The rain intrudes on our rooftop picnic, so Mom, Cathy, Elaine and Mia and I take the party down to my apartment. We still have a good time, and are joined by Kelsey later. Anyway, you have to forgive rainy skies that can produce post-event shows like this.
Saturday, Ceri and I are at a local pub having a late afternoon beer and snack, and at the table next to us are three people having a conversation about work. We know this because the voice of the guy dominating the conversation gets louder and louder as his stories progress. He’s bitter. Apparently his employers are idiots and have created a horribly unhappy environment to work in. He talks about how he would manage the sorry people he is forced to work with, and tells tales of one in particular. He talks about how he would “fire her ass” and about how good he was at firing people when he was the boss. The conversation goes on and on and the guy gets louder and more incensed with every tale of the horribleness of his workplace. And as we get up to go home, all I can think about is how glad I am that I don’t have to work with that guy.
Later, just as we get home I shout, “wow, look at that!” It was this year’s “super moon” beginning to rise over the lake. We go out onto the balcony and start photographing it. It’s a giant luminescent ball of gorgeousness drifting there in the sky, causing ribbons of light to fall across the water. I recall overhearing a gal talking about last year’s super moon and saying “I was so disappointed.” I wondered, was she expecting it to sing and dance too? Looking at it this year I can’t imagine how anyone could find it disappointing.
As we’re watching the moon float higher and higher, lighting the cruise boats sailing beneath it, we notice two young guys in the parking garage next to my building taking pictures in the opposite direction with a fancy camera with a long lens. We’re not sure what they’re shooting, but we can’t believe it could be more interesting than that moon creating such drama over that lake.
They see Ceri and I and our cameras on the balcony gazing southward, and look as if they’re wondering aloud what we’re taking pictures of. Ceri points in the direction of the moon, but they just stand there. Eventually they walk over near the south facing wall and look in the general direction where Ceri was pointing, but the wall would have blocked their view of the moon.
A few minutes later we see them walk out into the street, right under that magnificent orb, oblivious to its show.
It never disappoints me. For that reason, it's beautiful thing number ninety.
This morning it’s deeply overcast; one of those rainy mornings when you wish it was Saturday but it’s really Thursday and so you drag yourself out of bed, late, and don’t care about what the clock says because everybody is late on a rainy day.
The atmosphere has an indigo-charcoal cast and soft, smoky clouds are obscuring the tops of the buildings. It’s warmer than usual and it’s raining lightly but it seems like the rain is coming down hard because of the thrusting winds.
I walk outside and one of those winds sweeps up smacks me wet in the face and so I look at the streetcars approaching the stops outside my building. One going east to Union Station would be a relatively fast ride, and then I could navigate my way through the station and walk the underground malls all the way to my office. I’m gauging the favourableness of that as opposed to the 25 minute blustery rainy walk when I get a look at the steamy windows of the streetcars and I think about the vacant, rude, blackberry punching humanity crammed inside, and that times a hundred teeming through Union Station, and I open up my polka dotted umbrella and tilt it into the wind and walk up into Spadina Avenue for my journey north-east to work.
Right away I smell the rain on the city and I’m glad I’ve chosen the walk, even though gusts blow up one side of me and down the other and I’m hanging on to my umbrella wrestling it back to its job. I get up to Front Street and other people are wrestling their umbrellas too and some are crouched up tight in their hoods and scarves. On King Street the streetcars are glistening behind the swishing windshield wipers and the streets are shining under the rain and the clouds seemed to have sunk down to encompass the coffee shops too.
I get close to Bay Street amidst all the suits and black umbrellas and while I’m waiting for a light I imagine all of those bankerly types suddenly swooping up into the air like the would-be nannies in Mary Poppins, high heels flying off and scarves fluttering; and I imagine them flipping and whirling, getting smaller as they move off past the cloud draped buildings and over the lake toward Niagara Falls.
I get to my office with mashed up hair and a runny nose and I prop my dripping umbrella next to my desk and get myself a cup of jasmine flavoured tea and know that my wet ankles will dry before long.
I’m flying. I’m landing. Skittering along; halting to find I’m the wrong way around.
I’m floating. Above life looking down. I’m on the edge, a precipice with one foot hanging over, saying it’s going to go. Inviting, welcoming the rest of me to come along. Fall or fly? Still, I saw at the chains that hold me there.
I’m waiting. Waiting and moving. Moving around on the set of another play. Other characters are giving me cues but these are not my lines and I fumble them and the audience is not amused.
I’m watching. The clock. An extra hour we’ve been given this week but in the middle of the night as I’m rehearsing the lines it’s a long, heavy hour mocking me there.
I’m heavy. Heavy, floating, slow across the stage. Waiting for sleep but that damn clock mocks.
There has been a soft rain falling off and on since last night, and as I walk to work under the heavily overcast skies this morning everything is glistening luminous under the dim light; the pavement a wet black canvas painted here and there with splashes of colour reflecting the city pulsing above it.
