skinscript: (helosharon)
For reasons unknown, I have recently been thinking about a day far past, when I was about 14(?) years old.

I used to take the train home from Toronto every single weekend, and I would spend Saturday and Sunday in my hometown, staying with my sister and her husband. Perhaps its all the time with her in England that's brought this to mind. I know that just writing this is turning into a veritable festival of unexpected memories for me. Someday I will write about how I once had an entire traincar of people singing with me, or how I had to break into their apartment once cause they forgot I was coming.

Anyhow - on to this particular memory.

One Friday in the spring or summer, I was at Union Station in Toronto playing some video games at the small arcade on the underground level. I had my ticket and I was just waiting for several hours for the train. I was cruising along pretty well with Galaga when a fellow came up and asked me if he could play partners on my next quarter.

He was tall, just under six feet, and he had black hair and dark brown eyes. Faintly swarthy skin, a smidge of stubble, and a wonderful full mouth in a slim face. Arched eyebrows. He was *damned* hot. And he had an accent. He gave me a smile, and I was absolutely captivated.

We played games for a while, and then we decided to walk around the city til my it was time to catch my train. We walked around for ages, stopped long enough for some submarine sandwiches, walked some more. We just talked about whatever came to mind. He was 21, from Quebec, and it was his first month in Toronto. I was 14, from Northern Ontario, my first year in Toronto. Both of us were generally unhappy with the city, but happy to have found companionship for a few hours.

When it was time to catch my train, he walked me to the platform, said thank you for my time, and gave me the sweetest kiss I think to this day I've ever gotten. It was gentle, and chaste, and light. It was strangely... innocent. Impulsively I told him when my train would be back in, and he smiled and said he'd try to make it.

The entire train ride home two days later I was in an agony of indecision. What if I saw him again? What if I didn't? Should I look? Shouldn't I? argh!!!

You know - I can't remember if I looked or not. I've played it in my head both ways... and I *think* I originally walked past the arcade, and then the next few train rides would haunt the place hoping to see him again. But I don't remember. It's a shame.

So - why tell you all this story?

This memory came to me out of nowhere. A perfect afternoon with a perfect gentleman, who just wanted some company to make him feel less lonely. I think of this afternoon through two filters simultaneously - the view of the girl I was, and the view of the much older and much more cautious woman I am. The girl I was - she wasn't naive. She'd been abused by men, knew the dangers of strangers, was pretty streetwise. But she trusted this fellow, immediately. Not without twinges of unease, but nevertheless with a kind of faith that the me I am today simply doesn't possess any longer.

The woman I am is... kind of horrified at the idea of a 14 year old girl meeting a total stranger, a 21 year old man, and spending the day alone with him. Walking around the city, where anything could have happened. And the woman I am today wonders about that man. Why would he have been interested in her 14 year old self? What was he thinking? What hidden motives might he have had? What *could* have happened?

I'm torn - really torn - by these conflicting feelings. That day was something I treasured for a long time. It bothers me that I can't help but taint it now. It bothers me that I am suspicious of a young man who most likely just WAS lonely and needed a friend. It bothers me that I distrust the judgement of my younger self, and that I am likely selling myself short in how interesting I might have been to a lonely young man who came from a small town and who had only been in the city a short time.

I feel like along the way I have lost something precious - some capacity to trust that I discarded in becoming who I am. I feel like this is true not just of me but of my world, where anyone I know would agree with my current self on the dangers of that situation.

I mourn that loss. I mourn that girl, with her faith.

And mostly, I mourn that it was necessary.
skinscript: (deaniron)
Today was a bumper sticker kind of day.

I don't mean that it was a redneck, hick town kind of day - though gods know that since I myself am the product of a redneck hick town, and even more the product of the *wrong* side of town I would probably recognize one.

I mean, literally, bumper stickers. For some reason, today they were everywhere.

When I was a kid in school, I used to buy or steal bumper stickers to put on my binders. Later, I put them on the case for my pool cue. Today, if it weren't for the fact that my laptop is owned by my employer, I am sure I'd have it plastered with them. Stuff like "I'm the person your momma warned you about", and "Practice Gun Control - It Improves Your Aim", "Knives Don't Kill People, I Do" and "If you can read this you are TOO FUCKING CLOSE." Awesome stuff.

Anyhow, today I was seeing many cars with bumper stickers. Many of them were "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbons, several were simply location stickers (I heart Tuktayuktuk!). There were two that caught my eye though.

The first one was "Fuck Off Already. I Have Enough Friends." Man - I totally cracked up at that one. Luckily I was in a parking lot and parked at the time, or I could have had some issues. As it was I snorted warm tea out my nose. Yuck. And, Ow. But still, very funny.

