Summer of 1989: Twist of Fate, Toronto CA

Where to start?

This issue has pervaded my entire adult life; like an itch under the skin that cannot be relieved by scratching or application of ointment.

Standing at the window, staring out at nothing in particular, I made a wish.  There is not much to see in the hoods of Toronto but gray towers, yellowing grass, gray wire fences and gray sky, so my wish was not made upon a star.

I was bored, since school was out for summer and I couldn’t find a summer job.  I longed for something to do, other than chores and passive activities like watching TV or reading.

I silently uttered these words to myself:  “I wish I had a camera”.  Then continued with the daily occupations of a teenager - as interesting as discussing the price of cheese.

* * * 

I can’t recall exactly the date I got my wish (1/2 year, 1 year or maybe 2 years later) but I do remember I forgot about making it, until:

My father called to me as he came home from work and asked me, “you want this?”  At first I didn’t know what he was referring to and was about to decline, then I noticed it was an old camera inside a leather carrying case.  I said “okay”; this was the only word I could muster during my shock.

How was this possible?  I never told anyone about my wish.

I took the camera from him and said “thanks”.  Then I started planning my next course of action, which included registering for as many photography courses allowable in the curriculum.

And so my love affair with the Spotmatic, non-working light meter and all, began. 

* * * 

As it turned out, a couple of years prior, I ended up attending a high school I technically was not supposed to.  This high school (I later found out) has a respected art department, including a fully equipped darkroom.

I was supposed to go to a high school, according to my postal code/area, infamous for its violence and low academic standards.  However, my brother was fervently against me attending that school, so we had to find somewhere else close by.  My mother had to go to the other school (default school is 2.4km away, the school of choice is 2.9km away from home and my grades were good enough to attend either) and explained (in some instances, passionately so) the reasons I needed to register in this school.

Life can take many paths; it’s usually only one that matters.  I’m still amazed at the twists and impossibility when thinking back on how my wish came true.  And the twists and improbability of what transpired next.


when you least expect it…