Twenty-Three

“Twenty-three” is not a number of legend, not an intensely symbolic number or a quantity hallowed by fathomless association. Nonetheless, I’m feeling pretty proud about our twenty-third anniversary today, and am very excited to be having such a marvelous time spending it in a relaxing, refreshing, satisfying way.

We started out yesterday with a quick expedition to the north of our hotel, a few blocks east and a few blocks west. During this stroll we encountered again the mysterious phenomenon of Toronto’s “Look Point” signs which, to a visiting pedestrian, mean less than nothing.

Look Point

Margaret and I may not be globetrotting cosmopolitans on the scale of, say, Joi Ito, but neither are we are provincial rubes, and we spend a lot of time contemplating problems of signification and information design. We studied this sign and its environment for a long spell, but could make nothing of it. We pushed the button on the street pole, but nothing happened that seemed to us to call for looking or pointing. (We subsequently learned from our native informants that back in the day, Torontonians would approach certain marked crosswalks and extend their arm and finger as a way of communicating to drivers that “I’m crossing this street, and if you run me over you’re in a heap of trouble.” I withhold comment on whether one might more easily prevent such accidents by, for instance, simply putting a red light or stop sign at the crosswalk, or using the globally-popular “zebra crossing” design — but for the rest of the day, we played it safe by pointing at something every time we crossed a street, lest some loophole-hunting driver feel free to regard us as fair game. Evidently the custom has died out, with the introduction of flashing yellow lights and with an influx of new citizens who do not understand the customs of antiquity, but who wants to take a chance that some crazed driver might be a stickler for traffic laws?)

We proceeded from our morning stroll out to The Beaches, a neighborhood where at least one distinguished PR flack can be found. On our way, we noted the rigorous safety precautions taken by the Toronto Transit Commission, and admired the lettering in the subway stations (which has been fontified by Quadrat, available from MyFonts). We were greeted by Charlie, whom we had long waited to meet, and Ruairi, whose advent in this world was so breathlessly anticipated by all the readers of Blogsprogs (by the way, for those keeping score, since we saw Cameron two summers ago in London, we have now met two of the blogsprogs, and need only to track down Sawyer to complete our blog-relative duties)— and were fêted with a delicious snack that the O’Connor Clarkes had made specially in our honor. Eventually, Lily returned from a party and shared with us her very-impressive sixth birthday,

Lily's Flower

and all took a wonderful long walk from chez O’Connor Clarke to a ravine park. that leads to a cozy small business area. Beyond the businesses lies another park, though — this one, a beachfront park, to which we repaired for a glimpse of Lake Ontario (we waved to Nate and Liz in Rochester). The beach offered a chance for a generous meander down the boardwalk, complete with a stop for stone-skipping, and at the end of a wonderful afternoon with Leona, Michael, and the younger generation, we hurried east on Queen Street to catch a streetcar back to our hotel, where we were to meet Joey for dinner.

Joey led us through one of Toronto’s Chinatown neighborhoods, past the Ontario College of Art and Design (where we had the opportunity to evaluate the Sharp Centre from ground level), to Queens West, where we ate a scrumptious vegan dinner at Fressen. Joey thought that we might want to go to one of our subsequent dinners at Kalendar, Toronto’s best restaurant for a first date (he took Wendy there, so who can doubt that evaluation?), so we proceeded north and east to Little Italy to identify Kalendar’s location.

Hey, Joey

Then we wandered further east on College till we decided it was time to return to The Big Chill for dessert and music criticism. For some reason, Margaret and I had gotten tired by midnight or thereabouts, so Joey showed us back to the Metropolitan, where we collapsed in happy exhaustion, full and footweary and intensely thankful for our marvelous friends.

Today is the actual exact anniversary of our wedding, twenty-three years ago, and we’ve mostly just slept and brunched (and now, “blogged”). We never dreamed our lives together would be anything vaguely like they have been, and I feel a wee bit mystified at how I’ve managed to sustain my own part in so complex and demanding an occupation as “husband and father”; luck and persistence will carry one a long way, I suppose. But this afternoon, while my sweetheart dozes and our children look after one another, and our friends return to their already-busy enterprises, I sit down to write that there has been no gift more overwhelmingly wonderful than the affection and trust and support and love and encouragement that Margaret has offered me for twenty-three years of joyous marriage (and nigh onto four years of patient waiting for the wedding!) — graces that have been reflected and intensified by the shared gifts of Nate and Si and Pippa, of Juliet and Jennifer, so many lovely relatives and friends, near and far. What a glorious thing you all have done, helping us make it so far, so sweetly! Thank, you, thank you, with tears in my eyes and an irrepressible joy in my heart, to all of you — and especially, today, to the most wonderful love anyone might ever hope to share life with, my dearest Margaret.

On the Beach

12 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Congratulations to Margaret and to you, from Italy. I also married in ’82, and so can fully appreciate Margaret’s patience…

  2. “We subsequently learned from our native informants that back in the day, Torontonians would approach certain marked crosswalks and extend their arm and finger”

    I think we learned this from the US through ‘Sesame Street’…

  3. Congratulations on your anniversary.

    I noticed last month on a trip that in Salt Lake they have put orange flags on wooden sticks at certain crossings downtown. The pedestrian is supposed to pick one of them up before crossing, the intent that the driver will better see the walker.

    All of these techniques require a certain social contract-like agreement or mutual trust between driver and walker. My experience from years of living in DC was that such aides in that city might have brought the drivers through faster.

  4. Congratulations on 23! Beth and I recently celebrated number 19 and leading up to that event I did a little research. Many people are familiar with the tradition of celebrating the 25th as a “silver anniversary.” (The first traditionally is the “paper anniversary” and the fiftieth is “gold.”) Anyway, it took me some digging to discover that the 19th is traditionally celebrated as the “mulch anniversary,” and a few cubic yards of shredded cypress bark or a couple of hundred weight of cocoa bean hulls go a long way toward sealing one’s love and affection. I learned also that number 23 is traditionally celebrated as the “signage anniversary.” While gifts of stolen street signs are favored by some, our family has always celebrated with highway signage… I have my eye on a DANGEROUS INTERSECTION sign for that happy day when we celebrate our 23rd. I think a photo of LOOK/POINT is also very much in the spirit.

    Again, happy anniversary and many more.

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