Pokémon : Toronto vs. Elmvale

In an attempt to embrace our latent millenialism and maintain the illusion that we’re closer to 20 than 40, JF and I are avid Pokémon Go players. Yes, it’s just as embarrassing as it sounds. But we can’t seem to stop!

When I reached Level 21

The celebratory screen shoot I took after reaching Level 21 before JF

Part of the appeal might be that it has become a competition. Mikaela vs. JF. Husband vs. Wife. Men vs. Women.

We’re (literally) running around to see who can get to level 22 first. I’m edging ahead but my recent lack of pokeballs has put me at a serious disadvantage – unable to capitalize on any creatures that appear on my screen.

Two days ago, I almost spent real actual money from the bank on virtual (e.g. make believe) pokeballs to catch a level 700 Staryu (level 700! Staryu!). I didn’t waste my wages, but I may have shouted « Noooooooooooooo! » on a busy Elmvale road.

Why did I run out of pokeballs, you ask? OK you didn’t ask but I’ll tell you anyway. It’s because Elmvale only has four pokestops – the source of pokeballs. And when you’re a grown up with actual things to do, you simply don’t have time go by those pokestops again and again.

Which brings me to today’s thesis : people in less populated are at a serious disadvantage in the game Pokemon Go.

In Toronto, there is a pokestop or gym at every corner. Our friends Mireille and Patrick took us to High Park, where we filled our virtual pokebackpacks to the brim with pokeloot and caught all sorts of rare beasts. Sometimes, I dream of going back there without JF to gain a serious lead in our pokebattle.

screen shots from the game

Left: downtown Elmvale. Right: downtown Toronto. Unfair!

Last weekend we walked through Allan Gardens and caught a Bulbasaur, Clefairy and Gloom in the span of 20 minutes. That same amount of time in Elmvale might yield a Rattata (rat), Weedle (weevil) and Pidgey (pidgeon). So basically, Elmvale gets rodents and pests. Toronto gets fairies and dinosaurs. I call no fair!

I’ve just re-read the words I (a 32-year-old woman) typed above. I feel deep shame but also a deep sense of injustice. Equality for the boonies! Equality for the boonies!

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The province of Toronto

Some people in rural Ontario feel that Toronto is a noisy and crowded pit of depravity populated by spoiled elitists selfishly hogging hard-earned government resources.

This week, the editor of Elmvale’s free local paper claimed that if Toronto were to secede, the rest of the province would rejoice.

The editorial from Springwater News

Despite slight factual incongruities (Michael don’t you know Torontonians leave the city as often as possible?), this piece made me grin.

I would add that some Torontonians think of places like Elmvale as quaint little backwaters filled with gun-toting, simple-minded, conservative rednecks. That is, if they even bother thinking of rural Ontario as anything more than a hodge podge of ski hills, cottages, and cute little downtown shopping areas.

What’s important is that in both cases, “some” means a minority — hopefully. Both stereotypes carry a grain of truth. And as a citry girl, I’m delighted to be able to laugh at both the big smog and the boonies.

The Deal

I grew up in the village (hamlet? intersection?) of Perkinsfield, Ontario. It’s so small it doesn’t even get a dot on the Ontario map. Even google gets confused when you try to find it. It used to have a fast food stand shaped like a giant hot dog that made it fairly memorable to cottagers driving through, but that shut down.

Found a photo of the old Perkinsfield hot dog stand.

Found a photo of the old Perkinsfield hot dog stand.

Anyway.

I’ve lived in Toronto since 2003.  I like the city. I like going to concerts on school nights and having delicious Indian food delivered straight to my door. I like my friends here. I like my workplace. I like my choir. I even like my apartment.

Our place is on the top right corner

Our Toronto apartment. The one on the top right corner.

The thing is, I’ve never actually loved the city. There were a few early years when I thought it might be love, but Toronto lost a little fairy dust each time I got stuck on a sweaty TTC car, was woken by police sirens, or forked over a massive rent cheque.

To me, Toronto is like a nice, A-type, career-minded person. I appreciate and admire it. But it takes itself too seriously.  It forgets there are other ways to be. It gets caught up in schedulers, americanos and expensive shoes. And all of that stuff has me itching to buy a few acres, throw on some wellies and buy a goat.

Which brings me to an interesting question. Ten years is a friggin long time. Is country life the way I remember it?

I have this vision of people wearing sweatpants to the grocery store, getting home at 5:15 p.m., and drinking beers on porches with long clotheslines flapping behind them. I imagine houses with wide open vistas, perfect for stargazing. My whole family laughing around my dinner table. Apple trees. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. But I might be idealizing things just a tad.

I will soon find out just how far off the mark my memory is. My partner Jean-François — the best, smartest, most handsome franco-ontarian this side of Markham — got a new office in Barrie and is buying us a house in Simcoe County. Probably in Elmvale, which is as close to Perkinsfield as we can get without making JF’s commute a major pain. My mother is thrilled.

This blog is my effort to catalogue our adventure. It might cover a little house hunting, a little decorating, a little job searching, and a little pondering. Maybe a little music (the other love of my life) too. Either way, I hope it will help you, my friends and family, keep abreast of my movements.

I guess you could say this big change in my life is an exercise in dream chasing. I have no job, no distinct plans, and will very soon have no money. But I’m optimistic. As addle-brained as this whole thing might be, it feels right.

That said, please wish me luck. I will need it.