I lived in Parkdale, and then the good ol' Gay Village for a year or so each.
So whenever I'm back, I relive a lot of memories. And both places hold very different ones for me.
Being in The Village quite literally makes my stomach hurt. I do my best to shake it off, but it always happens. I made a lot of great friends and do have a lot of wonderful memories there. But the bad ones seem to always take over and haunt me. It's brought me to tears more than once, just by being there.
It's pretty difficult to be in The Village without seeing my old apartment building, and that just makes things worse. There's a lot of pain associated with those streets and familiar places. Really vivid memories and feelings that will hopefully fade over time. Unfortunately, they're mixed with new ones and new information and new realizations. For all the love and happiness and good times, it was pain I felt when I left.
My chest is tightening, just thinking about it.
But then there's Parkdale. Oh, the west end.
Every time I'm walking up Queen West, or having a 50 with friends at The Rhino, I literally feel at home. It feels familiar and comfortable, and I tend to see a lot of familiar faces.
Parkdale reminds me of a new start, because it's the first Toronto neighbourhood I lived in. It's where I first visited C, first made all of my Toronto friends, and where I became somebody different. I built a new life there, with a new family and circle around me.
Parkdale had its hardships; many of them. Nothing was ever easy for us. But I feel so much better there. Hopeful.
I feel like me. A stronger me.
And that's why I always say that when I move back to Toronto (which, again, will hopefully be soon), I'm headed straight for the west end. People like to give me flack for it; they don't understand why.
But it's about being happy.
And I want to be where I feel good.
I honestly cannot wait to feel good again, for longer than a fleeting moment.