Earlier, I lay in bed watching the sky through a gap in the curtain, thinking I was as reluctant to come to wakefulness as that sky was. Last night’s rain capped a gorgeous, warm and sunshiny Sunday – that kind of weekend day you look upon as a gift at any time of year, but particularly this one. The day was gentle; I walked and shopped and puttered around my home, and later my table housed a big pot of vegetable barley soup and toasted rosemary bread and warm company and suddenly I find myself in deep autumn with not a little pleasure.
The slowed pace amidst the low clouds and glistening streets extends that autumnal comfort even on a Monday morning. Once upon a time when I was a driver on the highway trying to get to work in mornings like this, I would curse at the way even a soft rain like this would slow everything down. Now I feel lucky to be able to find pleasure in the slowed pace of a city under a rain. It wasn’t all contentment – I wanted to walk right past my office and spend the morning in it.
I’m not sure I’ll move so peacefully into winter, but who knows? Maybe I just need to learn to carry with me in my mind the gentleness of a rainy morning.
The other evening I’m walking home. It’s not late but it’s after dark. I look unremarkable in Monday office wear – the kind of clothes you drag yourself into in that seven o’clock Monday morning sigh. I haven’t washed my hair, it looks unremarkable too. I’m wearing a casual fleece jacket over top of the Monday office clothes and a favourite scarf in reds and greens. If anything, the colours of the red jacket and scarf are the only things not unremarkable about my aspect on an autumn Monday evening in which I just want to get home.
I’m walking fast. At that time of the evening, the office tower crowds have left the sidewalks and got onto their trains and I’m free to hoof it as fast as a like. I cut down from King Street and through a parking lot and round south onto Blue Jays Way and as I get around the corner a young guy materializes on my left jolting me to awareness with a sudden “WOW.”
“Wow!” he exclaims again, beholding me with his arms held out at his sides.
I’m not particularly surprised, there are animated people everywhere in the city, and I give him the, albeit amused, attention he’s looking for without breaking my stride. He beholds my unremarkable aspect, held to his spot by some perceived marvellousness.
“You look GREAT!” he says, maintaining a respectful distance and I don’t feel threatened by him. I smirk, to let him know I’m on to his play for a handout or a trick even. He backs off a little, acting bowled over by the aspect of me:
“The way you rounded that corner, that was gorgeous!”
I don’t break my stride but I give him a little laugh, appreciating his original delivery but I’m not falling for it and I’m not going to give him any money.
As I walk south toward home, I carry with me the enjoyment of his in-the-moment earnestness, and what seemed to me an artistic perspective of an otherwise unremarkable woman rounding a corner in a red jacket and pretty scarf.
And I wonder if, really, he maybe did see something in that woman that betrayed recent events he couldn’t have known about; those kind that, despite her unremarkable approach to Monday‘s workday in a city office, had her feeling just as beautiful as the person he created in his clever appeal.
Wherever it came from, the fella's creative perspective is beautiful thing number seventy.
I’m in a good space. Recently someone was going on about my choice of home and work locations citing with disgust the dirt and grime and pace of the city core. “Yeah but,” I interjected, “I’m really happy.”
I thought of that as I walked to work this morning with the delicious September air on my skin. It was warmer today after a few overcast, chilly, damp days. Everybody seemed grateful. Or maybe it was just Friday Mode: you sense a relaxation in the bodies collecting at the street corners – hands gripping bags a little less tight; shoulders a little looser; conversations with friends a little lighter. A pretty, smiling girl in a floating dress sails by on her retro-styled bike riding standing up, her hair tossed back. TIFF is everywhere, adding to a mood: white tents and sections of red carpet and temporary stages and other photo op units dot the downtown core. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought of striking a campy, movie star-ish pose in one of them.
The oft-mentioned getting off the subway for two hours a day and onto the sidewalk for one, is doubtless a major factor in my current feeling of strength and contentment. And that one hour walking is just the commute. Having given up my transit pass, I’m walking over all those distances I wouldn’t have thought anything of covering on a streetcar months ago. Sometimes I curse that once-handy card, but really only when I’m overloaded with groceries, collected after work when I’m hungry and my lack of judgement in gauging things like how much that giant Ontario cantaloupe will impact the weight of the bags holding the other fifteen things I’ve got to get home with me.
Work itself is coming together. Changing jobs is never an easy adjustment. For the first few months I felt like I was floating in the wind, unknown amongst my far-flung colleagues, but my [new] manager has been putting effort in getting my name out there and I’m finally meeting people and getting to know those that work around me. After months, I’m finally feeling like I belong.
This summer I joined a gym. Yep, me. The new job gave me access to a great corporate rate and the new location gives me access to a small women’s gym where I go at lunch to engage weights and strength training, but mostly indulge in all things related to yoga. I’ve practiced yoga off and on for many years, mostly at home. There are some fine instructors at my gym and I’m working harder, posing more courageously, challenging myself in ways any recorded instruction could not generate. If you practice yoga, you’ll know what I mean when I say my body is breathing, my hips are singing and my spine is floating.
