Okay okay, I have to admit the title is a bit click bait-y, even for me. But after recently hitting the one year mark living in Ottawa again after ten amazing years in Toronto, I have to admit it’s not the city I once knew. Over the last few years Ottawa seems to have propelled itself forward in exciting ways, has developed distinct and incredible neighborhoods, and has me a bit flabbergasted at how cool its become. Let me tell you why!
Now you have to understand before you start composing the emails and mean tweets that I was born in Montréal and grew up between that city and Toronto. Ottawa became home late-ish in my developmental years as a young man and when I came out of the closet in my late twenties, it wasn’t what I needed or wanted as a community. It was fun, I made a lot of friends, but I wanted more from the city I called home. So in 2013 I packed up my life and moved to Toronto where I flourished, started the blog, met Julio and lived ten incredible years with more memories than I can recount in one blog post.
Flash forward to December of 2021 and I sat back and watched as Meta had an Ottawa event.
Entirely dedicated to Ottawa and the local businesses, and amplified by Ottawa based content creators. That honestly blew my mind – not only because I have such admiration for Meta and Instagram, but that Ottawa was (and has been) so important to recognize as a community and city and it was finally getting its due.
Not to mention years prior Nordstrom opened in Ottawa before anywhere else in the country – something I proudly covered before any other media publication did I might add. 😎 Click here to check it out!
Ottawa has in many instances held amazing events (let’s not with the occupation right now, I’m still realing from that), brand launches and first of its kind opportunities in the province and country. But no one paid attention!
The light rail (issues aside), Ottawa 150, the development of Landsdowne, and so many more things have happened in a decade and I honestly am happily surprised to see the city feeling more youthful and vibrant than it did when I left.
Now again, the opinions of a 20 something year old gay me should come with a proverbial grain of salt, but I find myself exploring new areas, eating at new restaurants, making new friends and reconnecting with some incredible people in ways I didn’t think possible. If I admit it to myself, there was a certain part of me that worried coming back would mean defeat – but in fact it’s the opposite. I am thriving where I am while we save for adoption and starting our family.
Do I miss Toronto? Of course I do. But Ottawa has definiitely found its way back into my heart in ways I never thought possible and for that I am proud to say it’s #MyOttawa now too.
Sappy? A bit. But hey, when has that ever surprised you if you’ve been following along with me over the past almost ten years.
So what next for me here in the city? I’m loving my new job, Julio is moving here full time to be with me, and MAYBE I’ll get to work officially with Meta on the next round of content creator events. Pride month is around the corner and I am quite fabulous I’m told. 😜 I make jokes about it a lot, but I would love to land a campaign or moment in my career before the blog turns ten in January where I can get verified on social media. It may seem silly to some of you, but it means a lot to me.
So while we head into the warmer months together and I continue to share my #DoTheDaniel & #DanielsDish adventures here and on social media, I am going to put that into the universe. May the rest of 2022 bring us happiness, recognition, prosperity and most of all joy. Because each and every one of us deserves a little more joy in our lives, wouldn’t you agree?
Photos: Daniel Reyes Cocka & all social media accounts listed above
Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year
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