Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for July 2012


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There is no doubt about it, Toronto the Good, The City of Trees, Hog Town can also be call Condo Town. Given the amount of condo construction in every part of the city it clearly deserves the name. Approaching the city on the Queen Elizabeth Highway the towers line either side of the 8 lane black top. In the distance you can see them rising above and through the haze and smog covering the downtown core. As you exit the Queen E. and slip on to the Gardiner the skyscrapers now begin to intrude into the Expressway’s space. Creeping close to the guardrails and butting up against the roadway condo balconies lean out and over the speeding traffic. The sound must be annoyingly intrusive as it permeates the glass and steel skin of these buildings filling the smallish living space with what must seem like constant white noise. From early dawn to late evening Commuter traffic in Toronto is relentless. Along the lakeshore freight trains, passenger trains and Go trains add to the never-ending din.

And here I am on the 12th floor of one of these condos overlooking Toronto Harbour feeling the cacophony drifting up towards me. As I look around the complex I can’t help but notice the profusion of balconies. They jut out from building to building like the openings in cliff dwellings from ancient times. Then I realize that balconies are the only access cliff dwellers have to the outside world. This is where they find fresh air – where they can throw open their sliding doors to admit whatever breeze might be out there. Besides that, balconies are the storage bins, the sheds, the backyards of high-rise living. There on that narrow, concrete slab is where they store their stuff. Outdoor furnishings, potted plants and trees alive and dead, bikes, boxes, wooden clothes dryers are just some of the things you see. Some balconies are hung with bamboo privacy curtains. Others double as smoking rooms. Strings of lights or photocell lamps glow in the dark, mixing with the blue TV light that seeps out creating an eerie ambiance that frames whatever stuff is stored out there. Spring summer and fall balconies are an extra room. Come winter they are abandoned. But how different is that from those who own a home?

Sitting on this balcony looking out, spying actually, on the others across the way I feel like a peeping tom.

The thought fades, though, as I recall the day when I left home and started living life on my own – in an apartment – with a balcony that looked out over a busy main street with never ending traffic – and I smile.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

July 11, 2012 at 4:55 PM