About six months ago, I drove to 6040 Bathurst St., just south of Steeles, in North York. 6040 is the address of a residential high-rise, about 17 floors, built in 1971.
I parked in the adjacent McDonald’s, then crossed a large boulevard to get to the building’s front entrance; a way in I haven’t had in 23 years.
I stepped back before going in and counted balconies on the far north side. My Bubbie and Zaydie lived on the sixth floor, I think. I never was allowed to go out on that balcony. I never experienced their view, what they saw.
I realized I couldn’t very well go in, so, after a few minutes, I walked back to the McDonald’s. I ate French fries in the car, and stared up at 6040.
As a kid, this place was far far away; it was where my grandparents lived. I knew nothing of Toronto, of my Bubbie taking her grocery cart down the elevator and across old sidewalks to walk to Kiva’s for cheese blintzes. I knew nothing of the future that awaited me. I had no repository for memory; I couldn’t know I would sit in a car, years later, trying so hard to remember Zaydie in their yellow living room and Bubbie in the small kitchen with the dishwasher you had to push to the sink and hook up with a long tube to get it started.
My sisters and I spent years in that apartment, learning to bake, rifling through closets, desk drawers, jewellery boxes. We would make Zaydie take us downstairs to the pool no one ever swam in, then outside to the very same McDonald’s, though he’d never buy us French fries or milkshakes. We’d play around him as he stood and smoked and smiled.
I know it’s just a building, older than me, showing its age. Still. It is there, along with the McDonald’s and Kiva’s, a monument.
Today, Father’s Day, I remember that drive I took six months ago. Later, I’m going to drive to Oakville to visit my dad, in the house where I grew up and my parents still live. It is the place that now feels far far away.