By Josephine Boxwell
Acclimatizing; adjusting to the city’s cool temperature. Sleeping in a room that isn’t mine in a neighbourhood I don’t belong to. The first night I lie awake, processing everything that is new. Exploring the streets and discovering how they are connected, during the day initially, then after the sun has disappeared and they become unfamiliar again.
Walking everywhere, passing food smells and exhaust fumes and unidentifiable stenches. Taking the time to check directions before stepping on transit, and still being confused when it stops because I haven’t been here before. Scouring listings and signing a lease, then preferring the other side of town and regretting snap decisions. Every neighbourhood has its own personality, partly on display, partly hidden, shifting with the waves of people moving in and out. Becoming familiar with the neighbourhoods, but not knowing the neighbours, or expecting to, ever. Most people choose to be strangers. Maintaining a suspicion of anyone who is unfriendly, or overly friendly.
Meeting the local wildlife; pigeons, cockroaches, rats, racoons, the creatures nature has disowned, thriving between the tarmac and the towers of concrete and glass. Greener streets have dogs with designer-looking jackets, often near people in need of jackets. Noticing extremes less and less until it all becomes normal.
Vying for space between the traffic and the pedestrians constantly pushing ahead. Eating out because there is no time to cook between commuting and working and commuting. There is no time in the city. Seeking out the busy places to get to the heart of this town and experience what people love about it. Getting lost along the quiet ones; trails, underpasses, alleyways. The stillness is comforting. Night comes, but it is never dark. It is not as cold as it was when I arrived, now that we know each other better.