My City

March 21, 2010 at 8:45 pm (My City) (, , )

You grow up in a small town and you are aware that there are cities out there. The others, the ones who left, the brave, the exotic – they live in the cities. Where anonymity is guaranteed and not everyone knows your name (and family and background and what you’re doing, what you’ve been up to – and horrors, even what you’re thinking!)

“The City” was where everything was happening, where you had to go for the extras life required. You went to school in the small town but you went to study home economics and shop in the city because their school was big enough to provide the extras. The doctor, the eye doctor and the dentist were all in the city. The city had exotic fruits and vegetables, better books and magazines, and a wider shopping range. It wasn’t always better but there was definitely more.

For those of us without a car the school was our gateway to the city. There were field trips, sport tournaments, science fairs and museums in the city. We went to Prince Albert to the ice cream factory – I’ll be honest all I remember of that trip is the free ‘sicle we got for the bus ride home. We went to Regina to see the government in action, to visit the museum and to go to Sask-tel. Their most recent innovation that year was a phone that let you see who you were talking to in actual time – it never happened. What we got instead were webcams and camera phones.

We went to Saskatoon to hear the Symphony. We were older and allowed an hour to visit the mall and on the way home the bus got a flat and we waited for hours on the highway for a new bus and didn’t get home until eleven p.m.

There are many cities near where I grew up. Melfort was where we went to go to the doctors (eye, health, teeth). Humboldt was where our grandparents took us shopping because it was the closest city to them. Prince Albert was where my stepmother’s family was so I was only there when Dad was there. Regina was just out there somewhere. When I think of “The City” the city that springs to my mind is Saskatoon.

Saskatoon. City of Bridges. Saskatoon where my eldest sister and I have gone to the Fringe Festival for most of the last ten years. Saskatoon with the Ex and the Western Development Museum and the river. Saskatoon. City of my heart. Saskatoon where I just moved back to.

Why Saskatoon? This is the city we wanted to run away to when we were young. This is the city that my thirteen-year-old best friend was allowed to come to on day trips by herself. This is the city where my older sister went to university. This is the city we all lived in when we finally left home. It is our city of opportunity. The Promised Land. Nirvana. Utopia. Home.

It is the city that prepared me for bigger cities. The first time I left here I went to Calgary, then on to Montreal. Because I had lived in Saskatoon I knew about buses and libraries and suburbs and malls and crowds.

Cities are different from small towns. Yes, I know that is obvious. The size difference alone is noticeable. But the people are also different, and each city is different. I move back to the city after being in a small town and I have to unlearn habits. I can’t let myself be stopped by anyone and everyone to talk – which I do in a small town. Because in a small town it’s something to do when there is nothing to do. Because it would be wrong to ignore someone and maybe hurt their feelings. Because it is how small towns are.

Why Saskatoon? Why do I love this city? I love the culture, both high and low (the Fringe, the Ex, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, the Mendel, the street fairs in the summer). I love the bridges. The way they span the river. I love the river. Walking to the Weir in the summer. Crossing the bridge on a cold winter morning, walking and admiring the ice fog as it drifts upwards. The messy Spring runoff. The leaves in the Fall. I love it all.

This city is where I’ve always come to get my book fix. It’s Nirvana for a literary junkie like myself. I’m not the only one who feels like this – the Saskatoon Public Library has the third highest circulation in all of Canada. When I came in before I moved here and the first time I lived here, the Saskatoon Bookstore was my main connection. Now, after moving back, I try to keep my trips to McNally Robinson down to once a month. I’m not kidding when I joke about being addicted to words.

I fell in love in this city and got divorced in this city. I started working in this city and have been unemployed in this city. I’ve laughed and I’ve wept and I’ve left and I’ve come back.

This city is as much me as the blood that runs through my veins. I breathe in this city and I love this city and this city is home.

This city, as Goldilocks would say, is not too cold or too hot, too small or too big, too soft or too hard. It is just right.

Saskatoon. City of my heart, hope and dreams.

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1 Comment

  1. halloween spirit said,

    Great post. I feel the same way about Halifax 🙂

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