Waiting for the Light to Change

A man emerged from out of the verdant shrubbery of Kitsilano’s carefully landscaped heritage homes, as I was driving up MacDonald, to get to UBC. He looked to be in his mid-thirties, and seemed to be homeless: dark, dusty clothes, patched in places; a worn, black pack slung over one shoulder;  and a guitar in a black sleeve, over the other. His left hand was holding the strap of the guitar case, adding a bit of extra weight to keep the guitar from slipping off of his shoulder. He wore a crumpled black fedora on his head, his long crinkled black hair tied back in a pony tail. It was sunny day, twenty degrees in the sun, and a pleasant spring breeze. Rather warm for all those layers.

A black figure, emerging from the bushes; a walking stereotype for the evening news after an assault occurs in the neighbourhood.

There was one oddity to him: in his right hand, he carried a bouquet of brightly coloured flowers.  He must have just picked them from some garden (or several) along his meanderings; the blossoms were still upright and lively.

He held the stems tightly, like a small child with a nosegay of dandelions, picked from along the dusty back alley, for their mother.

Ahead of me, at the corner of MacDonald and West 4th, standing by a chain link fence that surrounded a construction site (another aesthetic gentrification along that corridor), stood a young woman. She looked like one of the local university students. She stood beside a footstool-sized metal box, some plastic bags at her feet. She was waiting for something, looking into the intersection, yet the bus stop was around the fence from her, and there was nowhere for a car to stop to pick her up.

I watched out of the corner of my eye, as the man in tattered black slowed down his pace as he neared the girl. His right arm seemed to start to extend, the blossoms of his bouquet trembling ever so slightly at the movement. The girl turned to face him.

The light turned green. I did an extra long shoulder check to my right, for pedestrians, and to see if the gesture was completed.

The fence was the only thing in my sight, and the questioning numbness of a moment lost, the only sensation.

Vancouver Fog 2013



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