When I lived in Toronto, I walked home every night through the ill-lit streets. Streets too-often dirty, littered, shadowed by the border of beautiful trees. I was always hoping to find a new path that would take me through the softly glowing, orange light of power-saving streetlights that keep the trees awake until dawn. Trees, left to sleep in darkness, end up hiding shady deals and shady men. I walked quickly on my way home, always very aware of my vulnerable femininity. I’ve yet to master martial arts. I’m an easy target. My fear radiated around me, infecting the men who passed me by with an awakening awareness of predator and prey.
Now I live in Vancouver. I walk across the Granville St. bridge and as I approach the downtown core I experience a strange joy. Before me are these tall towers of dark glass and light. And the geometric patterns of the lit and dark rectangles against the black night sky are beauty incomparable. The skyscrapers are all so new and shiny. And the boxes of light suspended in the darkness are like frozen glimmers of secret fairy fires: illusions, always out of reach.
Tonight, to my left, there’s a dark red room lit by a muted, golden light visible amidst the clouds and rare stars of early fall. And to my right I see a tiny dark shadow of a man walk out to his balcony to stand and behold the city at his feet. He’s so far up, so far away, only his stance gives away his masculinity, in the easy way he leans against the railing, like a king surveying his kingdom. Perhaps he sees me in my white top, dark skirt and pale, bare legs, as I stand on a bridge, drowning in a pool of light, looking up to his shadowy highness, thinking warm thoughts of kindredness toward him. Perhaps he does not.
I’ve to be very, very careful. This perception of beauty is so fragile. If I’m not terribly careful, I may forget myself and think of the people living in the boxes of light. And then the sadness swallows me. Drinks me down. I taste the isolation and it presses on my heart. I see all these lonely people. Living so-very alone in their small, suspended space. Above and below and beside one another, and yet silent strangers.
That’s when I try to focus on the shapes of the rectangles, the squares… try to see the patterns and the randomness. I marvel at the miracle of billions of photons emitted in these sacred floating squares, streaming towards me, bringing momentary joy. And I find peace.