This has been one of those days where my memories were filled with images of huge crowds celebrating together–which can only make me wistful and a little melancholy.
It was just one year that I stood outside my downtown office with thousands of other fans, eagerly awaiting the Raptors Championship parade. Pretty much everyone had escaped out of my office to go watch and celebrate. It took hours for the parade to reach us, hours when I worried about not wearing sunblock, but finally, the parade trucks finally reached us and we celebrated Toronto’s first major-sport championship since 1993. It feels like it happened a week ago. The things that happened a week ago feel like they happened a year ago. Such is the weirdness of time.
It’s been five years since the first Rush R40 show in Toronto–I believe it was also a Wednesday. I’d heard all the rumours that this might be their last tour–so after acquiring a 13th row seat for the June 19 performance, I had decided to go ahead and get a ticket for the earlier show as well. My seat was on the floor, towards the back. I took the day off, but came into town early so I could go to a RushCon pre-meetup at the Casey’s at Front and York Sts. I’d finally made it to a couple of RushCons in previous years, and they’d scheduled a bit of a mini-con in Toronto for the two concerts held there, with a bigger one scheduled in LA for the final concert in August. I wasn’t quite up for that (we’d only just been to California in May) but this was an OK substitute. So I showed up at the restaurant before the concert, talked to a few people, and then was approached by the women who run RushCon with an offer–to experience the concert FROM THE FRONT ROW! And so, one of those bucket list items was checked off the list. Filming was being done for a video at both of the Toronto concerts, and I was hopeful I’d see myself, but except for a brief clip in one song, I’m not there–because the bulk of the video ended up being based on the second show two nights later, which was quite a bit tighter from a performance standpoint. But that was certainly not the point–the experience was, and it was amazing.
I think most Rush fans knew in their hearts that this was the end, but I think we were expecting there might be solo albums, maybe more books by Neil Peart–and there was one, called Far and Wide, documenting the final tour. But then, nothing more than a few blog posts not long after the book. We now know that it’s because Neil had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, which the general public did not know until his death on January 7. 2020 has been a bastard of a year.
But hey, the Raptors are still the reigning NBA champions. We (Still) the North!