The second one was the impetus for this post though. I was driving behind a very nice silver Toyota Corolla, a recent model. We were doing a good 120km/hr (70 mph) on the highway when I caught a good look at the white writing on the lovely dark blue background. It said :

"Cars Don't Kill People. Drivers on Cell Phones Do."

As it happens, and as I've droned on about before, I spend an awful lot of time in my car. Emphasis on 'awful', there. And for me, that bumper sticker wasn't just a little piece of plastic awesomeness. It was also entirely accurate.

But the absolute best part?

The driver of the car with this totally wise and true sticker?

Was on the phone.
skinscript: (hbox)
I've been thinking about the nature of responsibility. At least, I think that's the word I'm looking for...

The other night I was driving home from the store and I passed a bicycle in the ditch. It was dark, full night, no moon, and it was damned cold out. I was about 4 km from home, dinner was waiting for me, and I didn't see anyone with the bike.

It was lying on its side, a blue ten speed with a baby seat mounted behind the regular seat. It was on it's side in the ditch such that all I could see was the wheels in the air and the bottom of the baby seat. I went past it at about 70 km/hr, and I kept going.

But you know - that bike? It bothered me. Why was it in the ditch with the handlebars and seat down? Most people if they were just leaving the bike would have left it with the wheels down, not the top. It was a pretty deep ditch there. What if there was someone in the ditch? What if the baby seat wasn't actually empty? I'm a pretty observant driver - unusually so - what if no one else saw it?

I kept driving. Now about 2.5 km from home.

What if tomorrow I read in the paper about some poor bastard who was struck by a car and who died cause no one stopped? What if it was an abduction? I pictured myself turning around, checking it out. I passed five, maybe six different streets that could be used as such.

1.5 km from home.

I could go home and call 911 - or call the police dispatch. And why doesn't the non-emergency dispatch have its own shortcut phone number, anyway? Maybe there wouldn't be so many useless 911 non-emergency calls if there was a shortcut. Wasn't carrying my cell phone. Even IF someone was there, I wouldn't be able to actually get any help. And most likely there was no one there. It was right beside a cemetery - most likely someone had gone inside and their bike had fallen over.

Most likely.

1 km to home.

I used to work in downtown Toronto, on Front Street at Jarvis / Church. This is an upscale but shabby area of the city, with a large number of homeless and panhandlers. In front of my building, I once saw a fellow in the full heat of summer, passed out on the sidewalk. It was damned hot - like frying eggs hot, and as I stepped past him I couldn't even see if he was breathing. I went inside my building and I just couldn't let it go in my head.

I was thinking of that lady, in the states, who was raped and stabbed in front of an entire apartment building full of witnesses... none of whom called the police or intervened. Can you imagine the guilt those people must have felt? What kind of guilt would I have if I left him?

This still bothers me, because just a couple of nights ago, man... I *wanted* to go home. I was tired and I wanted my dinner and I just ... did not want to turn around.

A half-kilometre to go.

That day, downtown, I went to the kitchen in my building, and I got some bottles of cold water. I got one of the other people to go with me, and I went back to the fellow on the sidewalk. There had been hundreds of people who had gone past him while I was inside. Understand this fellow was taking up almost the entire sidewalk. People were stepping over him, not just walking around. I went up to him, crouched down, was jostled by the people passing. The other employee was shaking his head at me, and I was shaking cause as I got closer I was so scared he was dead. I shook his shoulder, and after a long minute his eyes opened. He was totally drunk, hot to the touch, and after we got him into the shade of an overhang we gave him the water. The look he gave me was absolute shock - shock not just that we'd brought him something to drink, but that we'd stopped at all.

Two houses from my driveway I turned around and went back to the bike. Pulled into the cemetary, went to look.

No one in the ditch. No signs of a struggle. Marks on the grass showed that the bike had tumbled from a perch against the fence, hence ending up upside down in the ditch. I pulled it back up, put it back against the fence, hooked it so it would stand. Then I went home.

When I was walking to the ditch, I counted.

Eighteen cars passed me.

Every single driver looked away.

God, I am glad I wasn't one of them.

Cause you know what? Dinner can wait.

The Trees

Nov. 30th, 2006 10:26 pm
skinscript: (helosharon)
My house backs onto a forest. It is a small forest, but a real one, with trees hundreds of years old, forest animals, a marsh, lovely birds. From my bedroom, standing, you can see a wonderful half-wild worlds. Right now, in winter, the trees have all shed their leaves, and their branches are stark straight lines raking the sky. Since most of the ones lining my backyard are beeches, they are straight and tall.

Last night it was quite cloudy, and the lights of the city reflected off the cloud cover, turning it silver. From my bed, staring through the window, the branches of the beeches were silhouetted, black against silver. There was a light rain, and the trees were absolutely, utterly still. Even at the very tips, they were motionless.

