Escape from the ordinary

I could happily live in a hotel room for a very long time. Wi-fi. Coffee-maker. Someone else to pick up the dropped towel, make the unmade bed, clean the forgotten dish, find the lost shoe. If not for worry over extravagant expense, I could be very happy in just that few hundred square feet of care-free space — the plumbing, the wiring, the lighting all someone else’s worry, the well-equipped restaurant just above street level, the pool in the basement, the car tucked in the garage, the hot-tub on the roof.

That’s right. I said hot-tub on the roof. In Canada. In late November. Kate dared us Friday night and so we went. The night was clear, and we could see stars poking through the light pollution. And the lights that polluted were dazzling. The breeze kicked up the bubbling hot water turning it into icy mist that stung our faces. Exhilarating, and after a day of walking in the city, absolutely restorative.

Thanksgiving is my favorite of the US holidays. Take away the seemingly endless rounds of college football and the cultural insistence that we shop ’til we drop the next day and I’d like it even better. Partly to escape the latter, partly because my family is celebrating today instead of Thursday (four family members were in Haiti all week building a school), and partly because we needed to get away from home for just a little bit, we booked two nights in our favorite hotel in Toronto, confined Carmen the dog to a local pet hostel (the most difficult task, really — I nearly forgot to reserve a place for her, and then could not face taking her there when the time came) and drove for the border Thanksgiving morning.

We lunched at Ikea on the way where we bought Kate a duvet, checked in at our hotel early where Kate and Bruce swam, and hopped on a streetcar on King Street headed for a bookstore and then dinner (The Old York Bar & Grill — highly recommend, even for vegetarians). By the time we caught the streetcar back to the hotel, we had our urban-legs on, and were gamely walking more than we do at home. The weather was warmish for November, even on Thursday, making the Canadians decked in their winter gear look a little oddly premature. They were dressed more in sync with the weather on Friday which was crystal clear and in the low 60s.

On Friday we headed to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde exhibition where I sat in front of this and this for a good long while. Also enjoyable: Seeing multiple works by Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov (wife and husband) side by side, paintings by Sonia Delaunay about which previously I had only read, and delicious little landscapes from early in the career of Wassily Kandinsky.

I came to the conclusion on our way to the gallery that my wardrobe has shifted a little too far from the urban uniform of blacks and greys since leaving NYC. However, we apparently blended in well enough to be mistaken for natives more than once, and I enjoyed looking as though I routinely spell flavor and color with superfluous Us, had more than once sampled poutine and knew my way around the loons, toons and shiny bright colo(u)rs of the currency. And then we blew our cover to pieces by heading to the CN Tower and paying for the ride up to the stunning view from on high.

We ate excellent Indian food, good Thai food, and walked endlessly. Bruce sampled a few excellent beers, I knit and knit, Kate read and acted teenagerly. The car sat in the garage the whole two days (for an exorbitant sum) and we did not miss it. We listened to, watched and participated in the rich urban life that flowed around us, and it was very good.


About pattiblaine

Raised under the name of Snyder in the upstate NY town of Vestal, I've worked as a typesetter, a fast food salad bar tender, an art reviewer, a waitress, a part-time nanny, and a very-bad-with-phones temp. Once upon a time I was all-but-thesis toward a Masters in Art History. Now I'm just a mom with a lot of fiber squirreled away throughout the house. We call it insulation. In 2013 I completed a life-long learning program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and am a postulant toward the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In addition to coordinating volunteers for the soup kitchen, I volunteer as a tutor at a deeply impoverished city elementary school, and am a docent at the Memorial Art Gallery.
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