Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winnipeg Love Letters -- I is for Imperfect

Dearest Winnipeg, as my new hometown I felt I needed to tell you some things. I wanted to send you a love letter, a few love letters, just so others may know how sweet you are. How you're so unflashy, and so very honest. How your simplicity makes room for deep conversations. I think I may love you...but I know it's too soon. This little ode to joy is for you. Enjoy. xo  

What is it with us and perfection? Why do we spend untold minutes searching the teetering apple pile to find that perfect specimen? Why do we marvel when someone has perfect teeth? Why oh why was Bo Derek a "perfect" 10? I call bullocks on that. 

When I lived in Vancouver I loathed the perfectly soul-less, skyscrapin' glass monstrosities that made up our downtown. It was as if Vancouver was averse to anything less than perfect. I guess maybe the mountains and the ocean were hard to live up to? Well, you sweet little Winnipeg you. You don't have the same pretenses, do you? You've accepted your imperfections. You know full well that your streets run at kooky and perhaps illogical angles. It's what keeps your drivers on their toes. And those places you call Winnipeg Institutions. They are not *really* the best places to eat, but there's something incredibly endearing about them. Something nostalgic. Something loyal.

When I first moved here I suffered from perfection withdrawal. I had quite the attitude: well I think it would be better if they just...i don't know what they were thinking with these colours...seriously? who thought of that? Soon enough though, that attitude began to dissipate. I found charm in the mismatched retail signs. I was smitten with the ragamuffin decors. I loved the beat-up 70s look of certain areas. It was as if once you took away the dazzle, you could see. You could find the meaningful conversation beneath the veneer, rather than having the veneer be the meaningful conversation.

My 100-year old home and neighbourhood are grand designs of imperfection. Leaky gutters, slanted houses, bumpy streets, mish-mash retail. But it's also rife with people who care about community. Who valiantly oppose the malathion spraying. People who embrace a diverse and imperfect range of neighbours. 
Without the dazzle we see delight. Without perfection we seek our own potential. Our own uniqueness. 

I think back to that apple pile and the bruised apple everyone overlooks: not realizing that an apple, like a city, is made all the more sweeter by the bumps, by the imperfections, of its landscape.

1 comment:

Loren "don't call me Laurie" Remillard said...

as a lifelong winnipegger, i agree Winnipeg has its charms, its hidden jems - as does every city in Canada (well, every city but Regina - that's a shithole if every there was one!). whilst i haven't lived in another city, i've travelled extensively and can say that winnipeg's problem is that most winnipeggers haven't lived anywhere else and have no idea the blight and plight of other places...well, i'm done pontificating...or was that exhilirating? (inside joke folks, I'm not dyslexic!)