The city loves you; it gives you oxygen

Thursday 20 September 2012

At his launch last week, Mark Leslie called his new book, Haunted Hamilton, a “love letter to Hamilton.” A transplant to the city, Leslie, like many of us, has grown to love the sights, sounds, people, and places this city has to offer. I couldn’t help but swell with pride over all of these things as thousands of us took to the streets for Supercrawl 2012, prompting this, my own sort of love letter to the city.

I grew up in Burlington, and fact is, a lot of Burlingtonians simply don’t get Hamilton. Even though my dad was born and bred in Hamilton, each car trip into the city inevitably included the following statement when Plains Road became York Boulevard: “Lock the doors! We’re in Hamilton!” To me, Hamilton was gritty. It was unpolished. However, two decades would pass before I realized these are exactly the qualities I love about this city.

I was lured to Hamilton in 2008 by the promise of inexpensive rent and my growing love for pubs on Augusta Street and a friend’s cozy apartment on Bold Avenue.  I was a recent graduate, still pining over my former temporary home of Ottawa. I don’t choose the word pining to be dramatic, because it was pathetically true. I spent a lot of time back then drowning my sorrows in Caesars, thinking I’d never find a city I loved as much as I loved Ottawa. (Note: I once used the title of this post on my personal blog at a time when I was feeling particularly sappy about the whole move.)

I did find a city I loved as much as I loved Ottawa. In fact, I found one I loved even more. And to my surprise, it was Hamilton in all its gritty glory.

The slogan “You Can Do Anything in Hamilton” has been getting a lot of attention in the past few months, and it really feels like an accurate statement to me. Meeting people has never been easy for this shy, socially awkward gal, but there’s something accessible about this city. There’s something that makes us all want to meet new people, get involved, and be a part of what is happening in this city.

A day doesn’t pass living in Hamilton where the opportunity doesn’t arise to meet new people with the same passions and values and love for this city, whether it’s while bent over a laptop at Mulberry or taking a sewing class at Needleworks. And these experiences multiply further and further when you consider social media. Who would have thought simply starting a blog and becoming active on Twitter would eventually lead to real-life friendships, LitLunches, and trips to book readings like tonight’s Terry Fallis launch of Up and Down?

All of these things, and many others, floated around in my mind while wandering around the James Street North neighbourhood on Friday and Saturday of last weekend, listening to Terra Lightfoot, Born Ruffians, Great Lake Swimmers, and Owen Pallett, to name only a few. I bought books at the gritLIT booth before climbing the stairs to the Jackson Square rooftop to watch short films and eat free popcorn. And while watching trapeze artists take to the sky, I couldn’t help but think about how much Supercrawl has already evolved in its short, three-year life span.

I’m not a musician. The thought of making any kind of visual art makes me shudder. I didn’t even get around to sewing together hexagons for the Beehive Craft Collective’s installation. Yet, I think like so many people at Supercrawl, I didn’t feel like only a spectator. I felt part of something. Something that’s evolving and vibrant and refreshing. I can’t wait to see what Supercrawl 2013 brings. 


1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful. Hamilton looks like a lovely place to live.


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