A Toronto Day

I’m living in an exquisite hotel room, all white and maroon, with a rain shower (square 7×7″ head) that I love standing under.  I’m sitting on the comfy couch, tapping out the words while the downtown sun splashes through the sheers behind me.  I have a sanctuary.

Yesterday I had fish.  I went to Ripley’s Aquarium to see a lot of swimming life.  The best scenes for me were:

  1.  A huge cylindrical tank of small fish, all hovering in mid-water until some unknown leader suggested a course change and the school responded
  2. One little fishy person who seemed to tread water, sitting vertically in place, its mouth doing deep breathing exercises
  3. A gaggle of blue eels, wrapped around each other, with each head looking shockingly like a human face, complete with a variety of expressions
  4. Standing in a tube with sea creatures meandering by to my left, my right and above.  For a long while, I stood in place, waiting for a toothy shark or the flat mass of a manta ray to pass right over my head
  5. The “Ray Bay”, a huge aquarium full of rays.  Some would approach the wall of glass and climb straight up, their undersides apparently revealing a big smiling mouth

I rode the subway here and there, remembering my daily trips from home to the downtown campus of the University of Toronto.  90% of my fellow passengers were connected – that certainly wasn’t part of my memory cells.  I reminisced about how I used to watch people by gazing at their reflection in the window beside me, and I followed suit.  Such stealth!

I was also jolted by the speed at which most people walked … definitely a sprint.  Oh yes, and then there’s escalator etiquette.  Stay on the right side if you want to stand, and watch the flow of humanity beat you to the destination.  A fellow told me yesterday about climbing a narrow escalator in a Toronto mall, just room for one person at a time.  He had chosen to stay still.  The woman behind would have none of it, apparently.  It must have been an effective body check as she squeezed past him.  (Sigh … and no thanks)

One subway station had two large posters that saddened me:

Don’t want to make eye contact?  Read a subway poster

Thinking of suicide?  There is help.  Let’s talk

My second concert in two days was a pretty loud affair, featuring four brilliant musicians: lead guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums.  I enjoyed seeing them express their craft.  But I wanted more quiet stories about life … my definition of folk music.  The highlight for me was when a woman joined them on stage and sang of a place – Aille, I think – and the love that happened there.  The song and the voice were haunting.  It was far and away the highlight of the concert for me.

I wanted to tell the artist how her performance had moved me.  At the break, I looked for her and saw that she was engaged in conversation with the pianist the whole time.  After the whole shebang was done, I sought her out again.  She was talking at the bar to a woman who had sung a song with the band during the second half.  And they kept talking.  I kept standing in the background.  I wanted to thank the Aille inspirer but I didn’t want to share my appreciation with the other person being there, because that woman’s performance didn’t reach me.  How strange.  I was determined to contribute to the first lady without diminishing the second.  How much of my desired contact was the ego speaking?  I don’t know.  Finally, as they continued chatting, the voice inside me said “Let her go, Bruce.”  So I did.  And off into the night …

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