My girls and I are gearing up for a road trip tomorrow, back home for a wine festival on the rolling grounds of Fort Malden at the edge of the Detroit River in Amherstburg. I may need to detox by Monday when I come home. But right now, being in a good personal space is the right frame of reference in which to take myself back home to my always loving people for a couple of days.
I can say confidently in advance, after a couple of days in the country and the space and timing of a pretty town on a river amidst old friends, my good space will be shining like a diamond when we return on Monday.
It’s hot. I’m not complaining; even when it’s upwards of 35°C, I can still remember February.
It’s hot still when I go out for my walk at 10 pm. The minute I step outside the air hugs in close like that blanket I’m dreaming about when I walk outside in February. I get across the street to the lake and it’s not much better. Everything and everyone has slowed down, even the water swells lazily against the piers, and ducks lollygag around, probably wondering why the stupid humans don’t just get in the water. I know I’m tempted.
Even the moon looks hot, so deep in colour it looks like it’s encased in amber, hanging sluggish in the sky behind thin, black cloud ribbons. Lovers loll about on grass pushing hair off shoulders, kissing lazily. Dogs amble along behind their humans. A solitary skater doesn’t work too hard as he arcs on one edge of wheel, then the other.
As I approach York Quay, I feel the smallest drop in temperature; there must be a breeze coming in from the east. There’s a little more action down here as if the people feel it too. Restaurant patios are full, more groups of people are hanging about on the pier taking pictures of one another. While I stop at the end to look at that orange moon still reluctant to climb higher, a guy behind me is hitting the wooden pier with two sticks in a repetitive beat. I might normally enjoy that, but he’s not very good at it; the beat doesn’t roll out of him naturally, instead it seems forced, with missed hits and awkward pauses. I find it annoying and intrusive against the hot night and so I move on towards home.
Back on the quieter end, boats sway against their docks. Most are dark, residents shut inside against the heat. Except one fella, stretched out flat in a chaise lounge on his deck. I’m envious; I wish I could sleep on a boat deck tonight.
I get home and I’m soaked through like a wet rag. Not willing to go anywhere near my lovely clean sheets like this, I take a cool shower and sit down to write while my hair dries.
…to this story.
As I walk out of my office for a walk at lunchtime yesterday, I very nearly crash into the very man walking by the front of my office building. He looks out of place on Bay Street at lunchtime amidst the suits and and cell phones and smart pumps. I have to stop myself from staring. The strangers in danger of bumping into me suddenly rooted there wouldn't know or care why I'm compelled to watch that man cross the street.
I turn back to find him and he's gone. I think to myself that I do so love a coincidence. This one: beautiful thing number 48.
Now and then something binds you to a stranger. Sometimes it’s one-sided, sometimes reciprocal. Often that thing drawing you in is indefinable; you may never know what it is that connects you. It’s a nice little mystery inherent in our existence, in my mind.
Last weekend I’m having a late lunch on a sunny pub patio. Into my line of sight walk two men. One looks to be in his thirties, dressed unremarkably in shorts and a shirt. The other man is substantially older – in his eighties, maybe even nineties. He is tall and lean and limber. They choose Adirondack chairs in the shade of an umbrella and the old man folds his lanky frame into one of them. In my mind I determine they are grandfather and grandson who had just seen a show in the theatre I saw emptying across the street a few moments earlier.
I’m instantly charmed by the grandfather. He’s got a wide, mildly kooky and sparkling smile that turns his small, round eyes to crescents highlighted by gorgeous laugh lines. At the risk of objectifying or making the man a characature, I think his face has the look I was trying to achieve in some puppets I made a few years ago.
They want to order beer, and his soft voice doesn’t carry over the satellite radio music. He says he wants anything but a Heineken. The server doesn’t have the gumption to just offer a Keith’s or other popular beer, and presses the grandson into making the choice. He looks a little uncomfortable; I’m sure it’s because she doesn’t talk to the grandfather directly, only through the grandson. I know I’m annoyed by it.
I try to busy myself by looking at some photos on my phone, but I am taken with the old man. He’s dressed cleverly – in jeans, running shoes and a white t-shirt with something on the front of it which I can’t see. He’s wearing a black blazer over the t-shirt and a small toque-like hat folded up around the edges. I sense he’s an artist of some kind, and I’m imagining his life as I look at him over my phone. He catches my eye a number of times. We are in each other’s line of sight, and it’s certainly not unusual that people catch their neighbour’s eyes in restaurants, but it occurs to me that he might think I’m taking stealth shots of him with my phone’s camera. It’s an irrational fear I suppose, maybe related to the guilt felt by the observer caught observing.
He’s engaged his grandson in conversation, and the younger man looks like he’s having a good time. He finishes his pint of Guinness before his grandfather gets much down of his half pint, and the elder insists on sharing what’s left.
They get up to leave and the old man acknowledges me openly, saying “bye” and waving. I’m glad to know that he has taken my attention for what it was: a woman charmed by an interesting looking man with a great smile. I finish my lunch, feeling somewhat bereft.