Hot in the city

I have a love-hate relationship with the city in which I live. Family back home think I’m mental for choosing to live in a place that is cold pretty much eight months of the year. That makes me sob in misery during its inhospitable -20 degree days. That has me asking them to describe the sensation of warm sun on skin, it’s been so long that I can’t remember.

I can’t deny any of these things.

And yet, when July rolls around and all memories of winter melt away like the ice cream clutched in my happy, sticky hand, a switch is flicked and suddenly I’m an ambassador for the city. Me and Toronto: we’re pals.

Summer sunset over Toronto city streets

Put simply, Toronto comes to life in the summer. We may have to wait a very, very long time for it to happen, but when it arrives — even before it arrives, as those who start eagerly donning shorts & tees in chilly April will attest — we’re programmed to make the most of every last minute.

Neighbourhood festivals pop up every weekend, restaurants and bars start squeezing patio space out of whatever precious sidewalk they can steal, and BBQ parties become a weekly staple. Open-air markets take over city squares, and you can’t turn a corner downtown without stumbling onto the set of the next Hollywood blockbuster (I’m pretty sure I’ve been an accidental extra in about three films this past month). There’s an energy in the air that seems impossible to avoid. GOOD TIMES MUST BE HAD, it declares. And who are we to disobey?

When we first arrived in the city, four years ago, we couldn’t understand why people would be willing to stand in line for what seemed like an eternity just to grab an outdoor table at the pub. Dude, we don’t do queues, we’d scoff in disbelief while heading inside. By the time the next summer rolled round, we were the ones in line, counting down the minutes till we had our very own seats in the sun.

We get it now. If you’re not out and about enjoying well over your daily recommended vitamin D allowance, frankly, you’re just not doing it right.

Some people complain about Toronto’s humidity. Not me. My favourite summer evenings are those deliciously moist nights when you can skip merrily out the house with nary a thought of a cardigan or scarf to cover up. The intense mugginess is like a sweaty, comforting embrace, whispering “Shhh, it’s okay now, I’m here. Forget all about the ice and snow, that was just a bad, bad dream.”

And for a couple of joy-filled months, it really does feel like a dream. As these last few weeks of summer slip by, I can feel that change is imminent. It’s all going to end soon, and where will I be left? I’d like to say I’ll have enough happy summer memories to carry me through the winter, and I won’t start cursing Toronto when the trees are bare and the sidewalks slippery with ice. But I know what I’m like. I guess all I can do is apologize in advance for my inevitable winter moaning.

Sorry Toronto. It can only ever be a June-to-September relationship. I admit it: I’m the ultimate definition of a fair-weather friend.

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