In the Kingsway bus shelter at 5:07pm, there isn’t room to move. Especially when the Siberian high is smiting your long underwear and chemical handwarmers with 60-click gusts and a shitload of snow. Everyone’s in here. The old guy with a bottle-a-day Johnnie Walker habit. The svelte young professional femme with the Coach purse and woolen coat. The chocolate bar eating after-workers. It is those two – those two youngsters kissing over in the corner – that everyone looks at with the corner of their eyes. Their tongues are everywhere. She: Maybe Grade 10 with a black dye job, pale face with a tincture of dagger. He: Likely her junior, hat perched on head, baggy ass, vague look – like he knows he’s lucky to be with suck a looker, and that she’ll be gone in no time. She kisses like a girl her age should – tongue sloppy technique and mouth open too wide. He kisses like an anteater might; unsure of what to make of this raven sucking the mouth off him. They go at it with a few gropes thrown in, a tit grab maybe, a hand on a crotch. It’s gratuitous given the locale, but there is an admirable honesty to this display. Everyone standing here shivering under the shitty electric heaters wishes they could be that brazen again. The buses are always late when the white stuff is crazy like this. My bus is nowhere in sight. Neither is theirs, it seems. They go at it for a few minutes more before the 8 pulls up. They get on holding hands, and I catch the boy wiping lipstick from his lips.
City at night, November 2005
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?