Thursday, July 20, 2006

Connecting

Laura K.'s blog, We Move to Canada, is the reason I'm here in the blogosphere myself. I started reading it in May of 2005, and found it so compelling, I wanted to participate. In having a blog ID, I figured I might as well have a blog.

Laura and SO Allan moved to Canada in August last year. Not too long ago, they had a get-together at their home in Port Credit (central lakeshore of Mississauga, west of Toronto). I didn't attend because by nature, I'm not big on crowds of people I don't know. But Laura and Allan were kind enough to extend an invitation to me to visit them, and last night, I dropped in.

The end of Elmwood Avenue

The neighbourhood in which they now make their home is idyllic, to my mind. Their street is short, relatively free of traffic, and dead-ends in a pretty little treed parkette right at the water's edge, where the water slaps enthusiastically against the stonework retaining walls as if the lake itself were trying to jump up and have a look around.

The Lake jumps up to look around

Home in Port Credit

Their house is set on a large lot with a breathtaking backyard of generous depth, a wonderland of grass in summer and the promise of snowy romps in winter. When they showed me around their home, which I was informed was built in the 1950s, I was impressed by how different the building standards have become since then. Their home is cozy, compactly laid out without being cramped; its design is sensible, and gives one the glorious impression of being twice the size inside as it appears on the outside... a residential TARDIS at rest in suburban Toronto. Having spent most of my life in homes built on more "modern" sensibilities, it occurred to me that homes back then were built with human beings in mind, rather than abstract aesthetics. By this I mean, each home was an individual craftwork, a statement of need, practicality, and utility; designed according to the needs of a person, his/her family, and their human activities. You have three kids? You need this many rooms, this many wash spaces, this much storage, these places to sit, talk, eat, play. A house then was designed around a family, for a family, like a suit of clothes tailored to the man, rather than something loose and vaguely sloppy, the one-size-fits-all (and-then-some) of today's tract monsters. It had genuine, warm appeal, and had I been a child in the 1950s, it's the kind of place I would have liked to have grown up.

Port Credit back yard

I was made to feel immediately at my ease, which is rare for me. We slipped into conversation as easily as old friends picking up an acquaintance after a gap of a month or two. I suppose this is partly attributable to our interactions online, but a lot of it is due to the nature of Laura's and Allan's personalities. They were open, kind, and made me feel they genuinely pleased to see me. We sat in the back yard and chatted over wine, one interesting topic, one new intriguing fact or commonality after another, as easy and fun as rolling down a hillside. I was fed on corn on the cob, gazpacho, thick steak and sweet strawberries, and when at last the light faded, we continued in their sitting room. Photographs and maps were shown, atlases opened, the peculiarities of the border discussed. My stay lasted till after midnight, but never once was I made to feel I ought to leave; it's nice when a guest has the opportunity to relieve his hosts of their obligations while he still feels welcome.

I've always enjoyed sharing company with Laura and Allan (et al., of course) on WMTC. But I drove home convinced it's even better to share their company in person, and I hope I'll have the opportunity to do so again.

1 comment:

L-girl said...

LP, thank you so much for this. I'm so touched. Hooray for making the leap from online friends to in-real-life friends.

When you left, we realized that we were perhaps remiss, after all the drinking, to see you just take off to the roads at midnight. We thought we should have offered you the air mattress. I hope you didn't have a hard time getting home. I hate driving at night after drinking, urban girl that I am at heart.

I feel tremendously fortunate to have such an idyllic home, and friends to share it with - more than I can express. So thanks for being part of that.

Also, I didn't know you started blogging after finding wmtc! How cool.