top of that. I did have 2 wonderful roommates that first year (one of which would later become my wife:)). And we supported each other as we were all new at being on our own for the first time in a big new city.

At 3am on September 1, 1993, my dad and I departed a quiet residential West Ottawa neighbourhood with a U-Haul full of stuff. I hugged my mom and we didn’t cry too much. (For some reason, I cried like a baby when I departed after Christmas vacation later that same year.) We departed that early to beat the Toronto morning traffic and have the day to unpack the truck. That was a pretty crazy move on our part…all I remember my dad saying all the way down the dark highway is “keep talking to me so I don’t fall asleep!” We arrived (safely) at 220 Montrose Ave. in the Little Italy section of Toronto around 7:30am. The 3 of us were to live on the 2nd and 3rd floor of a pretty nice detached house. Rent was reasonable, $1400/month – we split that 3 ways.

The move was very well organized and we got all of our stuff in that pretty small place. My dad and I returned the U-Haul at a nearby Toronto location then we went back to the house where one of my roommates’ mom was waiting to drive my dad and her back to Ottawa. When my dad left, I ran up to the 3rd-floor attic space and sobbed quietly. Even though I had 2 great roommates, I felt alone for some reason.

After a few minutes of quiet blubbering, I did pull myself together and starting unpacking and cleaning. School was to start in less than a week – there was no time to waste. Bell Canada was slow to get our phone connected so we had to walk to a pay phone in front of Sicilian Ice Cream those first few days to call home to let them know we were still alive. Lisa and Michelle walked to Regina Pizza to pick up dinner that first night – it tasted so good!

I hardly slept that first night. There was no air conditioning in that place so we needed to keep the windows open. The constant drone of car traffic and the dings of the streetcar on College St kept distracting me. I was so used to sleeping in a completely quiet house in suburban Ottawa.

But eventually, I got used to the energy and vibrancy of living in downtown Toronto. Once school started, it provided a distraction from living in the chaos of a big city. After a while, I came to love that vivacity. 25 years later, there’s a part of me that misses living downtown.

It’s sort of weird to remember every minute of a day that happened so long ago. But I guess I’ll never forget since it really is the most important day of my life. Everything that I achieved and everything that I have learned is due in large part to that day. Happy Anniversary to me!

Montrose Avenue, Toronto

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