friday: about thursday
16/07/2010 § 1 Comment
I waited. I wanted to experience a full day of something because I had nothing to write about. Yes, there were things that happened — class, hangs, conversations, coffees, the heat, Dick Cheney’s heart transplant (or implant) — but, I was feeling uninspired. There was no energy, no gusto, no flame in my fingertips. I was getting frustrated, so instead of pounding my fist to my head, pulling at my cheeks, lines increasing, elasticity losing, I decided to run some errands. In the heat of the day.
Closer to the end of the day, I left my bike at the shop to have some maintenance done. Her squeaking was getting embarrassing. I was beginning to feel like a new mom with her temperamental child that was always whining and protesting about ice cream and repetitiously proclaiming, “but I don’ wanna”.
I walked over to This Ain’t The Rosedale, a local bookshop in Kensington Market, one of the only one’s with counter-culture media. To my shock and horror, I was greeted by a vacant venue, windows already dusty, the fluorescent FOR RENT signs like citronella to my eyes. How could this happen, here of all neighbourhoods?
Reading the posted bailiff claim, an older man, in his 50s or 60s, wandered over to state the obvious, his accent thick, but his words carrying an intellectual cadence.
– Yes, dear. This place is no longer open. Just yesterday, I spoke with the owner, Charlie. This lady here, she wants $40,000 in back pay. Replevy, they call it. Charlie cannot afford such costs.
– Yeah, I can’t believe it. Such a shame. It was a good bookstore, I absently replied, jotting down the information about the lawyer.
The man pulled up his slacks by the knee, exposing his leather shoes and mid-calfed socks, taking a seat on the only chair by the darkened door. Clean-shaven and eyes bright, he asked me some questions:
– Are you a writer? You look like a writer. A playwrite, yes?
– Well, uh, actually, no, but I am in the midst of a …
– I can tell by the way you dress. You see, I am a writer. I was good friends with Charlie because he is a writer and his son, Jese, is a writer. You can tell.
– You are a writer?
– Yes, I am from Yugoslavia.
– Oh. But, you write in English?
– English?! My god, no, my dear, I write in my own language, what would I have to write about in English?
– Uh. The same things?
He proceeded to tell me his opinions about Canada — for which were low, calling it a “comfortable prison” — and World politics — recommending a website of informal news, rense.com — and his love for Latin culture — having spent time in Mexico and Cuba. His ideas emitted substance, they were almost tangible, as if they had been solidified over years of thought and provocation.
Nevertheless, there was a forgiving quality about this man, an openness for dissent. Despite the alcohol on his breath, the rosy cheeks from an afternoon sun sipping on something, his speech was inviting. I decided to probe further into his mind.
– Tell me, then, how do we fix this problem of small businesses closing? It’s prolific and endemic. What would you do?
– You know, my dear, there is no discourse, today. You have people getting together and talking about silly things, supercilious things, and we stopped talking about the things that matter. People get ideas in their heads and they stick to them instead of having them challenged and adapting them. This World, oh my dear, oh my God, this World is headed towards ruin. Take a look around you, everything that is good is being destroyed. Now in Latin America, that is where you should be. Or the United States. They are all unhappy, but at least they have a sense of culture.
– Why don’t you move to Latin America? Why did you move here from the United States? Why are you here?
– My lady, I am from Yugoslavia. Here, it is easier to survive.
Right now in his life, all he needed was to make it to “the end” as slowly as possible. Turmoil was not another event he could endure. It made me think of what it means to be the youth, when you have so much energy and so much fire, and then watching it burn out as time snuffs the flame.
Still, when recounting my time down South to him, Nic, I could see the sparkle in his eyes ignite. He would slap his knee and hold his face exclaiming, “My lady, that is absolutely incredible!”
Thursday made me realize that there is an ember of life in everyone that can never be extinguished. It provided me the push I need: Don’t burn out.