10/12/2010 § Leave a comment
01/12/2010 § 2 Comments
On the third floor of an old Victorian house, I sat with a beautiful being. Her shirt was black and loose silk, falling from her shoulders like a gentle hug. Her eyes deep and pensive. She was cutting an onion and it made her eyes water.
“I’m sorry, my hands are shaking.”
There were three of us eating rosemary chicken and greens drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt on a table made of metal sheet on a box. The lady told me of her travels abroad, living in different shapes and learning to exist within her means. Then she told me,
“Confronting change is like jumping off a cliff. Standing at the edge, you are afraid of the leap. Then you jump and the fall is not as scary as you thought it would be.”
With that, we buried our meals and washed them back with Scotch and Sherry. We were going to watch a friend play a Nick Drake tribute at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church. We were going to be late.
We were riding fast like a flock. We let the cyclist of the group navigate the route and guide us through dark alleys and lamp lit streets. We were heading North.
We were sitting in the top pews looking down on an illuminated string section, the organ pipes rising behind them. Iron cast. The music played and I glued my eyes shut with the water they were making. We moved closer to each other and held onto one another’s hands and legs. Our vulnerability making us stronger by tying us together.
Downstairs, we start dancing even though the music has stopped. “It lives in here!” said the beautiful creature, pointing to her heart.
Four of us are at a bar discussing adventures and thoughts. Not only what we enjoy, but why we do. These things remind us of home and the us that we are. It is a beautiful moment. For some reason, that moment reminds me of a friend, one who peeled a whole Clementine and passed it to me. “Every Christmas, this is what my Uncle Dave would do. Pass us these peeled little guys.”
The small moments are so beautiful.
By the end of the night, I lay shattered in a parking lot. I slid off my bicycle and she is fine, but my bones and ego are bruised. A softness oozed, like clear sap trickles in the Spring, and I could not keep it in. My friend sat with me and collected the drops, telling me about how people are so important and to not shut them out.
Humanity is a beautiful thing because each of us seem so small, but are able to impact one another with an indescribable profoundness: Through our memories and experiences with them.
02/09/2010 § Leave a comment
The heat is debilitating. It can un-inspire us because we can barely stomach the thought of eating. We crave the taste of crunchy air, something to bite into, to give us a zest of fresh morning, something to nourish our minds with. In a country of extremes, we have learned how to work really hard, play really hard, unable to balance in the grey. The in-between seasons are too short for that.
With the last day of the late heat wave, I look for my winter clothes, packed deep in the closet closest to the paint and tools. Time to air them out, they are dusty and have not been worn in many months.
While flapping jackets, I am reminded of two regulars that come into the coffee shop because they stand out from our typical buggy-pushing crowd. I don’t know how, but they have adopted the names “Whiskey” and “Go-Go”.
Whiskey is a long-faced lady who comes in multiple times a day to order a small double-double. I have only seen her face light up when she orders her coffee, just a coffee, and have noticed that it resumes its downward pull when she sits in solitude to observe the neighbourhood pass her by.
Go-Go is her friend that she brings into the shop occasionally. She is a quieter lady and will come to the counter to ask for a glass for some water. She will quickly return to her seat to vacantly listen to Whiskey get stuff off her chest. Both look much older than they probably are, as though a little beaten up by downward glances.
Yesterday, working with B-rent, he told me a story about Whiskey:
“One day, she just laughed out loud: ‘Ha! Looking at all these dusty people makes my stomach turn.’ Funny we laugh because she was just saying out loud what most people are thinking.”
We got quiet and got back to work.
We pack these thoughts away, but they can eat us. We can put our heads down, turn away our glances, and continue working. Sometimes, we need moments to share what we are truly thinking, like Whiskey does with her go-to girl, Go-Go.
01/09/2010 § Leave a comment
We push for the pull of weekend getaways, the ones we fantasized from films and photos, needing to get to anywhere but here. We look at far-away points and places and figure, “that could be us.” But, where do our pillows truly lay?
We planned a night in the wilderness, amidst trees and fields and close to the water. Where everything you need is at your fingertips and anything you want lay on the pillows back home. Our simplicity is scary.
A couple of days ago, the heat had returned to Toronto making the smooth lines of an approaching Autumn crinkle from perspiration. It was a day of celebration, so Cam,Liz & I were riding to grab a caffeinated beverage from the Sam James Coffee Bar. We had jingles on our minds, “Well, we know where we’re going, but we don’t know where we been!”
Sitting slouched against a white-washed wall, hands clasped around coffee cups, they asked, “So, do you know where you guys are going, tomorrow?”
“No,” I answered. “We are just going to pack up and go on an adventure. Due North.”
The next day, time was taken before the adeventure. It did not pull us in and we did not push back, we wiped the notion of a schedule clean due to post-cupcake-&-Creemore celebrations. Both of us another year older and feeling no different, but feeling the change. Any anticipation of the unknown was ironed while talking with Anna over eggies-in-a-basket and a third-of-a-glass of Tropicana to share between the three of us. We talked about movements and change, in one way or another, of people coming and going and time not ever standing still. “Girl, I will miss you, but will love seeing you when I do.”
