No matter where you go in life; no matter what experience you have in the lands that pepper the face of this globe — you will be forever connected to your homeland. Whether that’s the place where you were born or the place where you spent a good deal of your life growing up, we look at these places with some degree of fondness — sometimes so much that we’re surprised by the word s that come out of our mouths!
Me, I’m born and raised Mississauga, ON. It’s one of the biggest suburbs in North America, and in my opinion the city’s mostly good for one thing — raising a family. Muy importante, but not so cool when you’re a teen. Not so cool when everything’s spread apart, connected by a shaky transit system and you’re too young to drive a car. Not so cool when for the most part, the whole city shuts down at 9 PM. A city three-quarters of a million strong and everyone’s in bed as soon as the sun goes down!
But like it or not, I’ll defend Sauga in any argument. Though most of the kids I grew up with tried to get out of the ‘burbs as soon as humanly possible, there’s an unspoken rule we all pretty much follow —
You don’t badmouth Sauga if you’re not FROM Sauga.
I think this rule is a little universal — we all “rep where we’re from”; even when we don’t know we’re doing it. It shows in how we speak, act, think and interact with others. It’s part of the template for who we are.
But again, there’s not much to do in Sauga other than eat, shop or hit up the local house parties.
Fortunately for me, I started going to school in downtown Toronto at the age of 12.
Now that I’m in the T-Dot to live day in and day out instead of pulling a half-day timeshare program between the two cities, I’m discovering new things all the time that’re right under my nose.
Every city’s full of nooks and crannies that hide some great secrets that so few people know about. (Perhaps it’s better that way, so the lineups stay shorter!) We complain about being bored and there being absolutely nothing to do in the world around us, but how much have we really explored? How much do we individually know about the hidden gems in our cities, and furthermore, how much of that do we actually share with other people?
Every city needs its champion. Someone who’ll be able to give people the knowledge needed to actually navigate their homes in a way that might matter to them. It won’t be a mayor. It won’t be the business owners who pay into “best of” guides to get themselves featured as authoritative sources for goods and services.
It will be us who spread the word about secret menus. It will be us who tell others how to get to the secret rooftops that can only be access through winding mazes of hallways and alleys. Parties that no one hears about. Shops that no one knew existed. We will be the ones to help others learn about them.
It’s time to rep your city. Explore your city. Love your city.
Who’ll help me do it?
–Casey E. Palmer