I see them nearly every morning. Some mornings I miss them by moments and a minute later I see the woman pedaling down the street alone. Summer or winter, rain or shine, daybreak or darkness they are there, on 109 street and 88 avenue. In these days of shallow sun and blackened moods the two lovers have endeared themselves to me. When I catch them they are the highlight of my morning. To the chugging traffic, their ritual may be insignificant. Even trite. To me, in this season, they are something like an early sunrise.
My 7:00am walk to their corner is sparsely populated. The walking sometimers that I know show up once in a while. The girl with the toque. The guy who never does up his leather jacket no matter how cold it is. The smoking granny who shivers in front of her apartment condominium, cigarette dangling with a charming inelegance. The sidewalk snow clearers are out early and they give me an occasional nod. I usually catch the “don’t walk” hand at the corner of 109th street and Sask Drive. I see the lovers approach from the south on their bicycles. Most times they catch the same light cycle as I do. They pedal across the temporarily parked street. Stop in front of the High Level Diner. Pull beside each other. (If I were 20 seconds earlier or later on my journey, I wouldn’t see them. It’s uncanny that I see them 3 days out of 5.) Eyes close. Liplocked for a moment only. They part. Guy shoots northbound to cross the high level bridge. Woman continues west on 88 avenue. It seems strange to have affection for people that I know not an iota, but I do. No matter how shitty the day is, they are there. On their bikes. Kissing as any couple would.
Selkirk Hotel, October 2006
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?