At any rate though, I am home. Happy to report that the train ride home went smoothly aside from a brief period of apprehension on my part when we stopped at the Brantford station and I checked the weather in Chatham to see that there was a tornado watch, and then took a good, hard look out the window at the ominously dark sky, and genuinely started to wonder what would happen with the train if a tornado did touch down - would that be the bad thing that dad foresaw? Where would they make us stay, and how would I get home from wherever we were forced to get off? Thankfully the most that happened was some strong rain, but it still was a stressful ten minutes or so. As for Toronto, even though we didn't do everything planned (we never made it out to Canada's Wonderland, for example), I really enjoyed it. Will I go back again? Almost certainly, as in comparison to Dan's saying he enjoyed having me around last time, Xion told me to "not be a stranger" and to come back again sometime, because he enjoyed my company, as well as a couple other things starting with the same letter (namely, cookies and cake). Before I get into a detailed account of the memorable parts of the week though, the best and worst parts are as follows.
The best was - only marginally edging out a couple other things - Xion and the guy I only know as Chris on Sunday afternoon. I don't want to call them mates after my past experiences with the word, but they are more than just friends at any rate, so on Sunday afternoon, I was off in my bed (in the same room as them), and they were on theirs. I can't remember exactly how it came to Chris having Xion effectively locked between his legs (in fun, of course), but he did, and try as he might, Xion was having quite a bit of difficulty breaking free. Eventually he did though, only for Chris to trap him again, and I guess that was just too much. He started laughing, and you know how sometimes when you're laughing, you go completely quiet for a short period to catch your breath, and then come back even harder? That's exactly what happened. I knew it was going to be good as soon as he went quiet, but I did not count on him eventually throwing his head back (directly toward me), and pretty much howling with laughter. I actually teared up myself at that point, and for the entire train ride home, got a hearty chuckle and grin out of the memory every time it came back to me. The best single word I can think of to describe it would be "adorable". Both of them were, and that it happened on what was already a good morning made it all that much better.
On the other side of things, however, the worst part was another roommate. I mentioned him last time too, but to reiterate, I'm talking about Bungee. I don't really mind being poked or scritched or hugged. That's fine, and the only reason I didn't initiate much of the same contact with any of the people there was that I don't really like touching people unless I have reason to. That being said, I did poke Xion at least once after he did the same to me, and shook Chris's hand when I first met him, and shared a bed with Dan, but what I dislike is... oh, having fingers stuck into my armpits, which are then wafted in front of my nose or put in my mouth. Weird as that may sound, it did happen, and I didn't say anything at the time because I thought it was just another thing furries did, but after some thinking have decided that it's not about trying to meet other peoples' standards and ways of acting. It's about how I feel, and in regards to him, I feel uncomfortable. It's like there's this thing between us (as evidenced by his (once again completely real) comment of "Hey, stinky pits. Murr~") in his mind, whereas I do not want that. Unfortunately, it didn't help that pretty much every time he did that I just smiled / grinned and did my best to make it look like I didn't mind, but at any rate, that will have to be settled before a third visit, whenever that may be. It would be easier to contact him online though, so if and when I sort out the difficulties I'm having with MSN / Pidgin, maybe I'll be able to get his email address and say "I'm not comfortable with what you were doing before, and I didn't say anything back then because I thought I just didn't get it".
Anyways, on the lighter side of things, I made up a relatively complete list of other memorable moments before going to bed last night, which I will write about in a cut so this entry doesn't get too long.
a] Somewhat self-centered, but also on Sunday afternoon, after the fun mentioned above, Xion randomly said he wanted my stomach. For context, he is what I would call pudgy, so obviously he meant my figure. First of all, that was quite a compliment for me considering I was fairly certain I'd gained some weight since going there. Last time that wasn't an issue, because my mind was too overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds and smells and other such stimuli to really care about eating, whereas this second time I went, I felt the same way for the first two days or so, but after that I became acclimated to my surroundings, and the desire to eat came roaring back. As for Xion though, he went on to ask how I kept in shape considering all the things I baked, and my answer was a (slightly too simple) quick "When I need to, I keep track of what I eat". He seemed content with that, but still, for me, it was a nice thing to be told <3
b] As mentioned above, Xion and Chris were more or less goofing off on Sunday afternoon. What I didn't mention there, however, was that they were both naked, which I'd become used to after the second day of seeing the two of them and Dan periodically walking around without any clothes on. It might be ironic how I didn't mind that but did mind Bungee being handsy with me, but the three of them weren't directly affecting me in any way, whereas he was. In any case, I say that because some of the things they were talking about and occasionally saying to me were decidedly personal. More or less not things I would - being somebody they'd only known for about a week and a half - not expect to be told. But still they did, and that was when Xion told me to not be a stranger, and to come back sometime, additionally mentioning that I should be able to see how comfortable he was around me. That was another nice compliment, being told that I engender comfort, and knowing that he - not to mention other people - likes being around me.
