The morning commute was beautiful. My sleeves short but adequate, my shoes scuffed but dry, my hair uncombed but pert. The easterly sun was sniffing the tops of the downtown steel and blue as I made my way west to the bus corral. I saw my usuals, the same people at the same time. There were few anomalies, save my shoelace coming undone at 109st. I thought for a moment that this Monday would be a gracious one, a Monday that would go into the books as “bearable”. The homeward commute changed that thought. It was a bastard. The kind of home trip that makes me want to swear off the bus system and buy a freakin’ car. I work in the west end, where traffic is extra shitty because 156th street is closed for construction. My first bus was 25 minutes late getting my stop. 25 extra minutes in the rain with no low-end bus shelter in sight. Not unbearable, and not completely unpleasant. Unexpected. The wind picked up a bit as I stood there and watched the palling gray clouds pass over me. Finally my blue barge rolls around the corner, all reckless lateness. On the bus soaked and rattled, I pull on the ‘phones and hit some Pretenders, and I listen to Chrissie Hynde alternate between indecipherable vocal snapping a-la Tom Verlaine and panting into the mic, before the boys hop into the guitar rip and make me smile for the first time this afternoon.
Rain ridges the windows and from an open one, cracked in the more optimistic AM no doubt, I catch a few drops of water on my forehead. Wiped away with my smelly sleeve and added to the soak. Bus ratchets up another few minutes of lateness at a few logjammed intersections and makes the station a good half hour behind schedule. Pisser.
Already drenched, I start off from the corral as the rain continues. Big drops this time, not the dallying of before. Turn up my collar, speed my step, and go into the rain. Cold and sopping and a hockey game to watch. Something beautiful about getting your shoulder into Monday evening coming home.
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?