Friday, August 17, 2007

On Don Mills and Diva-dom

If I had known my husband in 1987 I would have been wild for him. Not that I’m not wild for him now but I mean WILD in the obsessive, unhealthy way that only a 17-year-old girl can be. He was in a punk band (a punk band!) called Sinful Love which had just recorded a song with a video enjoying rotation on that crazy new network MuchMusic.

The name of the song?


Don Mills is Dead.

Back then he was a punk raging against THE MAN and I was a diva-in-training, on the cusp of a social whirlwind that would be the defining feature in my life for the next 15 or so years.

But that was then. This is now.

Now we have a kid. We have a mortgage. We have a lawn to cut and eavestroughs to clean.

We live in Don Mills.

Ah irony. As a writer I appreciate irony more than anyone. But this cosmic slap-down is a comeuppance over which the Universe is surely still chortling more than five years after I abandoned Queen Street for Canada’s First Planned Community.

There are days when I remember fondly all-night kitchen parties and undiscovered indie bands and size 2 jeans and go-go boots and late night philosophizing about how my cohorts and I would wrestle the world to the ground.

I think about heady days on the university newspaper when a brooding political writer was the Tracy to my Hepburn and the night early in my career days when I lead a group of movie producers to an after-hours club where we bought mickeys of vodka from a biker selling them out of a hockey bag in the corner and danced to a country band until 6 a.m..

I remember the fruit of possibility was so ripe and so sweet; I needed nothing else to sustain me.

My husband and my son sustain me now. But there are still times when the reality of diminishing possibilities is an acute, exquisite ache.

But that’s not unique is it? The retreat of youth is an age-old story and the story ends the same way for most of us. (I’m sure my parents were betting on that when I announced to them in my early twenties that I would be permanently relocating to Arizona with a boyfriend who played trumpet in a ska band).

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when one grows up. For me it was when I realized that the story usually ends the same way for a reason. The chapters on youthful rebellion and wildness gradually give way to chapters on hearth and home because sane people aspire to happy endings. And generations of people far wiser (and probably cooler) than me have figured out that settling down is probably your best bet at a happy ending.

I live in Don Mills but I am not dead.

I will still stage my own small rebellions. I constantly risk the loss of free babysitting from my mother-in-law by staying out too late with my downtown friends! I fly float planes! I fight every parking ticket I get! I throw the biggest and craziest house parties in the neighborhood! (yes, my friends come uptown). When it’s questionable whether I can get away with that outfit/ comment/ purchase, I shut my eyes and dive right in.

Maybe I’m still a cop-out, but I don’t care.

I don’t define myself through my cool lifestyle anymore. In fact, I don’t even have a lifestyle anymore. I have a life. Welcome to it.

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Anonymous said...

Hey Kell - Congratulations on your new blog! I always enjoy your writing and now I have somewhere to read it on a regular basis! You're definitely "My Favourites" material! Mwah!

AMUIR said...

Hey... I thought I was imagining that song. I searched it as I remember seeing it on Much Music for some reason. Anyways.. You guys should throw it up on You Tube.

Anonymous said...

That was the video with the Showbiz Pizza gorilla overdubbed with the guitar solo.

Genius. The Pepsi Power Hour and C-Band Anik-D made puberty a reality.

Anonymous said...

Bless your heart for reminding me that Sinful Love played Don Mills is Dead.

I think I saw the video once but in the 80s there weren't many bands writing songs about Toronto (especially suburban Toronto...go Scarberia!) so it made an impression.

I can't wait to tell my brother that one of the guys from the band lives there

Now I just have to dig through the bins of every used record store in Toronto looking for it.

Whitenoise said...

"reality of diminishing possibilities" resonated with me. I'm a little further down the track and for years now, it's been obvious where my life is going- no great Canadian novel, no Nobel prizes, no great wealth, no power... Depresssing, yet oddly comforting at the same time.

There have been a couple times, Kelly, that you've managed to capture thoughts that sit half-gelled in my head and cast them into coherent words on an organized page. This is why I keep coming back.