Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yonge Line, looking forward to dinner.

We're pressed, eight of us, in the doorway. One has taken a nip from the gin in his LCBO bag. The woman next to him has caked blood on the shoulder of her white coat. And the whole area smells like pigs-in-a-blanket. He slips in just as the doors close, shoved along until he has no choice but to break into our circle.

Caucasian male, mid 40s, with salt and pepper hair, wearing a black leather jacket, collar up, and black and grey striped scarf.

He's been pushed against the door and struggles to keep his balance as we pull into the next stop. Four of us shuffle, delegating who goes where, who gets off soonest, who can afford to side step further into the car. He shoots me an apologetic glance and raises his arm past my shoulder to grip the glass behind me. He knows this means he'll have to stand as close as a husband, but he holds his book up to create a barrier thinking it helps. This makes him uncomfortable and he lowers it, meeting my gaze.

"That felt rude," he says.

"Actually," I reply. "I know that book. What point are you at?"

He turns to the side. Waist to waist, we're more like kindergarten play pals. He shares the book so that I'm holding one side while he supports the other, gripping it tighter than he needs to, as if to say, Don't take it; I'm not done yet. He taps his finger on the paragraph and I read:

The Law of Dreams, Peter Behrens (House of Anansi Press)

Page 111:

The floor was awash with spilled yellow meal, and the Bog Boys were feasting. They had hacked open sacks, broken into casks, smashed clay jars. Boys were cramming their mouths with ham and butter and fighting over beakers of honey and jam.

Street level, I pause, watching the flourescent man humming from the other side. Lunch had been salad, nothing to weight my stomach on a cold day. I picture those boys, famished, ravenous. I turn heel and walk the length of the Danforth stopping at a caterer advertising curried sweet potato and apple soup. Arriving home, I line up my purchases--soup, cranberry couscous, a loaf of macaroni and cheese and chocolate and butterscotch biscuits.

Full up, I boil the kettle, hot water to bathe the innards, and pull the book from my shelf.

Page 1:
Along the Scariff Road, heading northeast toward home, Farmer Carmichael rides his old red mare Sally through the wreck of Ireland.


Jean-Michel said...

Maybe it's because I was up too late last night, but this one really hit me. That last line (the first line, whatever), I don't know, it got me somehow.

Julie Wilson said...

A sleepy head lets things wash through it differently that an alert mind. I know that feeling...

Anonymous said...

Wow, this was so interesting to read. It is like a novel itself; reading how you go through your daily life meeting all these characters. This also reminded me of how I always have to manuvere through a crowed ttc bus:)
I can never read on the ttc. It's too loud for me and I would never dare to read on a crowed bus.
Awesome, keep it up!

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Amazing how we connect with those around us whether intentionally or not.

Julie Wilson said...

Anon, thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

I spent the summer commuting an hour out of town each day. By the end of the Bloor Line it was often just me and maybe five other people. At the beginning of the summer I felt sure I'd do the reading of my life, especially the mornings. You know what i discovered? Mr. iPod. I took my seat at the back, on the last car, tucked my knees up and stared out the window whether there was something to see or just my reflection. Turns out, I don't like to be weighed down with things. I have yet to read on transit. Kind of funny, hey? (Or lucky for me...)

Julie Wilson said...

OBG, you just never know. Personally, I'm always thrilled when an encounter turns out to be pleasant, kindly so, you know? I think no matter where you live, big city, small town, central or isolated, it's a struggle to find community. So it's so strange, yet assuring, when a random meeting/pairing gives you a shot of adrenaline to keep your head up and on the look out for opportunities to connect.