I closed my eyes, so tired and so despairing. When I opened them again, the trees were in motion. It was a hypnotising pendulous sway - a dance of the branches against that surreal sky to the beat of my pulse. It was starkly beautiful, as if they were beckoning me to come out and play.

When I was young, my best friends were the trees. Whenever I needed to flee the realities of my life, whenever I needed to escape the fighting or the fists or the alcohol-fuelled joy of my house, I would go to the woods behind our house and I would climb the trees. Usually the white pines, huge sentinels well over a hundred fifty feet high, I'd race through the branches until I was in the crown, and there I would wrap my arms and legs around the tree and hug it tightly to my chest, press my cheek against the rough bark, and I would just concentrate on that slow soothing sway of the wood to the wind. I would imagine I felt the life flowing through the tree, that it embraced me as fervently as I did it. Many times I fell asleep in those trees, and never once did I fall.

I had pets, but unlike my dogs and cats and rabbits and even my tarantula, the trees required nothing at all of me. No food, no water, not even my presence. In the tops of the pines I was unconditionally accepted... and never missed when I was gone. That lack of demand was incredibly freeing.

Last night, I wanted to go out to the trees. But it was cold, and it was raining, and my husband was curled against my back. Instead, I closed my eyes again, thought about falling asleep. A moment later, my eyes were open again, and I was looking back out the window... and the trees were once again still.

I never did make it to sleep last night.
skinscript: (deaniron)
We had a huge, torrential downpour the other day. The kind of rain where you are reluctant to drive, cause the fastest wipers make no difference when the rain is spattering back up to form a universal gray mist that means you can't see a damned thing anyways.

It was in this kind of rain that I made the 70 kilometer (45 mile) drive home. It was a terrible, tense drive; straining to see through the windshield, trying to make out the shapes of the other cars on the highway, wondering why the hell the fellow immediately behind me felt the need to have his car so close to my bumper that I believe he was evaluating me for a colonoscopy.

I was about 10 km from home, traffic eased, rain eased, when I saw it.

A frog.

A big frog, actually. He was even green (most frogs here are a sort of green tinged brown); a bright shiny green, and he was rocking as fast as he could across this four-lane highway. He dodged two cars before leaping underneath mine (I was in the fast lane, naturally). I stomped on the gas, hoping to get all the way over him before he jumped underneath a tire.

That frog got me thinking, much as the rainbow did. (I think a lot while I drive. Not a lot else for me to do, after all.) That frog was a *big* frog. He'd lived most, if not all of his life on one side of that highway. He'd had kids there. Everything he knew was on THAT side of the road. (It is not the kind of highway that a frog could cross often and survive.) And yet - at his ripe age, he (or she!) decided to find something new.

I wonder, what was he thinking? When he was at the edge of the highway, staring at those incredibly enormous death machines screaming past him, stuck on their paths between the painted lines. What was it that made him decide, finally, to leap?

I wonder these things because I am at a crossroads in my own life. I need to look at the different paths I have available. I need to look at what my options are; what the obstacles are. I need to decide: what do I want? And then... then I have to leap.

If you're wondering about the frog?

He made it.
skinscript: (helosharon)
Today I saw the single, most glorious rainbow I have ever witnessed. I'm old enough to have seen plenty - but this one was enormous (about fifteen kilometres wide), thick, and intense - it shone like nothing I have ever seen.

I almost drove into the back of the car in front of me because I was watching it so hard.

As I was marvelling at it and cursing that I did not have a camera, I realised that this rainbow is an analogy of ...well... many things. But the one I am thinking of at the moment, is life.

I watched the rainbow form from its smallest beginnings as I drove. It started out tentatively, teasing at the corners of the clouds. A particular downdraft yielded the first glimmer of colour... there and rapidly gone as the mist cleared. I glanced immediately to the opposite side - nothing. A few minutes later, the right half of the arc slowly shimmered into being. The left base was more aggressive - it flashed into place like a beacon being lit. I returned to watching the road long enough to ensure I wasn't about to crash (and at 100 miles / 140 km per hour, that is important!) and when I looked back up, the arch had closed above me. It intensified over the next minute, the colours becoming more and more distinct. This rainbow had multiple bands, very rare to see, where the underside is built with layers of interference.

At its brightest, the rainbow covered much of northern Toronto. Planes flew through it, and they looked like pinpricks on some fabulously coloured cloth. A second arch formed above the first, subtler and much fainter, but there.

It was so incredible I needed to share it. I called mr. Infie but no answer, so I phoned one of my workmates, also driving home, and told him to look east. He pulled over his car, looked...

and there was no rainbow for him.

It was about this time that the phenomenon (and it was phenomenal) began to fade, as I moved under the clouds and away from the correct angle. Within moments it was gone to my view.

Perspective. Breathtaking beauty. Lost opportunity. Fleeting pleasure. Lasting memories. Regrets. Gratitude.

Just like life.

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