Walking through downtown Niagara is like walking through a ghost town. There are no pedestrians and half the storefronts are empty. You can sense the area around the railroad and town square - once bustling - has had all the soul sucked out of it by the chains and casinos. The only stores that show signs of activity are the convenience stores, where the residents go to pick up cigarettes and slurpees. One minute you share the street with bikers and drunks and then the next you crest the hill and it's like another world altogether. Tourists teem the sidewalks, casinos and hotels and rides and theme stores all vie for your attention - it feels like a whole town of Great America, or perhaps like a mini Vegas.
I wasn't really interested in the theme park stuff, and we didn't have the money for it anyway, so we headed straight for the falls. At first it all seemed so far away and small, but once we got to the edge and could see the torrents cascading over the sheer rock face just a few feet away, shit, you gotta be humbled. Standing at the top you get covered in spray and rainbows. It's spectacular!
After hanging out for a bit we went to lunch. J spoiled me by taking me to Denny's (which she hates, but i love and haven't been to in years). Later on we headed back to the falls, stopping off to blow $20 at a casino and substantially less at a 7/11. I was amazed to find convenience stores so easily - in Toronto you can walk for blocks and blocks and never see a single one. When you do, they're pokey and barely even have three different flavors of chips. Niagara has convenience stores with like 20 different jerkies, candy from all over (Canada and the US), hot dogs, the works - i felt like i was in heaven.
Before leaving we went on the boat that takes you right up to the foot of the falls. The view from the walls of the gorge and brink is majestic, but to actually get down there is truly awe-inspiring. Hearing the rushing water all around, getting completely drenched with foam and spray, inhaling the droplets and feeling the wind push your body this way and that... It was like a religious experience. I felt cleansed.
I'd been thinking it all day and leaving the town - awesome skee-ball prizes in hand - i actually felt like i could live there. It occurred to me today that as much as i like to hang shit on small towns, i've spent a lot of my life in them. Most of my life in New Zealand, Holland and California for starters. I remember always missing the city, but now living in a suburb where it takes an hour to get downtown anyway, the freeway drive from a small town doesn't seem like such a big deal any more. I've never lived in an outer suburb like this and the whole thing is very alien to me. I actually felt very comfortable in Niagara with its weird contrast between the superficiality of the cosmopolitan tourist strip and the grittiness of the parochial downtown area - a lot more comfortable than i am in this Jewish McMansion community, that's for sure.
We got on the subway back home just before midnight. J called her mom to come pick us up and it completely deflated the high i was on from having a near-perfect day. I had been feeling so good - we both had - but for me getting "mom" to pick us up instead of taking a bus or taxi just destroyed the fantasy of being on a wonderful trip out of town with my wife. Not that it took away from the trip per se - just suddenly i was back to reality, back living in the parents' house, back living where i can't eat cheese and meat, where four days a week i don't have privacy, where the stores don't have Butterfingers or Big Gulps, where the restaurants don't do Buffalo sauce, where the teenagers have more money in their pockets than i do... Anywho, i got miserable and pouty so J got pissed and went to bed. I hate when a good day ends bad.
You know as many things as we have in common and as wonderful times we can have together there is always going to be some stuff - the suburbs and the family and all that shit - that is just going to be different. Something i've never been very good at is figuring out how to deal with the things you and your partner differ on. Fuck, she took me to Denny's with a smile, should i have accepted the ride with a smile? I dunno. I was just so bummed out, you know when everything is perfect and all you want to do is get home to bed and close your eyes so the day can just continue sweetly into your dreams? Maybe i'm just being selfish again, i can't tell when i'm manic. Blar.
Overall, though, Niagara Falls, fucking awesome.