I like to think that I can be ‘big-city’ people. That I can be surrounded by cement and never really see the golden hours of sunset and that I don’t need silence and space. Because big cities mean mad graffiti walls and a million coffee shops and eclectic people and poetry culture and Urban indigenous spaces and yeah, a million little things to make me think I can be city.
However, I know me. I like visiting. I like driving in and throwing my stuff around and making mad plans to fill every spare second, then moving on. I can only survive so long with a million other people. I need my land. I need my trees. I need my space.
But it’s still good to pretend.
In mid-October, I went to Toronto en route to Guelph for a work-trip. My last trip to Toronto did me pretty well – oh, memories – and this time, my bestie Erica was living there, which makes the city that much more hospitable. Add to that, Joi was in town, being amazing, so I rented out the boujiest and trendiest Airbnb loft I could justify – and I regret nothing.
We had a red velvet couch.
And a stocked bar.
Shit was legit.
We spent two full days in Toronto – and we managed to pack in a lot of moments. In between an insane amount of selfies, we visited a fancy sushi bar with Joi, I did headshots for Nadya, we feasted at Kokum’s Kitchen with Aura and Mitch, Chief Lady Bird, and Michaella. We then busted in on an awards show after-party with Joi (yayyyy) and reclaimed a massive amount of candy and baby-poutines for the after-after-party. Where we also ordered $60 dollars worth of poutine.
Again, we regret nothing.
Before leaving town to head to Guelph, slightly hung over, we went to Tea N Bannock (how could we not!) and it was everything that is good in the world. They made us fried baloney and eggs and toasted bannock.
They speak my love language.
All joking aside, spending that time in Toronto was special to me. I know that it isn’t a city where I can thrive, but to be able to look around and see the relations and memories I have made in that space, it makes it much more welcoming. I’ll be bringing my daughter for a few days in July, and I can’t wait to show her around.
But me, I was heading to Guelph to photograph the Kika’ige Historical Society’s performance at The University of Guelph’s “Canada 150 Symposium: Reflect and Envision.” But it was also to hang out with one of my best friends, Dr. Luby (I’m so ridiculously proud of her and all her accomplishments). Brittany and I go way back – we met in 2008 at UBC in an Indigenous creative writing class. We’ve been fast friends since then, but the last time we hung out in person was in 2010. So I made sure that we had a couple days in Guelph for work and play.
Funny story – I had actually applied to the UofG’s Creative Writing MFA program way back in the day. I did not get in, ha. But It was a really great vibe in the city – Erica and I both felt like we could breathe.
While in Guelph, I got to read some #IndianLovePoems and share stage with Janet Marie Rogers and Kahsenniyo Tahnee Williams. It was suchhhhhhh a beautiful night for me. Janet had wrote this book called Red Erotic and finding a copy of this is near-impossible. Once people have it, they don’t let go. I finally just asked her where I could find a copy, and she happened to have one on hand. Imagine my very excited and awkward dance now – it’s happening. And listening to the words and storytelling of Kahsenniyo was so powerful.
The event also lead to me meeting some amazing new friends, and a few crazy videos.
In between the late nights of laughter (so healing) and the mornings of playing with make up and accessories, we managed to find some time here and there to work on our emails and editing. A cute little coffee shop with free wifi is just we need.
Erica and I both ‘jokingly‘ looking into working/studying in Guelph now.
The last leg of our adventure was an overnight at Walpole Island for a family session of my bestie Tiffany and her family, as well as a poetry reading of #IndianLovePoems. Walpole was the first community to host a full reading of my collection – before it was even a fully formed idea – and I will be forever grateful for that. So much good laughter and support in that community. While there, we also managed some headshots of Erica – because we need wide open space and light and natural lands – before heading back that night to Toronto.
That 4-hour road trip was filled with Disney songs, rap battles and one Starbucks stop.
Driving back into the Toronto airport and dropping off my car rental (such, such chaos) was bittersweet. While I was anxious to get home – I had to go trick or treating with my baby – ending an adventure always makes me wish I had relaxed more, done less, just let the day take me, blah blah blah. I walk away exhausted from these trips, but also, at least on this one, creatively charged.
In between the artists, the graduate students, the moms, the professors – this was an amazing trip for femme kinship. Indigenous country is so full of powerful women, and I’m blessed to call many of them friends.
Onto the next adventure…
tkaronto: place where trees stand in the water. (via) // bkejwanong: where the waters divide. It is unceded territory and is inhabited by the Anishinaabe, Potawatomi, and Odawa peoples of the Walpole Island First Nation. (via)