Jimmy and I had a few places in mind for our honeymoon, nowhere warm for November. We’re not very tropical people, so going to Mexico or the Caribbean was out. We narrowed it down to a few places:
-Maine (no city in particular)
Neither of us had been to Canada, and it was the shortest flight, so we decided on Toronto. Jimmy got a great deal on a hotel, and the flight was affordable too. We booked it a few months in advance, which helped with the price.
Once we booked it all, we had a conversation like this:
“I’m excited to go to Toronto!”
“…what is there to do in Toronto?”
We researched a few things to do, but we really went on our honeymoon with no concrete plans or itinerary. I was excited to not have any agenda or schedule to follow; in my everyday life, I desperately need a routine, but on this trip, I was looking forward to winging it.
The day we left, we decided to take the bus to the Blue Line to get to O’Hare instead of calling a cab. The bus stop is directly across the street from our place, and as we got downstairs, the bus was already there, letting on the last few people. We ran across at the crosswalk, waving our hands, and the bus driver pulled away the second we got to the stop. She stared at us, yelling inaudibly through the doors. Jimmy, furious, ran after the bus, which only stopped about 30 feet ahead due to traffic.
“You saw us coming, and there’s a red light, why didn’t you stop?!” He asked.
“The bus doesn’t stop for you, you stop for the bus!” She yelled at us, complaining about how terrible we were. She let us on, and I just laughed. I was looking forward to being out of the country that much more.
When we got to the airport, Jimmy tried to check us in through a kiosk but was unsuccessful. He’d put my ticket name as “Kate”, but my passport (and full name) has me listed as “Katelyn”. We went up to the Air Canada ticketing agent, Lisa, who asked us if we’d like to be put on standby for an earlier flight.
Instead of taking off from O’Hare at 6:15pm, we were rushed through security by Lisa personally and put on a flight that left O’Hare at 5:05pm. We were in the airport for about 12 minutes.
When I was a kid, I adored flying. I would fly alone from St. Pete to Chicago constantly, visiting family in the midwest then returning to my new home on the Gulf Coast. I’d always bring a book, a notebook, my Walkman, and a bunch of CDs (oh, and my stuffed bunnies too). I loved the alone time and the two hour trip that took me across the country. As an adult, my anxiety has evolved and now frequently presents itself in situations where I feel “trapped”. I have panic attacks in traffic, when I’m at work and can’t leave the classroom, and sometimes in elevators or crowded stores. This doesn’t add up well when I’m on a plane. Our plane sat on the runway for about 15 minutes, and I didn’t feel that bad. However, once we started moving towards takeoff, my hands started tingling, and I lost feeling in my face. I know this is the signal for a bad attack, so I practiced a breathing technique I learned in yoga: close your left nostril, breathe in through the right, then let the air out the left and breathe in the left. My instructor told us to think of it like a mountain, traveling up and down the slope. As we took off, the rush of gaining height and turning sharply to the East destroyed my equilibrium and my hands were in unmovable claws. Jimmy held my warped hand and it went away in about 15 minutes. I had another attack during some pretty rough turbulence, but only because it was night and I couldn’t see anything outside the window.
Landing was a huge release. We grabbed a cab to our hotel, the Fairmont York, and we were in our room by 8:45pm (Toronto is an hour ahead of Chicago). The first thing we did? SWIM. Our hotel had a warm, beautiful pool and hot tub. We went swimming seven or eight times in our four-day vacation.
Quick story: Jimmy and I stayed at a hotel in the suburbs for our wedding weekend so we wouldn’t have to drive back to the city. A bunch of our friends booked rooms too. The morning of our wedding, we went swimming for a while. I had my hair done and I shaved my legs on the edge of my mom’s bathtub, but I didn’t shower before the wedding. Right before the start of our ceremony, I noticed my arms smelled like chlorine. I loved it. I felt like a kid playing dress up, still holding fast to my roots.
Swimming everyday on our honeymoon gave my skin a semi-permanent pool smell. It reminded me of our wedding day, and I was happy whenever I noticed it.
Our first full day in Toronto was busy and amazing. We walked along the lake and took in the skyline. Toronto reminded me a lot of Chicago, except cleaner, quieter, and friendlier. Oh, and more expensive (but not by much).
No joke, the entire city was under construction.
Me and that CN Tower realness.
Jimmy tried to call an Uber to pick us up from the hotel, but because we didn’t use our phones’ data, he couldn’t get it to work. We ended up taking the subway.
This is Jimmy’s “I AM SO FUCKING PISSED I CAN’T CALL AN UBER” face.