c] Last time I went to Toronto, I was saddened by the fact that even though Dan and Xion saw me to the departures area of the train station, they left before the train to go home arrived. This time, however, only Dan came along, because Xion had company (Chris), but still saw me right up to the escalator up to the train platform, which was truly nice. I would've liked to have given him a quick hug to say goodbye just before that point, but he still waited in line with me, and was there until the last possible moment, which I truly appreciated.
d] While waiting in Union Station with me, Dan said - in reference to my bag full of left-over baking supplies - that next time I visit, I would be better off leaving those things there for next time. This is significant to me not only for being told that I can leave things at their apartment if need be, but also for that it implies that there will be a next time after next time, or put a different way, that he'd like to have me back more than once in the future. I'm not used to such appreciation, so I really like how that felt / feels <3
e] We went to the zoo twice. Once on Wednesday, and once on Saturday. The second time we went, a small stand selling dessert-like items called Beaver Tails was open, so we eventually made our way around there to try them. Dan opted for one with just cinnamon and sugar on it, whereas I went the "deluxe" (his word) route, and asked for the kind that came with apples. In retrospect, that was a bad idea, but at the time, I paid, waited for a minute for it to be made, and then went over to an empty bench to sit down and eat, where I proceeded to make an awful mess of myself. There was caramel syrup / sauce on my shirt, and pants, and the bench I was sitting on, and all over my face, and on my hands, and on my arms, and inexplicably on my camera, which was just... not fun at the time, but something that gives me a smile to think back on. Dan actually took a picture of me trying to eat it too, but I forgot to ask him to send me a link to it then, but when he gets back from Oshawa... Probably the best part of it though was him laughing at me. Not cruel laughter, but rather the kind that says "I find this really funny, and I'm laughing to express how I feel". Shared amusement is fun, I guess, even if I was a bit too messy to be amused at the time.
f] On Wednesday night, we went to the Queensway Cineplex to see a movie with the passes I was given at work. Specifically, we went to see Thor at Chris's recommendation (apparently it had something to do with the fact that we walked along Norseman Street on the way to the theater), which I really liked, but what wasn't so nice was when the movie ended and we walked back out to the front doors to see it pouring rain. Ultimately we ended up walking home in it which was about how you'd expect, but it stuck out overall. Walking home in the rain is something I only did alone up until now, but what's also worth mentioning is / are the thoughts that were running through my mind before we left the theater. I had more than enough to pay for all of us to take the bus home. It would have only been $12, but I was extremely reluctant to, because of how much I'd been trying to help and be nice to other people up until then. In other words, I didn't want to cross the "paying money to be friends with somebody" threshold. As such it was quite a stressful ten minutes or so, but as soon as we set out I started to feel better. Next time I'll try to be a little more even with giving versus taking, in order to hopefully avoid that happening a second time.
g] I was supposed to leave on Saturday, but ended up staying until Sunday so we could go to the zoo a second time. That in and of itself isn't unusual, because I'd been planning it for a couple days before exchanging my ticket, but what I hadn't counted on was getting myself to Union Station, without Dan there to guide me on the subway. Obviously I was successful though, meaning that next time I go I can save him some money by being able to get to the apartment on my own, but in the meantime, I can't help getting caught up in how gratifying it is to have that additional bit of independence. Oh, sure, the subway system is probably trivial to navigate once you get used to it, but for me, I had to put directions from Google Maps, as well as the complete subway system map from TTC's site on my PSP, but I no longer need those. Getting from Union Station to Dan's apartment is a simple matter of following these steps: from the arrivals area in Union Station, head to the right into the larger area with a bunch of food stands, and walk straight until you see a set of doors with a banner above them mentioning the subway. Go through those, and continue straight through the outdoor area to the actual subway station. From there, you can either buy tokens from the attendant, or pay $3 cash to move through the turnstiles, but after you've done that, simply go downstairs, and wait for the Northbound to Downsview (there's a sign on the wall that says that) train. When it arrives, get on, and take it up to St. George station. Get off there, head around and down the escalator, then board the Westbound to Kipling train. Get off that at the Islington station, head up the escalator or stairs, walk through the turnstile, head up another flight of stairs (or take the escalator), turn around and walk down the sidewalk to the left, and when you reach the underpass, take the "Pedestrian Entrance" staircase. At the top of that, the apartment building right up in front of you is where Dan, Xion, Bungee, and Kinjry live. Simple, and it's pretty much the same in reverse, but with the directions reversed, of course <3
