1. Fly into Toronto after a sunny morning spent drinking too many cups of chocolate almond milk coffee in New York, and immediately make your way to the airport’s immigration area. Fear excruciatingly tedious bureaucratic hurdles and an intrusive pat-down, but instead find yourself being handed a two-year working visa within minutes.
2. Before being sent on your way, have your immigration officer lean forward, look you directly in the eye, and tell you in a low voice that under no circumstances are you to work in the sex trade during your time in Canada. Laugh and laugh, then wonder afterwards whether it’s a bad thing that you somewhat interpreted this as a compliment. Decide to postpone analysis of psyche-as-related-to-self-esteem to a later date.
3. Ponder whether your new visa makes your soul Canadian and, if so, whether said soul now requires regular doses of poutine. Decide to keep quiet about Melbourne vegan poutine experience, as you’re starting to think it probably wasn’t authentic.
4. Settle in at your long-lost soulmate’s apartment, and spend hours with your Lisa talking, laughing, talking, laughing.
5. Discover that, regardless of whether you find it marinated and grilled at a restaurant (Fresh, if you’d like to know) or in health food stores, every single type of tofu you eat in Canada seems to be the best tofu you’ve ever had.
6. Also discover that Toronto’s Live Organic makes the best kimchi you’ve ever had, and cheer for the fact that it’s raw and vegan to boot.
7. While Lisa is at work, spend two days in a row wandering around the gorgeous and unique Kensington Markets, delighting in the cheerful people, sparkling sunshine, and Fall-kissed trees.
8. Sparkles! Sparkles! Sparkles!
9. Resist buying sparkly red dress due to rational brain reminding you that, despite today’s sunshine, winter is coming, and also you aren’t allowed to work in the sex trade.
10. Become swept up in the colours of Kensington Market’s produce stalls, ignoring the inappropriately-existing summer watermelon to instead make a beeline for something your heart has long desired: mini individual fancy squashes.
11. Snaffle up a gorgeous Acorn Squash, hurry home, then roast it at 400F for an hour until it is golden, soft, perfect. Eat both halves sprinkled with pepper, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s, and apple cider vinegar, squealing to Lisa the whole time about how delicious it is and how happy you are. Subsequently have a little lie down because that blighter weighed two pounds.
12. Dance and twirl through your first week in Toronto as it flies by in a whirl of farmers market visits, late-night heart-talks, wonderful chocolate, and epic spectacular nights of dessert creativity in Lisa’s kitchen.
But those are stories for another day.
P.S. Except for the story about how I’m a little proud of myself because I absolutely fail at artsy-cleverness as a rule, yet it was my idea, when Lisa couldn’t find Fall-themed cookie cutters, to take the tulip cutters, turn them upside down, and thereby make them into little Halloween ghosts with chocolate chip eyes. This is likely to be my one and only aesthetic success all year, so you can darn well believe I’m going to crow about it.