Another example of panic attacks triggered by feeling trapped: being underground on the El. I won’t take the Red Line into the city, so I was very nervous and skeptical of the Toronto subway. I loved it. The car was wide, bright, and clean. More surprisingly, there were no crazy people ranting, selling drugs, or exposing themselves (these are extreme examples from Chicago public transit, but I’ve experienced two of three, and I know people who’ve seen it all).
We took the subway to Queen’s Place, right on the edge of the University of Toronto campus. It’s a beautiful school, and we took in the sights on our way to a gaming store Jimmy wanted to check out. It turned out to be kind of disappointing, but we found Castle Board Game Cafe next door and had an amazing meal while we played Adventure Time Card Wars for two hours. It was perfect.
The streetcar lines
Instead of just taking the sub back, we walked about two miles down Spadina, through Chinatown and Kensington Market. I was enamored with both neighborhoods, but I really fell in love with Chinatown. In Chicago, Chinatown is pretty small. Well, it’s really a street. Toronto’s Chinatown is an entire community that feeds into the downtown rush. We wandered the neighborhoods for hours until our legs were frozen.
That night, we went to Ripley’s Aquarium, which was about five blocks from our hotel. They had a special: “Sharks After Dark”. $5 off if you go between 7-11pm. It was the coolest aquarium I’ve ever been to! We spent most of the night in there, watching sharks and sting rays just be cool. I also learned there is a massive lazy fish called the potato cod. I want to come back as a potato cod when I die.
On our second day (Thanksgiving), we had a late start to the day. We got up, went swimming, and watched the dog show on TV. The bloodhound won. I love bloodhounds. I got Subway from the Toronto PATH (which is the coolest idea ever and Chicago should have it), then we went out so Jimmy could get some Canada gold: poutine.
Double Pork Poutine. Jimmy said it was like eating a heart attack, but he had no regrets.
He noshed on some Canadian food, then we went to Snakes and Lattes, another gaming cafe. It was really nice, like Castle, but it was a little less comfortable and the service wasn’t amazing. I would recommend Castle way more.
Thanksgiving night was lovely too. I ordered room service and we watched Space Jam. OH, and lots of swimming.
So, in the past, I haven’t cared much for Thanksgiving. November has had family tragedies and upset, and I frequently get a cold when the weather changes. I just don’t like the holiday much. This Thanksgiving, however, was truly wonderful. I got to spend the day with my husband, and we did exactly what we wanted. I got to talk to my mom too, which was great. I wish my mom could see Toronto. I think she’d really love it. Maybe someday we’ll take a road trip there.
Friday, our final day, was equally amazing. It was a bit too cold, though! I know, we went to Toronto at the end of November, but it was extra chilly. We got up early because we were leaving the next day at 5am.
This is how crazy the construction was.
The market was really amazing. It reminded me of London. All of these little venues sharing one big space, the sounds of people laughing and eating, the smell of seafood and the cold breeze rushing through the spaces in between tents.
OMG I ALMOST FORGOT.
Okay. This might seem silly to some of you, but Toronto had black squirrels.
I have never seen a black squirrel in my life. Ever.
I didn’t even know they existed.
They reminded me of my old dog, Victor. Little anxious black fluffy things.
Seriously. This is a thing. Canada rocks.
We went back to the hotel after this and ate lunch, then couldn’t figure out what else to do. We decided to check out the conservatory on the other side of the city. Allan Gardens is like the Lincoln Park Conservatory, except maybe a little bit bigger.
Allan Gardens, yo.
It was nice and warm inside, which was a welcome reprieve from the freezing wind chill. I was a little sad that we were going home the next day, but I was thrilled that Jimmy and I had been able to spend such an amazing week together.
The first six months of our marriage has been a lot like the last seven years of our relationship. The dynamic between us hasn’t changed. We still bitch about the most asinine things. I nag him about the tone of voice he uses when he’s upset, and he gives me grief about being grumpy when I wake up. I fall asleep after him, he wakes up after me. We are goddamn annoying all the time. We actually made someone on the streetcar laugh because we were bickering and swearing at each other (in jest, of course).
We wandered the park for a while, then decided to get back on the streetcar for night swimming and Card Wars.
I am a massive ball of anxiety. I have always hid this from people. Of course, my friends know I have anxiety, but I never let on how bad it gets. I smile, stand on my tiptoes for balance during my dizzy spells, and rub the back of my neck (it’s a nervous tick). Jimmy knows all of my ticks, triggers, and meditation methods. He helps me through my hardest moments, and I try to do the same for him. This hasn’t changed. Marriage doesn’t change this stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being married. It’s a warm feeling. But, in the end, if we hadn’t gotten married, nothing would really be different. And that’s how it should be.
Thank you, Jimmy. I love you, whether you’re my boyfriend, partner, fiance, husband, or all of the above. ❤