It’s a little after 7:00 and everyone is a little dreary-lidded, me included. A woman snoozes on the station bench – heavy boots, red sweater. I turn on the ‘phones and cue up some Dylan (a morning ritual). She’s hugging her backpack very tightly and her head is askew. Such peace in her. It’s kind of baffling, actually. Ten minutes go by and she doesn’t move. I think, just for a moment, that maybe she has died right there on the platform. Surely someone would have noticed. Odd that a person could get any sleep with the morning bustle all around. Then again, maybe she’s not asleep. Maybe she’s just resting purposefully. I walk by her and cough, just to see if she is as sound as she appears. Not a single move save her light breathing, which I just then notice. Icksnay on the dead hypothesis. Finally I see my bus come down the pipe. Sleeping girl has not stirred. I consider waking her. If I fell asleep in the bus station, I’d want someone to wake me. But I don’t do anything. She’s at peace and there’s no sense disrupting that. I hop my bus. As I pull away from the station I see that the young woman is still sleeping. Motionless as a stone painter’s hand. Desolation Row cues up and I lean my head against the window. Catch a few winks before work.
Red Swirl, Kasbar Lounge Edmonton, 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?