Our time so far in Toronto has given me a new set of perspectacles. Here, my friends, is a list of some the things in Toronto that have had an impact on how I view my life and the much larger world.
-Cars. I drive a truck, Drew drives a truck, most people I know have at least one truck in their family. We say it's for travel, comfort, hauling and driving in bad weather. In Toronto the vast majority of people drive cars or small SUVs... and many of those are hybrids. While there are exceptions, most of the trucks that I've seen in the Toronto area are work trucks. They drive these trucks because there is need for them. Real need. In the absence of honest need for such a vehicle, they choose vehicles that are more environmentally friendly, more easily maneuverable in this traffic & the crowded streets and fit the number of people that must ride in them. These annoying little cars that shut themselves off everytime you stop actually meet the needs of the drivers... not their egos or inflated sense of need.
-Shopping. In the suburbs there are large stores like Walmart where, I assume, people shop like my fellow Arkansans for everything they could need plus some. In the city it is different. I have very much enjoyed observing this lifestyle from the front lines... or the side walks. There are many different shops and none of them are a one stop shop. There are drug stores for medications and hygeine products. There are pet stores for all your pets needs. There are clothing stores. There are produce shops, quaint little natural food stores and local grocers. There are shops for home needs such as linens. Perhaps these people don't need big trucks and oversized SUVs because they walk to the store down the street, buy what they need and walk back home. What a concept. Buying what you need and what you can carry.
-Walking. Not everyone drives everywhere. One of Drew's clients here lives in the city with his wife. They both sold their vehicles and purchased a Prius. They only drive it on the weekends to get out of the city and every other time they either walk, ride bikes or take public transit to get where they are going. The public transportation is fabulous. Lots of people walk, lots of people take busses, trains and the subway. I have no statistical proof of this, but it seems to me that people here aren't nearly as fat. How could they be, with all the walking? What a novel idea! I mean, my cute little house in Arkansas is less than one mile from the closest Walmart superstore and never once have I walked there. I would have to walk in the ditch down the side of a highway and then cross another highway to get there. That's absurd. It's absurd that I don't walk and it's absurd that there isn't something as simple as a sidewalk that would allow me to safely do so. In Fayetteville the Target and Kohl's share a large parking lot. I'm ashamed to say that more often than not, if I have to go in both stores, I will actually get in my truck and drive to the other side of the parking lot so that I don't have to walk all the way back across to get back to my truck. That's humiliating to admit. I love the walking here. Love it. The sidewalks are ample, the crosswalks are safe and the experience of using your feet to walk instead of press the gas pedal is pretty wonderful.
-Trash. Siloam Springs runs trash trucks to our house twice a week. Twice a week I can put out as much trash as I want and they come pick it up. It magcially disappears and I don't give it another thought. Once a week the recylcling truck runs and picks up my bin. I feel pretty cool when I have so much to recycle that it won't all fit in the bin. How vain is that? In Toronto (and I'm sure many other cities in the world) recycling is just what you do. I have seen very few trash cans here that don't have at least half of the can seperated for items to be recycled. In town, in the subway, even in my hotel room. It's just the way it is and I like it.
-Style. There are so many different cultures and nationalities represented in this city and I find it incredibly refreshing. Everyone doesn't look the same and they don't seem to be trying to. Oh, the diversity is awesome. If there is a cookie cutter here then I haven't found it. I feel more confident in who I am because everyone is so different and unique. They are them and I am me and everyone seems perfectly satisfied with that.
My perspectacles, courtesy of the Toronto Metropolitan Area, have inspired me to do a few things differently when I get home. I own the fact that I drive a truck because I like it. I could just as easily survive in a Prius, so the best and only justification for having a truck is simply to own that it is my personal preference. I'm going to walk more. Not just for the sake of exercise, but to get where I'm going. It's honestly not practical to walk everywhere in the world I live in, but it is quite possible in many situations. I will try to up my game when it comes to shopping locally and buying what I need instead of all that is at my fingertips. I will continue to recycle (and try to be more diligent) and do it with the attitude that it is my responsiblity to the environment that I've been blessed with, not that I'm special for participating. I will try to embrace the style that is Mandy, acknowledging that fitting into an every changing trend or "should" attitude is a big, fat, stressful bore.
Can I get a perspectacle amen?
Continuing on my mission of experiencing different parts of the city, we are going to Kensington Market later today. When Drew returns from his meetings and wraps up the emails, phone calls, etc. that needed tending then we will spend the evening riding the subway to what is said to be quite the Bohemian, vintage, sustainable stye place to be. Who knows, maybe we will even find ourselves walking a bit further to get a glimpse of Chinatown.