I assumed it to be one of the billions of defective clothing pieces manufactured in Asian sweatshops (oops, letter-press-man misread the English phrase!) that are dumped en masse into vast shopping complexes – much like the Black Market on the outskirts of Ulan Baatar, Mongolia.
But then, I took a second look, read it more carefully and was struck by the phrase, understanding its meaning on many levels. I also realized it spoke to my own predicament.
Nowhere To Run To.
I’d spent the past week (a little more) in Toronto, buried under more piles of paper than I could bear; squatting and shifting through meetings; sifting through more legal jargon than I’ve seen since my law school days. Becoming ever more disillusioned, disappointed, disheartened as the week passed. I was feeling progressively buried under the sheer weight of the matter(s) at hand, the solitude of sorting out the essence from the footnotes. I (seemingly) had no choice; I’m in so deep that I had to dig in and paddle hard. There was nowhere to run.. to.
Or so it would have seemed. But how wrong I was.
Nearly every day, blessed as I am, I had someone to ‘run’ to.
I had my sister’s family the first few days – until they went out of town for the long weekend.
I had A, the very first friend I made when I moved to the city a decade ago. She brought stories galore.
I had F, who brought news of her (third) pregnancy, a healthy appetite and photos of her little boys.
I had S., who one day fed me gluten-free freshly baked bread; then serenaded me another day by ukelele.
I had A, who dropped by with her two-year old daughter, who despite her sunny disposition, who tantrumed about a xylophone that was out of reach, finally making do with the trampoline, markers and a bowl of raspberries.
I had I., a former colleague who regaled me with stories about lightning, flooding and camping during her family’s beach vacation this summer.
I had S & D, both competitive rowers who, though hailing from distinctly disparate eras of my life in this city, bonded over burgers, sports, sacred places and pilgrimage.
I had all of them and more; seeking refuge from my legal maelstrom, I dove into their (our) stories of families, of illness and dysfunction, of joy, death, sadness, work challenges, financial struggles, marital strife and harmony and child-rearing. We discussed food, travel, love, film and labyrinths.
The other side of mayhem had all the makings of sanctuary: I napped, tried out the ukelele, munched on flax bagel, lox & cream cheese; I walked and practiced yoga; I ate well, watched The Blind Side (again!)… and wept.
I was in Toronto, fortunate and grateful to have where – many wheres – To Run To.