Landscape on skin, by Huang Yan, from the East Link Gallery, Shanghai.
Robson street, Vancouver’s brand-name straight-line shopping district. Peace as body lotion instead of solution, sold for fifty bucks a bottle behind white walls and vast plate windows, images torn from magazines that cost more than a meal. Thick with logo stamped angels, tight strappy sandals and tight strappy jeans, wide retail smiles and cocaine-bright children surgically attached to thin cell phones and even smaller hand-bag dogs, this is not my neighbourhood. Barefoot, I can feel the concrete but don’t feel connected. “Can’t buy me love, everybody tells me so.” Looking for nothing in particular, I stop for breakfast.
My dyed hair is a flag, marking my place in line. I look for my reflection in the black marble facade in front of me and find nothing but the eyes of red haired chef making crepes. On reflex I wink at him, but my thoughts are elsewhere, threading from the apparent cure for cancer just found in Alberta to the neuro-chemical reactions that trigger love; dopamine, serotonin, vasopressin. Triggered by the sad knowledge that I’ve likely burned out all the neurotransmitters that are part of the brain’s built-in reward system, I order my memorized taste of a perfect oxytocin kiss – strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar.
It works. Instant flash of a cold stone floor, the second hand taste of wine, cigarettes, a forged key to my weakness, waking with tousled black hair and my favourite voices. Music sent back and forth to finally meet in an airport, meet in a stairway, on the street, the lights strung up above the bed from before Persepolis abandoned me back. Why do they always have dark hair? I never noticed until just now. Curls. Temples going to silver, little places for me to kiss.
By the time I reach the bus-stop, I’m already talking to strangers and figuring out who to contact to prepare my house as efficiently as possible. My roommate, Sasha and I are on the same page. Out as soon as we can without leaving the other in the lurch. He’s going to be moving in with Mel, I’m still uncertain where I’ll end up. I need a staging ground for our last shot at the theatre before I finally give up, fold house, and leave town. Mihi cura futuri.