I'm not from around these parts.
Spend more than five minutes in conversation with me and it'll become obvious that I've spent most of my life in Ottawa. I still sometimes pronounce Portage as Por-tahj, I'm used to the local hockey team winning games, and after my time with the transit system back in the nation's capital I find Winnipeg's buses delightful.
When I came to Winnipeg to work for three months in June, I felt a little lonely. More than anything, I missed my "hip" neighbourhoods back in Ottawa. I missed the streets where I could go to buy an overpriced coffee, pop into my local Banana Republic, then spend my afternoon sipping microbrew at a pub you've probably never heard of.
So when I found Osborne Street, I knew that I had found my niche in the city.
Osborne Street is like a perfect little micro-verse where I can find everything I need on my weekends. After sleeping in on a Saturday, I usually go down to A Little Pizza Heaven for my weekly unhealthy breakfast. The smell of pizza, coupled with the '80s arcade and pinball machines, sends me right back to my high school summers working in fast food. Some days the nostalgia is so strong I listen to The Venga Boys on repeat until my longing for the 1990s has passed.
After pizza, I like to do my weekly grocery shopping at the organic food store. If I feel like spending some money, I'll buy some cinnamon buns, then go to the park on River Avenue with a novel and curl up under a tree. If I'm still hungry, I'll grab a dessert at Baked Expectations. After that, I'll probably feel guilty for eating so much and take a walk down by the river.
Osborne Street is more than just a neighbourhood with a higher-than-average percentage of men with messenger bags. Osborne is like that friend that you know will always help you out when you're in need. When I was supposed to meet a girl for a date a few weeks back, I was terrified at having to choose the venue. How was I supposed to know where in the city to have a good first date?
But as always, Osborne had my back. I suggested we meet up on the corner of River and Osborne. We walked down the street, and within three minutes my date had noticed at least five places she "really liked hanging out in." All I had to do then was decide which of those places we'd go to. Thanks Osborne.
They say Winnipeg grows on you, and I can say with absolute certainty how true that phrase is.
When I first came here, I wasn't used to your friendly people, streets that seem to never have traffic jams (compared to Ottawa), and fierce pride that you seem to take in your local teams (I still can't figure out whether you love or hate the Blue Bombers).
After a while I made a realization: all those things are what make Winnipeg great. I like friendly people. I don't like traffic jams.
Slowly I started wondering why I ever loved Ottawa in the first place.
But I think I know why. Ottawa was like my emotionally distant ex who I loved because she never treated me right, and I kept trying to win her over. Winnipeg by comparison is the friend who was always nice to me, and I never noticed her.
But now Winnipeg has won me over to its way of life. Still, every now and then, I need my organic cinnamon buns and ridiculously priced coffee. And Osborne gives me that.