I’ve been back home again. I took another mini-holiday to visit Windsor to participate in a four-day Intuitive Painting Workshop. The next post will be about that (remarkable) workshop. But integral to the experience as a whole are the four days I spent in Windsor – in and around places I frequented in my thirteen years living there while my girls were growing up; the place I left seven years ago.
I’d not been close like this to Windsor since I left it. When in the area I’ve either stayed in its easterly suburbs or in my original hometown of Amherstburg. I choose not to live with regrets but I’m wondering, what the hell was the matter with me?
Maybe it took those seven years for me to need to get there and be in it and find pleasure and comfort in it. Like I did over this past extended weekend.
This time I stayed with Lynn. She carted me around and gave me use of her car when she didn’t need it and brought me morning coffee and cooked me meals and poured me wine and dished as much love and support as she ever has in 45 years of a friendship. On my last day there she drove the 30 km west from her home to Mackenzie Hall on the city’s west side just to drive me the six km to the train station; a cab ride I was most prepared to take.
Having a friend like that? Beautiful thing number sixty five.
In each of those four days I drove (or was driven) along the Detroit River – and the sight of it from Lake St. Clair to the Ambassador Bridge about broke my heart each time. Of course it did. It was a compass point for most of my life. Marking west in Amherstburg for the first 30 years of my life, and north in Windsor for another 13. I looked upon the riverfront path I walked on so many nights and thought of my first adventures in online journaling on a homemade website where I documented the experience.
I live in a new place now, and next to an impressive body of water, but there’s something about a river. The methodical movement in it causes a restfulness in the mind. The freighters passing through and the bridges and the other city so close on the other side. Most of my father’s career was spent navigating that river, further placing its waters in the sensibilities of his daughter. He was often away for periods of time when we were kids and it was that river that would have carried him away most times.
And then Windsor’s streets; quieter, cleaner, everything on a smaller scale than Toronto, where I live now. Ouellette Avenue hasn’t changed much; a few restaurants gone, a few new ones in their places. Neither has our old street changed – from the perspective of darkness anyway. Our old happy (and haunted) house is still there, with its porch and its maple tree. Carly snapped a shot of it earlier in the summer to show us how much it didn’t change. There were many hours lived on that porch under that maple tree.
It was late when I went by. I wished I hadn’t missed seeing our old neighbour Louisa on her porch. I know she would have been there. Down at the corner, the diner has been remodelled, but the convenience store is exactly the same. One night a bunch of us from the workshop I was attending had dinner at an old favourite restaurant of my girls' and mine, Basil Court – Thai food I’ve yet to find equalled in Toronto.
Windsor seems smaller and slower than it was when I left. It’s probably not – it’s probably my perception, because I needed it to be. If I had to describe how I’ve felt in those four days, it would be “cocooned.” Probably because I needed to be.
It’s easy to write about the love dished out to you by a life-long friend. I do that a lot; it seems I have a lot of life-long friends who dish me a lot of love. What’s not as easy to write about is the kind of experience I had at the workshop. I’ll get back to you on that one. In the meantime, this space is for Lynn and Windsor. I’m feeling a lot of things coming away from those four days of living in my old city and painting intensively. The most of substantial of those is grateful. And that, my friends, is beautiful thing number sixty-six.