Changing surroundings and placing yourself in various environments, in other words, going places, is an experience that everyone goes through every day without giving it a second thought. We all do it, we all love it.
Of all places, I find the short-lived ones to be the most important. Aside from the sheer fun of being alert by being somewhere where you’ve not been before, these offer an added sense of pleasure derived from the temporality of the situation.
Never before were they so missed as they are today. With the impossibility of going to a concert, or a play, or even moving self-absorbed through an art exhibit comes a new awareness: the need for repetitive ambient change.
Ephemeral spaces are fascinating. They have big crowds and elaborate setups, invasions of city streets and parking challenges, temporary installations and large amounts of noise. From conventions to theatre, to rock concerts, halls and the outdoors alike are taken over, themed, embellished and filled with silvery foils, colour and catered food.
And now, as the streets of Toronto finally flourish in a delayed bloom of late summer, the city becomes a festival itself. Terraces, flowers and music are back and scents of culinary delights haggle for your attention everywhere.
I walked King West, west of Spadina to find the street exploding with terraces. It was a weekday. A sunny early afternoon, a slow and loosely populated place that became softly dense at happy hour.
I stopped at Anjeho, had a cold melon margarita and ordered their tacos from the virtual menu. Have you seen them? It was my first at using one, I know.. they are not knew, yet somehow I’ve avoided it to this point. I personally like the pleasure of flipping thru a paper menu but I’m guessing, that will not happen for a long time now.
As the sun lost steam, we watched the street fill with the neighbourhood working crowd. Within the street, timidly, people became the show.
There is still no live music, there is still no stage-play, but there is a play. The script is often derailed by mentions of masks and sanitizers, yet increasingly normalized by re-found outfits and social gestures.
There is power in movement and place and the global awareness that this has gained will not be forgotten. There is not only a vaccine we need to search for, but we need to design a way of living that will never have to be exposed to the need and danger of self-isolation.