Downtown is a girl with dirty runners and a guy with cigarettes. A few patent brogue flashes mixed in with the glint of stainless steel thermoses. Heels clicking, strollers rocking, mothers fraying. Everything in its usual rhythm. I’m waiting for the 8 near the crowded mall entrance. This is my favorite spot in the city. 102 ave and 101 street. It’s a goldmine of hot beauty and despair. The city proper is encapsulated in the 100 or so meters of this block. A bit of everybody is there.
I see the couple leaning against the glass of the office tower. He’s got a face that only a mother could love; scarred with deep cuts and his eyes seem too small. Almost looks like he just got sprung. She’s a cubicle dweller somewhere – got the cheap brown suit and the practical glasses to prove it. She’s all over him like a brunette coat. Up and down his face with her lips. Hands on his ass. He seems faintly reluctant, but hey, what guy wouldn’t want that? Quite a scene, really. All within the narrow strokes of fading daylight. A nice refresh from the suits and beggars that make up the base of this strip.
They go at their almost dryhump for another minute or two before the 99 comes lumbering down the ave. It is her bus, apparently. They disengage after a long, wet kiss. He turns around and starts to walk off. She approaches the bus, stops in the doorway, turns around and stands there, blocking the entrance. She calls his name across the crowded sidewalk. He is twenty feet away, but he hears just fine and turns around.
“I love you” she calls.
“I love you, too” he croaks, and then turns and continues walking away.
I have to chuckle a bit before guffawing. What is this, the final scene from some cheesy romantic comedy? Have these two drama majors seen Pretty Woman a few too many times? Maybe. Still, two people declaring their love for each other across a crowded sidewalk is not a scene that I see every day. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.
I keep my cynicism in check. It is too easy to go there. The lovers had their five minute fling under the glass and steel and diesel of downtown and left a lovely trace on the sidewalk.
I’m glad I was witness.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
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?