Traveling to London – No, the Other London

A short story about my first time to London, Ontario.

This past month or so has been pretty hectic for Felix, partly because he’s been helping various instrumentalists audition at various universities. Some of the auditions have been local, and therefore not a big deal, but a few have been completely out of the way for him. One such location was at University of Western Ontario. In London. About two hours outside of our area.

While he’s been compensated for all his accompaniment, and has generally done his auditions solo, he asked me to come along on his trip to London so I could help with GPS directing and keeping him awake behind the wheel. Mostly the latter.

The day of the audition, we left out of the house with about an hour to spare, because we were due at 6pm, and Felix likes to be early. We found ourselves, however, immediately struck with traffic that kept us in Toronto for that first hour. By the time we were out on the open road between Toronto and (I love this name) Guelph, Felix was annoyed by our delay, I was annoyed by his slightly erratic driving habits, and we were surrounded by deep fog. I’m used to fog, but that was when I lived in the Appalachian Mountains, so I hadn’t seen fog like this in almost a year, nor had I seen so much farmland.

I mention the farmland and the fog very specifically because, during that hour and a half or whatever that we were borderline speeding down the 401 toward London, I was having a nostalgiagasm. The open road, the horses and cattle, the chicken coops, and sudden ad billboards may not have seemed interesting to the natives to Ontario, but to me, it was a slice of home I didn’t realize Ontario possessed.

I’ve lived in Toronto for over three months now, and I’ve gotten used to the subtle differences between my home in Charlotte and here. But during that slightly boring car ride, I admit, I got a tiny bit emotional. I didn’t cry or anything, but it brought me home. I also, of course, expressed all of it to Felix, in ways like testing his knowledge of silos and barns, to which he would reply, “I know what they are, I read books!”

London was also a fleeting reminder of being in Charlotte, but in a slightly more cynical manner. Charlotte can be super sketch at times, and I was reminded of this sketchiness when we finally got to London. Shitty street lights, the occasional abandoned strip mall section, amusing Asian restaurant names (like Best Korean Place), and this couple that we swear were about to have sex in the parking lot of an Esso while we were pumping gas. Please, don’t think I’m insulting London, because I’m not. I’d only insult Charlotte, I promise. It just left me in disbelief that it was so similar to Charlotte in certain ways.

Would I go back to London? Well, I mean, I have to, because Felix has another audition there. But would I go back again? Probably not. It’s a really far trip, and in probably the thickest fog I’ve ever experienced while in a car. It was a super refreshing experience, however, and I’m glad I got to go.

Sorry for making this short story a bit longer than I thought it would be. It’ll probably be longer next, time, though.

– C