Audrey and I spent 4 great years living in Toronto from 1995 - 1999 when I worked for Games Workshop, moving back to Alberta shortly after Fenya was born because, well, Toronto is a darned expensive place to raise a family.
While we were there we made good friends with a number of people we met at Wesley-Mimico United Church in Etobicoke, including Cy and Karen, who kindly put us up in their hundred year old home for a couple of nights. They also arranged a barbecue Monday night for a number of the people we used to chum around with back in the last century.
We don't keep in what you would call tight contact with the Wesley-Mimico crowd, but we pass along the occasional e-mail or blog post and the like, as well as exchanging the Christmas cards and attendant newsletters. Still, having been gone for three times as long as we'd ever lived there, you wonder if the personal connection is still there, or if the correspondence is serving as some sort of relationship respirator no one wants to be responsible for unplugging.
It turns out that Thomas Wolfe is at least somewhat full of poo, and that you can not only go home again, but it can also be a wonderful experience. We were a bit below the median age of the crowd we hung around with, so quite a few of them are now in various stages or retirement or semi-retirement, but we were still able to pick up right where we left off after our last visit in 2005, while catching up on the many changes of the past few years.
We commiserated and congratulated, laughed and gasped, and generally carried on as friends should. I wish I had taken some photos, but I felt like a wildlife photographer afraid of scaring off something elusive and shy, rare and wonderful, so I chose to leave the camera out of the equation, and I only regret it a little.
The strangest part was that since some of the old crowd have relocated to other areas of the GTA, or are traveling the world, or are busy keeping up with their grandchildren, many of them thanked us for giving them the opportunity to come together again. When Audrey mentioned how easy it was to reconnect with everyone, she was told, "You guys belonged here, and went through some challenging times with us, and you will always belong here, as long as you want to keep coming back."
Given the extremely high quality of these folks, and the considerable regard and esteem in which we hold them, I suspect it may be quite some time before we hear something as flattering as that again.
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