Bright Lights, Big City

Last night I drove in to Toronto for a jazz rehearsal with the military unit there. If you aren’t familiar with Canadian cities, Toronto is the biggest city in Canada, and according to Google has a population of just over 2.6 million. The city is mind-boggling with how big it is, the huge, winding highways. I can’t even contemplate having that many people within one space. Well, on the drive in I was doing okay, despite being on 6 lanes of people driving 120 km/h. But as soon as I got in the city and was still on a highway, I started panicking and worrying I would get lost. Well, I made it to my destination alright, and because of my getting-lost time I added to my trip, ended up being almost an hour early.

The real fun happened when I left. I had a GPS, and thought it would help me to get home alright. Unfortunately, I got lost for over half an hour, and it started the second I left the parking lot and went in the wrong direction. Then I was on multiple different highways, tired and just wanting to get home. There is nothing worse than feeling like you just want to go home, especially when you’re lost and alone.

Of course, as soon as I started to realize how hopelessly lost I was, I started feeling all sorts of other things. My brain can’t just accept that I took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong highway, and that I just need to find a way to turn around and it will be okay. No, my brain starts asking me questions I don’t have answers to. Things like, “why did you come here?”, “serves you right for getting lost. You’re terrible at directions.”, and “you don’t belong here. Why are you so far from home?”. Just like that I started questioning everything I have made my life become with this move. And most of all, I just started to feel really, really homesick.

Getting lost in such a huge city made me realize a few things though. First off, I decided I’m very glad that when I moved to this province I went to Hamilton, not to Toronto. It is just too stressful to drive in that city, and I can’t imagine living there. I didn’t know it’s possible for an entire city to make you feel claustrophobic, but I did. I felt trapped. Second, it made me rethink the things in my life that bother me most. Trivial things like having a tiny room in a basement to live in, or worries about where my career is going. It was a humbling experience to know that I’m such a tiny piece of even this part of the puzzle. Why let the little things I can’t change bother me? And third, I realized how lucky I am. I have an awesome job that let’s me do cool gigs like play a big band gig for a thousand important people this weekend. I forget how cool these things are, because we do cool things like that quite a bit compared to most other jobs.

So next time I get lost somewhere and start to feel far from home, I’ll make sure to look at the brighter side, and know that this might not be perfect, but I’m still glad I did this for myself.


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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

2 responses to “Bright Lights, Big City”

  1. Al Kline says :

    In the early 1980’s, I was on the back of a friends motorcycle going through the highways of Toronto at about 100 mph. It scared the hell out of me, thought I was going to fall off any minute. I do remember how beautiful the city was though.

  2. Jason Buckley says :

    GPS has made drivers overall worse at driving! I remember even just ten years ago, I could go somewhere once, even in a big city, and remember how to get there. Now we practically have to use GPS just to be able to get to the store down the street! Then the GPS still makes it hard to find!

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