in a park.
19/01/2011 § Leave a comment
The power of a park grounds me.
So it was, the other day I took my book to read on a bench, prying me away from my virtual self. How I happened to get key-locked confused me. Outside. b outside.
As a teen, I was always outside the cardboard confines of the indoors. At school, I would persistently ask the teacher if we could take this outside. I think she thought I was asking her to fight. Truth was, I didn’t like her boorish and dogmatic ways very much. Perhaps she could sense that, but the real reason was for the class to sit on the damp, muddied, too-baked grassy knolls behind Carleton Place High School.
I have a friend who feels the same way about fresh air and the outdoors. Post-adolescence, I remember riding the street-car with A-dude from my parents’ apartment in the Beaches to downtown. She cracked the window open despite the minus-something Canadian climatude.
“I just can’t breathe everyone else’s breath. Makes me feel queasy.”
“Coxwell? Seriously, they named a street Coxwell?”
I laughed out loud.
My first day here I purchased two roommates, Fred & Geraldo. The first one is pretty, with fernous leaves and small, white flowers, whereas Geraldo is tall and lanky and smells of basil. He is basil. Sometimes, I wonder if he feels slightly abused or relishes that he is saucily used. Still, I need more greenery around me than those flora-heads.
So, I got outside.
One-and-a-half blocks from my apartment there is a park with trees that Lizerton would love. For this reason, I sat on a bench that was partially covered in loomy shade, but on the sunny side. Within moments, I was approached by three children with bruised knees and wide smiles.
“Pardon me, miss, but do you have a cent to spare?”
“No, sorry ladies. I don’t even have a cent on me.”
“Miss, why are you out in the park all by yourself? Where is your boyfriend?”
“Well, little ladies, I am reading in the park on my own because I like to.”
“What are you reading, miss? Will you read to us?”
“It’s in English, so it might sound different, but of course. Ok, well I just started a new chapter so, here it goes… ‘Mr Cavendish? Are we awake?’ A licorice snake on a field of cream wriggles into focus. The number five. November 5. Why does my old John Thomas hurt so? A prank? My God, I have a tube stuck up my willy!… Ok. Umm. Welll.”
I embarrassingly chuckled and while the kids were laughing out loud, not at the what the words meant, but at the sound. They begged me to continue, so I did and as I did I noticed something profound: All three of them glued their eyes to the page, trying to decipher how I could speak such gobbledygook from those inked-symbols on paper. But, eventually, they were over it.
“Miss, miss! I am going to put a braid in your hair!”
“Miss, miss! I am going to give you a hug!”
“We are from Paraguay!”
“Oh, really. When did you move here?”
“No, we were born here but are from Paraguay!”
“Hey, sisters, what do you think about that guy over there?”
There was a camera-ed man sitting on a bench with a map in hand.
“Miss, are you sure you don’t have one cent on you?”
“No ladies. Nothing but this book.”
Off they flew to the man on the bench and started tugging at his map. He scowled and ignored them, pulled his stuff away, eventually getting up and walking out of the park. I watched from the corner of my eye as the girls began to push and tug at each other. Each one running after the other, around the fenced in park, chuckling, squealing out loud.
It was a moment of wonder and hope.
I looked down on the page and read, “Sweet fantasy. Cancer to the cure.”
It was a moment that rooted me.