9PM, leaning on a windowsill at the Carlu, glancing down at the bright lights of the city.
"So what's your story?" she asks. It's a popular question around these parts because everyone has one. Between bites of too-dry fish, cold steak, potatoes, and bitter greens dressed in a tomato vinaigrette, I tell her. "You just came to Toronto?" she asks again; I nod. Shrugging, I confess I've done smarter things in my life.
"Sometimes," I say, "you just have to take a chance, a giant leap, and see what happens." As soon as the words cross my lips they feel rehearsed, tacky, wisdom passed down, but I believe it and I live it. It feels kind of dramatic, like a pop song aimed at a teenaged demographic. "No one knows who she is or what her name is, I don't know where she came from or what her game is," Nick Gilder sings in "Hot Child in the City". Gilder was singing about child prostitutes on Hollywood Boulevard, but he could've just as easily been talking about us.
This girl's originally from Taiwan and is moving to Norway next week for six months to throw herself fully into the study of design. She says she wants to move to Sweden. Over our meal, she points to the building across the street, its lights like arrows pointing up to the sky. "Something like that brings out emotion in me," she explains. "Or apartment buildings. I imagine people living there, poking their heads out." In silence, we watch strangers as they walk the streets below. Looking out over the city, sharing a meal, we're the lucky ones.
*Image courtesy of Jeremy Wing.