A smidge of glamour

On Wednesday I took the train to Toronto. Not this train, mind you. This one just happened to be particularly photogenic.

Riding the train is genuinely more glamourous than riding the bus (not that the bus sets the bar very high). I didn’t even get sick (which usually happens to me on the bus). I read through the story I planned to read that evening. Tweaked my intro. Took some photos. Wondered where that road might lead. Napped.

My first destination was lunch with blogging friends, two of whom I’d never met in person (though it seemed like we already knew each other), and one who was a friend from grad school — we hadn’t seen each other in a decade. It amazed me how very much she was the same. And I remembered all the reasons I admired her — and that she was so much fun to be around. (Click on the photo above to get the full picture on Flickr; my importing system crops part of the right side out. And it’s such an awesome capture.)

Parenting tip: always bring a children’s illustrator along when you’re entertaining a child at a lunch that is mostly for adults. (Admittedly not usually an option. Not unless your group of friends happens to include a children’s illustrator.) Oh, and these women also all belong to the same book club, which sounds like it might rival my own poetry club for intense conversation (they’re called the Vicious Circle, which makes the writer in me quiver with fear and the reader in me quiver with excitement). I could have stayed at this lunch for many hours more. The fries weren’t half-bad either. I’m already plotting to go back to Toronto next month, whether or not any offical events get organized. Can I invite myself back? Please?

After lunch I walked south toward my publisher’s office, and met a friend at a park nearby. Also from grad school, whom I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Her youngest played in the sand while we caught up. No photos. I was slightly cursing the weight of the camera at this point in the adventure.

But I was glad I’d brought it when I met my sister in a coffee shop nearby. The light was beautiful. And isn’t she too? It had been years since we’d spent a leisurely afternoon together like that. See, I’ve got to come back!

At this point, I let the wind blow me to the Anansi offices where I freshened up, and signed books. I saw Sheila Heti coming in, and should have introduced myself (celebrity sighting number one). Kevin texted to say he was nearly there. I left in a hurry and we drove down to Harbourfront together. I changed in the back of the truck in the parking garage. Told you, nothing but glamour. And I applied makeup in a mall bathroom. And then we went to dinner.

There are no photos for awhile. Which I truly regret, because the setting for dinner was nothing if not a photographic opportunity. We sat around a circular table with a mirrored wall on one side and a window on the other, overlooking the water. The sun set while we dined. The sky changed colour. It had been a weirdly warm and windy day, singing of spring. I wish I’d had the audacity to request a photo, though it would have interrupted dinner. I couldn’t quite do it. I’m not a photographer, after all, not really.

After supper, we read. I must say that the view from behind the podium at Harbourfront is soothing and quite beautiful. The room is set up with tables, each with a little candle flickering on it, and that is all the reader can see — these dots of floating light in the darkness. The audience, on the other hand, is looking at a very well-lit reader. And the podium is see-through. So I was glad I’d worn my red shoes, though I did rather wish I could have waved a wand when the show was over and turned them into my comfy old boots.

After reading, we signed books and chatted. And then it all cleared out and got very quiet, and Kevin and I left with an old friend from university (I met her even before grad school). We went for a drink at a fake British pub. Relaxing, still floating on a few bubbles of glamour, laughing, rolling over the day, talking about babies (she has a four-month-old). It was a grand end to the evening. (Again, click on the photo for the full effect.)

And then a funny thing happened. An entire pipe band set up outside the front door of the pub. In full regalia. With drums and everything. And then another funny thing happened. We were berated by a passing gentleman (was he wearing a kilt? I think so) who told us we should be ashamed of ourselves not to be out there listening to the pipes. Apparently he was none other than Glenn Healey, former goaltender and now sports commentator. Celebrity sighting number two. Mr. Healey didn’t realize he’d just had his own celebrity sighting. OMG is that Obscure CanLit Mama? Drinking a pint? In her red shoes? Heh. I’m joking. No seriously, I am joking.

We took in the pipes. And then we went home.

"A very spirited Juliet"


  1. Lilian Nattel

    I loved reading this. I’m partial to trains myself and live just a couple of blocks south of one line. Often walk along it for km’s. Do get in touch with me when you’re back in T.O. for a nice quiet chat in sneakers.

  2. Carrie Snyder

    That walk sounds just lovely, Lilian. Another thing I love about trains is the sound of the whistle/horn. Yes, let’s stay in touch.


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