I was ready to have to scrape the smog off my windshield every morning and evening. I was ready to dress for work and iron my shirts and come home at the end of the day covered in soot, covered head to toe, clean only where my sunglasses, now black and unnavigable, protected me. Like a coal miner, in a carefully ironed shirt. Toronto, shit.
But I like it.
The pollution is gross. The sky is yellow and grey and brown and dirty. The sky is dirty all the way round-the weekend forecast is for "hazy," which I didn't know was a forecast until I moved here. The city had its first heat warning the other day, on the ninth day of smog warnings in the last two months. You can't see the CN Tower clearly on a sunny day after a rainstorm, and you can't see the miles of suburbs that roll on in every direction, all the same, or the houses next to the roaring highway that burns through the endless miles in the hot, dusty, sweaty air. No one leaves Toronto. Toronto goes on forever, sprawling, tense and important, waiting to get to the cottage (do we even have cottages in B.C.?), working so hard to get ahead and put a down payment on a million-dollar house that's rundown and near the highway, enveloped in the Megacity. All those suburbs whose names I know, rolling on forever.
But once you're inside it, it's different. The smog doesn't really exist on a street level-you can hardly see it, really, unless you try to see the horizon or something. The traffic's not so bad, even with the nonstop construction everywhere, and the heat's not bad when I'm at work because it's climate-controlled.
I like it. I miss Vancouver, but it feels so far and small, so small, with no electric billboards-why didn't we ever think of electric billboards?-and we don't even have a CN Tower, and the mountains get so old, and there are beaches here, too, except it turns out you can actually develop film in Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie catches fire sometimes, and they closed half the beaches last week because the E. coli got swollen up by the heat, and to top it off there's no four-litre milk jugs, only bagged milk, which leaks and you always have to change, which is such a pain.
But I'm getting used to it.
I'm far away from home now. I can't see you, there in Vancouver, through the haze, behind the mountains. You're so far away, and here I am, paying one thousand dollars a month for a one-bedroom, protected by miles and miles of the Megacity, safe, cradled in its arms, far from the rest of Canada, which seems so small, remote, tiny. I drive to work every day, through the heat, windows down, with the sweaty air swirling in lazily, and I might worry about my shirt getting wrinkled by my seatbelt. But I've adjusted. The Megacity is like its own country, and it holds me, grasps me tightly around my chest and keeps me warm. Yeah, I'm sweating, but the cough's not so bad any more, and the cn Tower sure is pretty on the days when it's clear. I can almost see the horizon some days, when I remember to look. Now that I'm here it seems important to be here. I'm getting used to it, and you would too, if you were here. You wouldn't think it was so bad.