After Anna left, we picked up the car and headed North on roads to nowhere. This was our weekend and we were ready to battle. We decided to take the back roads relying on our sense of direction and want of a challenge.
First Keele Street, through the forgotten corners of the Greater Toronto Area, everyone looking tired, drivers cutting in, horns honking as people rush to get away, me honking not trusting their driving, not trusting my own, Mr. P saying how funny cars remove us from our awareness, not knowing how dangerous we can be, then Dufferin Street, north of the 407, the one that begins off some back road as a continuum of city dreaming, then Yonge Street, taking a wrong turn only to find Best Asia Farms with signs that read “No Exit” and “Private Road”, the smell of cilantro peppering our noses as we came to the dead end where we needed to turn around, noticing a field with illuminated leaves set in deep dark chocolate earth, 5 or 6 workers wearing hats with conical tendencies, like we had dug our way to the other side of the world on this road that led nowhere, driving out with weird glances turned our way, emerging back into rural Ontario, then Leslie Street, turning into a general store to buy chips and paper towel and ice cream sandwiches and pepperettes. The car was full, but we were running on empty.
“I think we made a wrong turn, I should have brought a map, I can’t think right now, and drive and choose some place, I don’t know where to go, Lake Drive? Tell me what to do. Be my navigator.”
We pulled into a free-parking zone by a beach in some place we did not know the name of. The sun had begun to set but the heat still stuck into us. We needed food and fuel and a minute to catch our breath, air fresh from the lake. There was the Variety Store across the street from the lot that was selling sausages. It was run by a Dutch man who pulled in business from people like us, the ones pushing to find a little quiet somewhere on a beach. Sausages in hand, we flipped off our shoes and sat sizzling in the sun, finding no relief from the gurgling water, it sounding more like a kettle boiling over. “No, I’m done with this. I don’t really like water, I never really have, I don’t know why, it makes me uncomfortable, it puts flips in my belly, the sound is not soothing, it makes me nauseous. Can we go?”
“Of course, m’dear. I wonder what it is about water. If something happened and it attached somewhere in you.”
We drove up and down Lake Drive, looking for a space to lay our one pillow, Roches Point, Jackson’s Point, no sign of parks or campgrounds, back tracks and turn arounds, getting dizzy and sleepy, finally finding a beach to rest, where the water was far enough away and it, too, lay still, other than the splashing around of a group of people. Staring at the sky, the stars became brighter with the sun receding. It had been too long since I had seen the Milky Way. “Um, excuse me, is that your Honda? The parking lot is closed for the night and the beach is closed at 10. You are going to have to pack up and move along.”
“Yeah, of course. Do you know where we can find a campsite?”
“Yeah, uh, I think, just down there on Metro Road, maybe five minutes you will find something,” his buttered Dutch accent nervous with having to deal with the youth in the water.
Back in the car we got out of the parking lot, turned left and turned right, noticing there were no signs, not knowing where Metro Road was, nor being able to see it, then down Woodbine, we had made it east enough to Woodbine, then through a series of false turns back onto Dufferin Street heading south as the half-moon, yellow with young night, was traveling with us on the left, then my lids getting leaded and needing some sleep, we can drive back to the city you know, I can make it, we can sleep in a bed, no, no, keep going, here pull off here on the shoulder, the car won’t get towed, we have cell phones if it does, then climbing over a fence and through a forest to a field that belonged to a farmer, so back into the forest where we lay a blanket down. “Mr. P, are there bears and wolves and coyotes?”
“Yes, m’dear, but they don’t like humans, they will stay far, far away from us. But, we do have a bag of food… Sleep, sleep”
A few swats at mosquitoes and I couldn’t fight the exhaustion. My heart rate slowed and I began to drift.
Yip, yip, awoooooo! something howled.
“No. Nope. I can’t do this,” I blurted while pulling the blanket out from under Mr. P.
Climbing back over the fence and into the car, reclining the seats and sliding the sun-roof open inviting the air of the night while keeping the coyotes at bay, I put the one pillow behind my head and slept and tossed and fidgeted until I could no longer fight the fury of slumber. There were moments throughout the night that I looked up through the sun roof and saw the moon glide by in stages. Inside the car was reassuring, even though I knew we were not going anywhere. So removed, feeling dangerously sleepy, I lay my head on the pillow and did not move until morning.
Waking up, a shield of grey clouds made my hips creak with heaviness. Each readjustment of my position made my body shift back into place. I grabbed a ripened peach from the back and bit down to the pit. Looking over I noticed Mr. P had used a roll of paper towel as his pillow. Our heads were different and now they seemed fresh.
We knew where we would be going that day, home to real pillows and inner-city breezes. It gave us the opportunity to pay attention to the changing scenery. We talked about the rolling terrain that turned into suburbia, again noticing the deep furrows and long faces of people rushing.
“It doesn’t have to be a sad place if you don’t think of it as such. You should be able to find happiness wherever you are.”
I don’t know where we were — somewhere between Points and places — and I knew we were going back to the city, but I still questioned where life’s road would lead. My battle wounds are internal and need mending with time.
In the windy city, sipping on a cup of coffee and running into good people put things into perspective. The seasons are changing and so are we and it doesn’t matter because we may not always see each other but will love it when we do, where our roads cross, before we sleep.