Out of Time

Today a man unwound his long arm from somewhere behind his body and stretched his hand towards me, saying, “I have to warn you, I’m a transgendered person and my name is Eve”.
In his hand was an apple.
Yesterday a man standing beside me gently tugged my hair, calling me “cute”, “beautiful”, teasing and playing with his words, saying, “if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine”.
I shook his hand and bid him adieu.
A few weeks ago I met a man. He came announced, in a way – the friend of a friend and an elaborate story about how she hadn’t heard from him for 20 years, but he’d heard somehow through the grapevine about how she was going through a very very tough time.
He’d made the trip on horseback from his farm to the local town where there was a phone he could use to make the international call to her, the call to say, “I heard… and I am so very sorry”.
The way she tells the story, they were chatting away after so many years, catching up on many fronts, and there was a strange shuffling whinny sound that startled the conversation, making her ask, “What’s that?”, and he answered, “Oh, that’s the horse!”, as if he was of course still mounted on a horse there by some outdoor phone in a tiny little town in the mountains.
She’d told me the story, and we’d chuckled away together at the absurdity of such a thing in 2015.

Some weeks later at an opening at her gallery in Montreal where I am attending with a few pieces in the show – a fun, relaxed affair, with enough friends and new encounters to make it all feel just right, and at the end of the afternoon, milling around, why there is Harry – brilliant, hilarious Harry who I’ve adored since I was a wee little 20-year-old bohemian lost anglo soul in Montreal, and he’d always be an essential figure in the mix for all kinds of events and openings and dinners and all of that back in the day.

At some point he’d started dating my friend who has the gallery and this was in fact how I met her. I knew him, he met and fell in love with her, they became an item, and we began to go out to things the 3 of us, and well… I was smitten with her – a tiny, exquisitely beautiful Latina, ferocious, talented, sexy as all hell, brilliant.
In Harry’s car, coming back from a Buffy Sainte-Marie concert where the Neville Brothers had also featured, she sat backwards in the front seat, facing me – her perfect Inca-princess face raving about the amazing beauty and resilience of Buffy’s spirit. Harry drove and laughed and agreed and we all rode the wave of the moon, the music, whatever drugs we were on at the time. I was in love with her, hands down.

Oh so many decades later, and children and jobs and relationships and different cities and we all see each other less and less, except now, this moment, a tragedy has brought us all together, older, broken-hearted, perhaps more forgiving than we ever were.
We end up going out afterwards – Harry and my friend and me and the guy who rides a horse to get to a phone who has come into town on an overnight bus in a gesture of support.
Nobody has any money. We eat the bare minimum and go back to my friend’s place to drink plonk.

In the deep dark of a Montreal balcony at night things start to get intense in ways I miss, ways I long for – arguments about art and politics and love and aesthetics and priorities in life.
There’s a point where it becomes clear that my friend and Harry – ex-lovers who haven’t seen each other for many many years – are hashing out old stuff they need to work out between them alone. I head inside from the balcony – inside to a couch where it looks like I’m going to spend the night.
Guy Who Rides Horses Through Mountains comes in as well and says he’d like to show me something – photos of his life on his farm in the mountains, and the horses and dogs and whatnot.
Genius, I think, as in fact, I’m curious about this fellow who supposedly lives so far off the grid even access to a phone call takes 4 hours by horse. Yes please, let’s see what this looks like.

He has a little point and shoot camera. He apologizes that the photos may cover many years and many situations. But there are many magical moments in his photos – a series of strange fauna atop the mountains; the trusting happy bellies of his dogs, giving it up for a stroke of the belly; the work of local artists, painters and the like; the horses and also donkeys, whose step is apparently more sure through the narrow mountain paths; a strangely compelling series of metal fence grids that make me remember a dream that slips away before I can grasp it fully…
It is an awkwardly intimate moment there on the couch – two strangers sharing a moment… And we each pull away, diving into sleep.
In the morning I’m up early, packing my bags, heading north with other friends.
I give Guy Who Rides Horses my business card, as he and I will both be in Toronto by next weekend, so we could conceivably meet again there – a beer in Kensington Market, a drop-in to the show I’m doing on the weekend.
But I know already, even as I suggest it, that none of it will ever happen…

Force of nature in the ‘hood

orange moon over bungalowsThe other night was a full moon.
I hopped on my bike, heading east on side streets I haven’t explored yet, past, along and through streets I’ve only heard about in the news – gangs, a shooting, a funeral.
I ended up looking over some kind of park at the back of a community centre. A neighbourhood of tall apartment buildings and bungalows. Tons of kids still out playing, even in the dark. Funny thing, how the most notorious neighbourhoods of the city are also raising the most children.pharmacy aptsSitting on a bench, listening to the kids and watching the moon, I thought of Em in France, wondered if she was looking at this very moon over there, walking her dog in the evening.
I love this about the moon, it makes me feel how small we are on a spinning planet, all looking out at the same moon.moon over pharmacyEm tells me she was indeed out seeing that very same full moon, and sends a picture of a glorious, blooming rose.
Here the roses are maybe a month away and everyone is still licking their wounds from the long brutal winter – it’s fierce frigid temperatures and endless quantities of snow, as if somehow it’s responsible for the state of the economy, tension in marriages, the deteriorating health of aging parents, aside from the devastation to any number of tender plants in gardens.
The sudden spring is still a shock of disbelief.pink blossomsclouds over smokestackwispy cloudsEach morning I’m on the patio doing sunrise ceremony, grateful for the new day and hot coffee, delighting in the variations in the clouds, watching them move from wispy vertebrae to fingers of god, hinting at summer storms to come.finger of god over smokestackfinger of god, double smokestackEven here in the crummy, notorious neighbourhoods, the skies reveal their splendour every day, and up amongst the clouds, geese and ducks pass, looking for places to settle in for the season, seagulls hurry by in singles – this one heading south, that one heading north, another crossing by east to west. Like business men they seem, rushing about with self-important determination.seagull in cloudsFrom France Em reminds me: Each fleeting moment is real and true.
tiny seagull in big finger of god skyAnd it occurs to me that even weeds have their own kind of beauty.dandelion gloryWeekly Photo Challenge – Forces of Nature