“Hi, mommy. What are you calling me?”
“Huh… hi, Mark. Why are you picking up the phone at yéyé and nǎinai’s house?”
“What country are you in?”
“Oh, we’re still in Canada! We’re in Toronto.”
“I’ve never been to Toronto.”
“Nope. So, you’re coming back?”
“Yeah, on Tuesday.”
“Oh, okay. What are you doing?”
“I mostly make daddy walk around the city for no reason. Oh, we saw a movie!”
“Deadpool. That’s… actually, that’s not for kids.”
“Yeah, I saw it. It’s a guy wearing a mask.”
“I don’t think so! When did you see it? Wait… don’t tell me yéyé and nǎinai bought it for you!”
“Nah, we didn’t buy it at Walmart. This one was free. I wrote it in the Google. D-E-A-D and then P-O-O-L. Like, dead in the swimming pool.”
“… Okay, first of all, it has NOTHING to do with a dead guy in a swimming pool, and second, daddy is going to talk to yéyé now. And Mark, seriously… stop watching movies that aren’t appropriate for you at yéyé and nǎinai’s house.”
“But mommy, you know what? They have NO IDEA what these movies are about!”
“Oh, trust me, Mark. I know.”
Ladies and gentlemen, our five-and-a-half-year-old son.
We had been instructed to bring back a metal three-tier steamer and a set of 象棋 (Chinese chess) from Toronto, and while Feng was asking his parents for crucial information—how many baozi will be steamed on average? How big should the steamer be?—I looked at the view from the 50th floor of the condo.
We had a good day. I was pretty relaxed. All we had to do now was to find a nice little restaurant in Chinatown—I was craving 炸酱面. For once, I wouldn’t have to shop, cook, clean and do all these chores that take time and energy.
Okay, I did have to make the bed since we were staying in a self-catered condo.
We went to Toronto for the Victoria Day long weekend for the best reason of all—none. Usually, we have an excuse, like a concert or a missed flight. This time, we didn’t have a plan and it was a very last-minute decision.
I had a whole bunch of excuses not to go to Toronto, actually. Sometimes, weekend getaways feel like a lot of work. I don’t mind packing for several months because it’s worth it. But packing and planning for a three-day trip was almost a chore. I had to clean the house before leaving (it’s depressing to come back to a messy house), wrap up some work, buy groceries because everything would be closed on Victoria Day, do some laundry…
“I don’t know, Feng,” I argued on Thursday night. “I’m tired. I’ve been working 7 days a week for the past two months. I don’t want anything complicated right now.”
“It’s not complicated! Let’s just go, then we’ll figure it out.”
That’s pretty much our relationship motto—every trip, every major decision and, ahem, Mark, started with “meh, let’s just take the first step and then we’ll work it out.”
On Friday night, I packed my computer, a few t-shirts and toiletries and I worked until early in the morning because I was planning to sleep for most of the five-hour ride.
And I did.
When I woke up 100 kilometres from Toronto, I was rested and I was in travel mode. Suddenly, I wanted to be in Toronto. I wanted to spend time with Feng. I wanted to enjoy whatever we were going to do.
We had a great time doing absolutely nothing special. We walked for hours, exploring the different districts of Toronto—University of Toronto in bloom, Kensington Market and the little shops, the Annex, Cabbagetown, Corso Italia, the Distillery District, Dundas West, the Financial District and the Harbourfront.
We had great Chinese food we can’t find in Ottawa—炸酱面 (noodles with soybean paste), 饺子 (boiled dumplings), 葱油饼 (scallion pancake) and 鱼香茄子 (braised eggplants). I went to my favourite Hong Kong bakeries and I had a Chinese massage (where I was treated like a queen after I started speaking in Mandarin). We slept more than usual, watched movies, talked, discovered new places and went back to the old ones.
Yeah, in hindsight, it was worth it.