h] One of the things I noticed on Sunday afternoon was that I was alot more talkative. I was joking around with Xion about being too far away to save him from Chris when he called for help, meanwhile I was in the other bed right next to them, and when we went to the zoo on Saturday, was much more talkative than I had been the previous time we went. I am obviously becoming comfortable with being around them, but for me that is enormously significant. It took me a couple months to reach the same point with George, but even setting the amount of time aside, that hasn't happened too many times in my life. Being able to open up and be myself around somebody and enjoy their company and just like them as a friend is a really good feeling, and it was truly nice noticing the same with Xion, Dan, and Chris. Not Bungee for reasons I mentioned above, and the most Kinjry said to me was an invitation to come out for pizza with him and Dan, which I declined because I didn't want to eat too much. It is of some significance to me <3
i] On Thursday, a couple other friends of Dan's came over. Their names were Skyler and Dave, and they were staying for several days to go to Anime North. I didn't talk to them all that much either (although I did let Dave (I think it was Dave) play PoPoLoCrois on my PSP, which is unusual because I tend to not share such things with other people), but on Saturday night I made apple crisp, and Dan came out into the kitchen just as it was coming out of the oven, so he asked either Skyler or Dave (only one of them was in the living room at the time) if they wanted any. He said yes, and thus ended up getting the bowl that I'd set aside for myself. When Dan took it out to him he said "Thank you", to which Dan responded by saying "You're welcome, and Karadur made it". That much isn't unusual, because I'd become mostly used to hearing Dan say my name, but what I wasn't expecting was hearing whoever it was (either Skyler or Dave) say "Thank you very much, Karadur", as I was on my way back into Xion's room to enjoy my own bowl. It's like it's not unusual hearing people who I've spoken to under that name using it, so hearing somebody I don't know that well referring to me by the same is kind of odd. It's a good kind of odd, though, and being thanked was really nice too <3
j] As mentioned somewhere above, Dan and I shared a bed for the last three nights I was there. Meanwhile, last time / the first time I went, I specifically said that I'd prefer to have my own place to sleep, because at the time I wasn't comfortable sharing a bed with somebody else. As such, you might ask "What happened this time then?" More or less, I'm familiar with Dan now, and comfortable enough being around him to share a bed. Of course, bearing that in mind, nothing indecent happened, and in fact, I kept my pants on while sleeping those three nights, as compared to taking them off and just sleeping in my shorts before that. It's just of interest in that it's not something I was comfortable with doing last time, which thus reveals how much things eventually changed this time in order to allow for that.
k] Since coming home last night, I've been feeling and seeing things that shouldn't be there, or that aren't really happening, such as laying still in bed, but meanwhile feeling as if my body is moving like it would on the subway. Or how about seeing lights such as you would out a window on my left while laying in bed, when the only things over there were my wall and the door to the spare room? I also immediately noticed how much more muffled my room is to either of the ones I slept in there. Walking around or moving about in bed made clear, crisp sounds in Toronto, whereas here, the same sounds "feel" like they're farther away. I only mention this because it's kind of an odd sensation spending just over a week in one environment, then suddenly moving back to another. It just makes me wonder what work will be like when I go back there...
l] Finally, I now have a Toronto Zoo membership, good until March 28th of next year. Or rather, I have a stand-in membership slip which is as good as a membership card, but only until the actual card arrives in the mail. Hopefully sometime this week, but it feels good to be committed, albeit only for a year. I didn't pay $47 just to get the card, so as with being told that I would be better off leaving my baking supplies at the apartment next time, it enforces the idea that I'll be going back, and I definitely do want to go back <3 Not until Fall or Winter though, primarily because I need to recover the money I spent over the past week, but I am going back. It may be awkward considering yet another new person is supposed to be moving in next month, I think, but the fact that people want me to come back negates any apprehension related to too many things changing between visits. What I do need to do though is find some new recipes for cakes and cookies, but as my train of thought started to derail six or seven points ago, I'm going to end this cut right here.
Now I am off to go make some supper and fuss with Ubuntu a bit more. Seeing Dan using it over the past week made me want to try that OS again, so I installed Wubi upon getting home, which has no sound. As I recall, the same happened when I tried using the Live CD before, but this time I have a couple pages of different things that might fix that. As well, I'd like to try using a different OS, because at this point, I know and understand pretty much everything I need to about Windows 7. As such, getting used to Ubuntu would provide me with a nice challenge, and for the moment, hardware issues are proving to be about the same as trying to customize Firefox exactly to my liking before. I could even spend the rest of the night on that, but first, I need to eat~