He was distant and she was in tears when they left the movie theatre. They held hands alright, but she wiped her cheeks with her free hand. He flipped on the radio as soon as they got into the car. She looked out the window as they drove. Nary a word between them. He asked what was wrong, but got the usual nothing in response. They drove past a convenience store that had a tattered but still serviceable sign. It caught her eye for a moment. At a red light, his hand went to her thigh. Her hand did not move to meet his. In the elevator up to his flat, the uncomfortable silence was broken by his half-lidded apology. He did not know what he had done, but felt that an “I’m sorry” would ease the situation. She said nothing, wiped her drying eyes and looked up at the lighted numbers ticking by.
They sat on opposite ends of the couch. She curled up with arms crossed, he cross legged and scanning blue channels with the TV remote. Click. Blue. Click. He went to bed first. Didn’t even say good night. She stared blankly at the TV for another 30 minutes before turning in. His back was to her as she entered the bed. She laid with her back to him. She knew that he was awake. She turned over and spooned him, placed her arm around his waist. His hand went to meet hers and was accepted. They lay there awake and speechless for some time before falling asleep. He awoke first and slipped out to work, leaving a peck on her cheek. She feigned sleep and enjoyed his lips on her skin for that moment. At the bus shelter, he did something that he had never done before. In an attempt to right the wrong, whatever it was, and in the absence of any witnesses who could appreciate his efforts, he wrote something on a wall. A lunge, perhaps a foolish one, at declaring that which he could not bring himself to speak. He wrote,
I feel that words couldn’t express
so I wrote it down on
the wall to say it best
take my hand and you
will see your heart
is keeping time with me
what a feeling
Maybe he meant it. Maybe he hoped to mean it one day. Then he went to work.
Graffiti on a bus shelter, U of A, May 2007
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?