Architecture to stretch out in without scraping my fingers on roughly green glass walls. There are no mountains to hem people in here, no ocean to swallow their gaze completely to the exclusion of culture. I blend in. In Vancouver, I stand out in the street as something odd to look at. It’s like a weight lifted, all those people looking elsewhere. I don’t feel like a bare gallery of this hat, these clothes. Instead, beautiful pieces of public graffiti sprayed onto the brick skin of buildings a century old reach out to me and remove weight from my shoulders.
My trip to Toronto is confirmed: I leave on Monday, Dec 19, at 6.15 on train #69.
I return to Montreal on Friday Dec 23.
I’m living with James at Sherbrooke and St. Laurant. It reminds me of the first time I lived in Toronto, when my apartment was at Queen and Spadina. There’s a similar sense of being exactly in the right place downtown to properly chase dragons. It’s like Sigur Ros is playing underneath every creaking step I take on snow, lending me magic and grandeur. Tkch, tkch, tkch. Everything is dusted white. I don’t pad around here. It’s impossible. My feet are encased in big clunky shoes. My feet are clumsy. My feet are walking somewhere they’ve never been. Every curb is a cliff leading down to some improbable country where I’m glad I don’t know the language.
Yesterday, like the day before, I walked for hours. I haven’t done anything yet, but I’ve seen.
We walked four hours, returned, and subjected ourselves and Michel to Guitar Wolf. My head is splitting, the result of a nasty accident between it and the fridge door. An explosively loud japanese rock god movie might not have been the most wise decision. Over my shoulder, James is in his bedroom reading a book I cannot see. Tomorrow he goes to work early and I am left alone in the city.
I will spend time discovering the schedules required between here and Toronto. (I promise, these words are a rudder for you as much as me.) The train takes five hours. Ryan North tells us that the Secret Swing is gone, torn from the chains, but I still want to go. I suspect I will leave early Tuesday morning. Jessie will be meeting me there, she flies to Halifax Wednesday evening, and I have a holiday present for Katie that still needs to be wrapped. (Darren has yet to get back to me.)
My eyes feel as if they have cracked.
From where I sit, I can look up to three black birds I brought back from L.A. They rest on a garland of sage that I’ve carried with me since I first started having sex with boys. It was an afternoon of singing for strangers in a strange land. Six years ago I was beginning to claim this city for my own. The birds look alert, like they could spread their fake wings and fly through the wall to some place I’ve never been. Pop out the other side of the white stucco and into a night sky with unfamiliar constellations. I can’t imagine them having any natural sound. I can imagine the computer hiss of an old modem maybe or the blurry tone of a rotary phone. Blackbird call home, blackbird eat the clouds, blackbirds that carry an analog name that I don’t know.
I’ve got days hanging from a dreaming tree, branches tearing upward and leaving contrails behind. The sound of shoes in an airport, the hallway, the picture I took there, the way the pictures were the same coming back. I fly and I follow by accident, by motorway, by the wrong direction.
This is a simple transition in my mind, Los Angeles to Vancouver to Toronto. There’s no disorder, only misplaced moments melding themselves into the best home movie. Hands in every shot, the evolution of devotion lagging behind the reality as my eyes sweep past out plane windows and I try to find my way home. There’s a dead child out there, hanging from a damned red moon, but I don’t see it, I’m blind from the panel glare, the colours that are printed in three little dots at a time. Something broken seems to flutter from my hair and the world changes, the person in the seat next to me has seen me cry.