When i was a kid, i used to get on my bicycle and ride out from my parents home in Toronto. I would go as far as i could on the bike my parents bought me. I did this quite a few times, maybe 3 or 4 in all. By the time i was 10 years old, the cops had put out a.p.b's to look for a little boy on a bicycle riding along queen street and some unknown intersection. I distinctly remember looking back at the police in their car, riding along side me with flashing lights. My poor parents must have been heart sick but i think by the 3rd time, they got the picture that i was a wanderer and needed to go it alone sometimes. My folks told me that i was hard to hold. I squirmed in hugs and struggled to the floor when picked up. Seems odd to me now because i really like a good hug most of the time. Indeed, quite a few pictures of me as a child corroborate this running narrative of me as a wanderer and a wonderer. I recognize today that it is part of who i am.
It's no surprise that by the time i was 19, I was looking to go to university in another province where i could fully explore what the world was made of. I moved to montreal, did a few degrees at school, always with the intention of moving back to my nucleus. As my friends moved back, one after the next, i wondered what I was still doing. Some voice told me: "you are here for a reason". I lived through difficult times in my twenties moving through sorted living arrangements and making huge personal sacrifices in the hopes of selling a few paintings. I walked in the swamps of society, hanging with relics, moving through social scenes a lot of people never walk out of. All the while, I told myself, this is what an artist does. An artist goes it alone. Walks the dangerous path between isolation and consolation, nowhere in between. After all, an artist is not supposed to have it easy i told myself. At the snap of my fingers, i could have been back home in my bed at my parents house, in the heart of toronto's bustling down town. I could have had an easier life for sure. Surrounded by family and friends, going to parties, meeting new people and the having special consideration given to me just because i was in my home town. I did not do it. I continued to ride my bicycle, looking around, left and right. Maybe in the hopes that some police cruiser would come looking for me. No one did. I think today, that i finally ended up riding my bike really fucking far. Maybe far enough that there is no way to get back to that peace and innocence and freedom or invulnerability i once knew. Did i do this? Or is this just what being an adult is?
These are the trade-offs. The compromises we seem to have to make to get where we are going. I think of a friend of mine who decided never to live more that 50 yards from their first home; the one they grew up in. Sometimes they lament to me about how they have difficulty making big decisions and about how they sometimes wish they could get more perspective and distance from their everyday lives. When i speak with one friend in particular, i look into him for glimpses of what i left behind; what my life would have been like. I am somehow comforted to hear him complain about it. It validates the decisions i made. I wonder, how many of us are there longing for something we have lost? Maybe that is being an adult. Some sense of dissatisfaction for having given something up. Children don't like to trade, they seem to want both. I know i usually do too. Both cities, both time and money, both now and then. But there is a trade. As i write this, i get to thinking that that trade defines who we are.