I know I’m in Canada because the building a few streets down has a sign that says “The Canada Building”. It’s quite unimpressive, plain beige and square, but then Windsor is not exactly the kind of city that blows your mind away.
I’ve always been kind to places that I visit, though, and I stand by my belief that if you’re in the right frame of mind – and more importantly, with the right people – most places in the world will have something to offer. And sure enough, the view from the 18th floor of this apartment is beautiful. There are tall buildings that glitter all through the night instead of the stars, and all the cars and roads look like they came out of a toy set. I can see the river that changes color every day. I would be crucified for comparing New York to Windsor, but the cityscape from the balcony stirs the same loneliness in my heart.
The city is sketchy, with a rundown downtown. It looks poor, with small homes and strip clubs and bars all over the place, scattered like dice, with names like Leopards’ and Bingo, and my personal favorite: Sin. They offer attractions called ‘Uncensored Fridays’. There is a small building nearby that advertises haircuts for $1, and a massage parlor that has an almost nude mannequin in the window, which makes you wonder about the kinds of massages being offered. The sidewalks are decorated with gum stains stamped black into the asphalt.
People are really friendly, everyone says hello, how are you when they step into the elevator with you, or when they walk by close enough. There was this one lady who paused to smile and wave at us when she walked by the restaurant where we were eating, like we were Mickey, Minnie and Daisy in Disneyland or something! The riverfront is really pretty, and even better is being with Reem, who keeps a picnic blanket (that conveniently folds into a striped bag) at all times in her car so we can spread it out on a grassy hill and lie down under a cloudy summer sky. A cute little café that serves normal proportions of coffee, and I would rather outlive all my loved ones at the age of 30 than be homeless and have no friends. Almost cheesecake the size of a mini-mountain, and poutine – fries with gravy (which sounds disgusting but tastes really good!).
It is also really multicultural and I haven’t seen so many women in hijabs in a while! It feels great. There is an entire street filled with restaurants and shops with signs in Arabic. Canada, I’m still in the process of getting to know you. Here’s to more travelling in this large country (which is apparently second only to Russia when it comes to size!) and meeting up with one of my best friends tomorrow!