One, two, three glasses of red wine as I sat alone and listened to the jazz band. It was a warm, October afternoon. Four glasses of red wine. Well, you know what’s next. A cigarette. But I don’t smoke in public. My cigarettes and my shame sit safely hidden in my freezer at home. I smoke one cigarette every morning on the balcony of my tiny, beloved rented flat with a double espresso. Then I have one more when I return from work in the evenings, and sometimes another later on, too. Some passers-by had stopped along the sidewalk to listen to the magic. I asked a gentleman who was smoking there if I could buy one. He shook his head no as he extended his pack of duMauriers. No charge; thank you. He gave me a light without a word, finished his own cigarette, then went inside. This was Poetry, a lounge in Kensington Market, quite perfectly named, as it was what the mystic moment felt like with the light buzz of alcohol and the sun shining and the spellbinding music and the grassroots, transcendental charm unique only to this part of Toronto.
A fifth glass of wine. My friend, Josh, was running late. I didn’t mind at all.
The gentleman who had given me the cigarette. I’d forgotten all about him. But as he passed me when exiting the lounge, he handed me a small square of folded note. Surprised and intrigued, I unfolded it. It read:
« You are
and single. »
It was signed with his name, David, and his number. I looked down the crowded street in the direction he’d walked but could not spot him. I had hardly registered what he had looked like. Blond hair? Who was this charming poet who seized the moment despite his admitted timidness, and thinks that I, of all people, am beautiful?
In fact, he has light, wispy, sandy-brown hair. And a sideward-facing ball cap. He has cutely crooked teeth and his face is boyish and adorable. He is five ten, quite slim. He is thirty-one, I am forty-two. My immediate, primal thought: could I ever fuck this young babe? I could just make sight of a very thick down on his chest. This excited me. I decided I probably could. And what is he making of me?
Our dinner at Fresh on Eglinton was pleasant, conversation was lovely, he plays music and has a degree in philosophy. There is a depth and substance to this young man with an old soul that made it possible to think of more than his physical fuckability. He insisted on paying; a gentleman. We walked in the rain to the subway. It was a polite, slightly awkward goodbye. Though we certainly managed, I believe I am just as shy as he is.
This morning I am forced to sit on a sideways-facing seat rather than a forward-facing seat on the subway. I wonder if hurtling my brain through the space and altitude of the subway tunnels at this different angle will have any effect at all on the mishmash that transpires there. Sitting this sideway direction is rare. People always want the two-seater facing the direction of travel and by golly they would prefer to keep both seats to themselves, the other seat for their belongings. I am one of these they. This is only possible during the pre-work rush hour if you are going out of the downtown core and not into it, where seats are usually plentiful. This is my particular situation, though not today. I am on my way to work and wondering about David, about Tinder, about ageing, about humans as commodities in today’s online social context, but mostly about David, I must conclude. The story of our chance and lyrical meeting, the interesting dynamic of our age difference, his poetry, which I guessed correctly he indeed writes, and our dinner last night. Did he write of me in his journal, I wonder?
I should be marking papers but instead I am staring out the bus window, allowing my night brain shenanigans to sort and settle and follow the whimsical paths of my morning thoughts. I had a very strange dream last night that I can’t remember ever having had before. It was this:
I was on a long-distance bike ride; the one I have loosely planned from Toronto to Vancouver. I ran into some people quite early in the ride. I had forgotten all my panniers, I realized. Shit. As I was sitting there talking to the lovely people, I pooped my pants.
I was shocked in my dream but was thankful to feel that it was solid poop. Incredibly, I was able to excuse myself and find a public washroom. Unbelievably, it happened to have a standup shower inside. I was able to clean up the whole mess without anybody noticing.
I looked up what the dream could possibly mean, online, purely out of curiosity. I was shocked to find, on the very first site that I clicked, an interpretation that included the specific scenario about pooping but being able to get to a public washroom and get cleaned up without anyone being the wiser. Apparently this means that positive changes are afoot.
My personal school of thought is that most often dreams are nothing more than just a leftover medley of the day’s minutia; a sub-conscious unrolling into a non-sensical, often entertaining, drama, when we remember it. But sometimes, and since I did not poo my pants yesterday or anytime recently, yes, I think they can be symbolic and signify something meaningful. Is this one of those instances?
I walked around in absent-minded circles, turning left, left, left as I unconsciously unwound the spiral of energy within me created by running up the stairs of my high rise apartment building each morning, turning right, right, right, up and up. The air is pleasantly crisp as finally temperatures have dropped to where they should be for late October. It had been unseasonably warm until now. It is ten thirty on Sunday morning and David is late. Very late.
Your lateness is my precious open window, David, as I breathe in the fresh air and take photos of naked mannequins in windows and graffiti and The CN Tower. I dare say your lateness is my pleasure, David, so long as you turn up shortly. Forty-five minutes of circling, watching, checking street, checking phone, but he never appears nor messages. My heart is curious but not troubled about my young philosopher friend. What has happened to you, David?
Even more rare, today I am sitting facing the opposite direction of travel on the subway. It’s my least favourite position, I outright don’t like it. Could this have any effect on my thought process whatsoever? Even just psychologically? But perhaps even physiologically? What a thing to wonder.
A young man named Saturn begins chatting with me. He’s been up all night, and he is looking forward to getting home to effectuate some of his ideas. I recognize his demeanour; he’s been partying. He is unemployed but still does good and gets paid in other ways, in love, often overlooked, he explains. Hear, hear. Saturn is forty, I’d have never guessed. He is trying to do the right thing in life but he keeps getting pulled in other directions. Setbacks, always setbacks. Life will always be like that, don’t beat yourself up, I told him. No Utopia, he replied, just some utopian moments. Raves, ketamine, depression, MDMA, music, dancing, what we do to the water, the Earth, industrial agriculture. We spoke of it all between Eglinton and Shepard stations.
I shook his hand before he left. It was grimy. I left the grit on my hand a moment, my heart swelled, and I wished goodness and clarity for Saturn. I envisioned his filth, infused with the love emanating from my pores, lifting up into the air, floating, dissipating, dissolving into providence and lucidity. Will I ever cross paths with Saturn again?
Last night at five thirty, seven and a half hours after we were supposed to meet, I finally heard from David. Apologetic and forthright, he told me how he’d stressed all night about our meeting, how he’d thus slept in, how he awoke in a panic. He has an anxiety disorder and he simply didn’t know what to say to me. I told him:
« No problem. I wish you’d shared that with me. I totally understand and sometimes have anxiety attacks myself. I had a nice day, so don’t worry. I went to the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at The AGO. I don’t bite, if you want to try hanging out again another time, I’m into it.
So David will come to my house on Thursday evening for dinner. Hopefully. The dynamic keeps changing. What is David’s role in my life? Perhaps it is my role in his that is most important?
Once someone called me impulsive and I really reacted, was offended, found it insulting. It’s not insulting, and nothing could be more true when describing me. It brings many adventures! Adventures thwarted and left unborn, dead, by those who think too much. This morning I suddenly bought tickets to a concert tonight, Thursday night. So I invited David to join instead of doing dinner but he was hesitant, and I fed his hesitance with promotions of rescheduling which my heart wasn’t in. Moments pass, tides turn, seasons change. I wonder…will I ever read the poem he told me he wrote me?