After some appointments downtown, I found myself not yet ready to depart the urban environment. Sunlight called me down the street lined with old snow, skims of ice and puddles.
In as little as a block I went from the yuppie-ville of high-end breakfast places and trendy lunch outlets to sketchy people in rough clothes who ignored social cues and openly stared as I progressed down the street. I keep forgetting my hair is purple now.
I suppose the health and Rehab centre on the corner contributed to this urban underbelly feel. I kept walking, and found a tiny violently pink shop that looked to be no more than a single room. I think I’d like to visit it, no matter what the menu.
Rounding the corner, I found brick business buildings of a bygone era, still rife with detail, a street that still gloriously sported a row of mature trees, and a chap with crutches who said, “Nice colours!” as he walked by.
The road dipped down and the brooding shadow of a concrete overpass loomed. It seemed both post-apocalyptic and whimsical as its serpentine path arched away a few scant yards above.
The flavour of the people felt hunched shouldered and hard edged, like they might ask you for a few dollars, and then insult you if you didn’t pay (which happened) or maybe just wonder what right you thought you had walking in their neighbourhood.
It is as close to a bad part of town as I think this city gets, which, all in all, isn’t very bad, thankfully.
I passed a huddle of people and belongings piled under an orange tarp beside a wide empty lot just before a narrow old elevated bridge. There were tattoos and dreadlocks aplenty among the scattered goods, but one man, naked to the waist, etched in ink showed a surprising inclination to industry that I hadn’t expected to see in a street person as he swept up a pile of debris along the edge of the sidewalk. As if this was his home, and this his own front yard.
Poignantly, it may have been.
It made me want to go speak to him. But a woman alone? Would it be wise?
Still, I experienced a surge of respect for the man, wishing now I had had more courage.
Perhaps that is why Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs.