Eighty-seven. That doesn’t directly answer the above question. I think 87 was my resting heart rate some days at my last job in Hogtown (Toronto). Also, 1987 was a fantastic year at university; I had so much fun. But the new association I have in mind is much less fun than parties every weekend.
I’m thinking again of my life before June of last year.
Eighty-seven is the year I often joked would be my retirement age; that is, if I had stayed in Toronto, where the cost of living was going up faster than developers could say “condo” – and certainly at a higher rate than my income. Looking ahead, I knew that retiring in Toronto would be a long shot costing thousands per month. An apt description of what I envisioned was that of a blank screen, except for one unsettling image of myself as a lonely octogenarian, hunched in a strained shuffle against -25 C wind chills at busy intersections where even the young and nimble-footed take their lives into their hands.
When friends and acquaintances, and even my financial advisor, would ask what my plans were, I often responded with my favourite dark quip: “Oh, work until death and call it a day.” Of course, such an approach requires one has some measure of control over one’s own death. Mind you, 20 or 30 years from now assisted suicide may be as easy as booking a flight online is today. Imagine www.we’resodonehere.com, for example. Why lose sleep over stretching your pension and savings? Just check out. Problem solved! Yeah, I think most of us would agree that this is not the ideal or family-friendly option.
But there’s more. There is always more when it comes to existential angst. So buckle in for some more high-quality Western (hemisphere) whining. Money aside,we should not forget the factors leading to so much of our stress and dissatisfaction and ennui: weather and lifestyle. We’re Canadian, so let’s tear into the weather first. This one is always a riot.
A friend of mine once described Toronto weather as a couple of deranged kidnappers. One moment they feed you warm sunny conversation and pretend to be your friend, and the next they beat the metaphorical soles of your feet with cold wind, sleet, hail, or snow. And you never know what will set your captors off, as the cold Arctic and hot Gulf of Mexico clash and scream outside your cell – sorry, I meant your 600 square foot condo. It’s an easy mistake to make.
Of course, that cacophony I always heard might also have been the sound of misaligned joints grinding out remaining cartilage as the cursed humidity from East Texas sparked an orthopaedic mutiny in my body. If you’re from Southern Ontario and have had any sports injuries, you’ll know what I mean. And then there is the grating din of TTC street cars — or the rumble and screech of the many, many, many cars making their soul-syphoning 80-minute commutes.
I’m tired just thinking about it. So let’s save Toronto’s notorious congestion and commuting misery for the next post. Happy stuff, eh? Don’t worry, it gets cheerier eventually. You may even see a bit of yourself in this tale of transformation. So hang with me.
Until next time….