It all started with a phone call to my mom last year. I had broken down crying to her for the millionth time. I cried about being so far away from my family, for missing birthdays, weddings, funerals, and surgeries. I cried about feeling alone in Toronto, because as amazing as my friend circle is, at the end of the day, every major thing I do in my life, I do it alone. I cried about not being able to see the world due to high Toronto rental costs and my low budget. I cried because frankly, my hippie soul felt stuck.
So she said the six words that completely changed my thinking, “So why are you still there?”
It was if a switch flipped in my brain and suddenly I realized that holy shit, I’m a 24-year-old unmarried woman. Why am I still here?
I arrived in Toronto on August 15, 2010 as a bright-eyed 19-year old with white-hot stars in her eyes. I wanted to work in the music industry. I wanted to meet musicians and business people and live crazy nights and tell crazy stories. I had just been accepted to a budding music school that was also part of one of the top recording studios in all of Canada. And for all of this, I was willing to leave my life in Saskatchewan behind.
After I finished my two year program at school, I immediately got a job at one of the three major record labels in Canada. I loved it. I met musicians and business people and I lived crazy nights and I have more crazy stories than anyone really cares to hear. I talked about the gun epidemic in Africa with Robert Plant, I had dinner with Nile Rogers, I made Pete Townshend smile after I forgot my name, and I presented a platinum award to Ed Sheeran. Work wise, I got what I wanted.
However my life in Toronto was about so much more than just work. While everyone I met was connected in some way to music, I made friends that affected my life in so many ways. School friends, groupie friends, writer friends, artist friends. Every single person I met in my 6.5 year Toronto journey threw my life sideways into another path that I could have never imagined.
So why did I decide to leave Toronto, you ask? Well, my priorities have changed.
My initial plan was to immediately start researching music-related jobs in British Columbia; an area of Canada much more akin to my laid-back personality, and it boasted much cheaper flights into my home province of Saskatchewan. But that didn’t feel right either, maybe for the long run, absolutely. But I knew there was something else I had to do first.
Travel. I started this blog in 2015 for the purpose of documenting my music-related travels around the globe, and for the rest of this year, that is exactly what I plan to do. Now, I totally realize that a good 80% of people who read this blog are family, friends, friends-of-friends, people-with-less-than-two-degrees-of-separation-from-me. But what I’ve discovered over the past year and a half of writing for this blasted thing, is that I actually really like to do it. SEO, marketing schemes, and bullshit aside – I just want to write.
I want to travel to regions of the globe that have distinct musical attributes; both historical and contemporary. I want to feel the spirit of the Spanish guitar, I want to know what components embody traditional music in the Balkans, I want to find the Master Musicians of Joujouka in Morocco, and I want to document every part of it.
You see, by leaving Toronto and forging this new path I have no intention of leaving the music behind. I have been a part of the music scene in Toronto for years and now, I am going to become a part of the global music scene. But let me be clear – there is no money in this. THERE IS NO MONEY IN THIS. I’m doing it because I know that I will never be satisfied unless I do. You only regret the chances you didn’t take.
On February 26th, I gave in the keys to my Toronto apartment and boarded a flight to Saskatchewan. I will be spending the next month here with my family until I head out on my grand adventure.
My future travel plans are as follows:
March 24 – Fly to London, UK
March 25 – Fly to Madrid, Spain
March 26 – Take the train to Granada, Spain / Begin Volunteer position at Makuto Hostel
May 15 – June 1 – Portugal / Morocco / Italy
June 2 – 21 – Island hopping in Croatia
June 21 – August 1 – TBD
I can practically hear all of you whispering to yourselves, “But how are you going to pay for all of that?”
Well, during my time at Makuto Hostel, I will be a Party Planner. I’ll advertise activities that are going on in the hostel, be a tour guide, and plan fiestas. All of this in exchange for a free place to stay, comped meals, and laundry.
Additionally, for the past 6 months, on the side of my full-time job, I have been working a part-time gig, and a once-a-week writing job for The Plaid Zebra. While I travel, I intend to keep the Plaid Zebra gig.
In addition to all of this, I intend to be fully transparent with all of you about my travel expenses as I go along. I have written about it before, but the #1 reason I hear as to why people don’t travel is money. This, unless it involves some extenuating circumstances, is an excuse that I find unacceptable. I plan on showing you just how inexpensive international travel can really be.
So I guess this post is more than just a notice of my breakup with Toronto, it’s also a mission statement.
Does it break my heart to leave Toronto? Absolutely, I am a sucker sentimentalist and every time I think of a person I am leaving behind my tear ducts leak. But I am also damn excited for the great unknown that lay ahead.
This is it guys, unto the breach.