Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two last I love Ottawa things

I've moved back to Toronto now to finish my degree, but I wanted to mention two "I love Ottawa" things.

1. Disorganised. A monthly dance party that has by now become a famous tradition in Ottawa, held on a Friday every month at Babylon. In the past it has featured electronic artists such as Crystal Castles, MSTRKRFT, and Girl Talk. After six successful years of earning itself a place in Canadian pop history, the party is shutting down as the organizers are going abroad. I had the fortune of attending the final party. There was a film screening of a Nuit Blanche project involving lighting up the CN tower, while a live soundtrack was provided by featured DJs Jokers of the Scene. It was a fabulous party. I saw varios ghosts of my past (what inevitably happens when you return to your hometown). The dance floor was full. They handed out disposable cameras to the crowds to commemorate the event and create a special meta-memory.

2. We created another memory, commemorating another event (my 25th birthday). We celebrated my voyage further into adulthood by going sledding. It was one of the coldest nights of the year. The night sky was clear and you could see all the stars, which was partly why it was so cold (no clouds to block the wind). I felt the pain throbbing in my feet through three layers of socks and had to patiently wait until the pain gave in to the cold and my toes felt nothing but a resigned calm numbness.

We went to our usual toboggan hill, the Aboretum at the Experimental Farm. Every time I hike through the closed off paths away from the streetlights into the dark past the benign "No Sledding" sign, I hear my parents' questions about why my friends and I choose to sled down a slope that is known for its vast beautiful trees. You know, trees are pretty hard surfaces to slam your body into. It's not a death wish, you know, although I'm sure my friends do enjoy the added excitement that a potential concussion might bring. Maybe it's the memories that linger in this place. Not just all the other years we gathered here with our sleds. But also that time I biked all the way downtown to this place from kanata and had lunch on the hill after my high school boyfriend fell off his bike and scraped his elbow. All the picnics rob and I had there, sponsored by Di Rienzo's and their delicious sandwiches.

I've become familiar with the trees there as well. There's the one that looks like the cover of the U2 album The Joshua Tree. There are the trees whose branches were damaged in the devastating ice storm of '98. There's one tree whose trunk is bent at a near impossible 90 degree angle, leaning as though beckoning to it's neighbour tree. They've all got personality, kind of like this place does in general.

It's quite the view from the arboretum. Just across the river there's the Carleton Campus, and you can see Dunton Tower shining its lights like a beacon, the only.
tower in this area for miles around. You can see the city lights off in the distance.

But the best view, I swear, is at this time of the year, on this kind of night. There are no street lights here, only a full moon which casts a subtle purple glow on the snowy plains - just light enough to make out the shape of your friends' bodies, but just dark enough that you can't tell which one if them pelted you with the snowball. also, dark enough that you can't see the jumps coming while you race down the hill full speed. But that's kind of part of the moment too. You know you're going to wake up tomorrow with bruised ribs and whiplash, feeling like you were hit by a truck, wondering how you endured sledding as a kid, but tonight you are that kid, and you surrender to it, you embrace it, you let gravity drag you down and hurl you from your sled and slam you into the trees, the trees you grew up with.