It’s no secret that I don’t leave the house much; more accurate to say I leave the house as little as possible. Usually, I’ll go to the gym, or take a nice, long bike ride, then come home and write; today I thought I’d try something different. I love to walk, but with the conveniences of gym/bike it’s been a while since I’d done any, so this morning I packed a little bag and went for a walk.
I found a cozy little spot under a bridge, near enough to a park that I didn’t feel completely isolated, and started to write. I didn’t even notice the time passing as I filled page after page in my little notebook. I’m not usually a planner, so this was all new to me. I had planned on doing some disjointed scribbling, in hopes of coming up with a new story idea, and instead this person in my head said “this is me, listen to me, write this down.” After about two hours, I had learned who he was, what he could do, what drove him, etc. It is in no way what I had in mind when I set out to create something new, but it’s (indulge me) sooooo good.
As I lit a cigarette, I noticed a couple of kayakers who’d managed to get a little too close for comfort. I went back to writing and heard a voice drift across the water. “You know smoking’s bad for you.”
Without looking up, I offered up my usual response. “So’s talking to strangers…”
Now it’s a conversation.
“Just trying to look out for you.”
“You’re about forty years too late, thanks for the concern though.”
(I swear, I must look beatific when I write. That’s the only possible explanation for the amount of people who engage me and/or offer unsolicited advice)
While they shook their heads and paddled away from the (now) scary bald man sitting at the water’s edge, Paul (his name’s Paul) was raging inside my head.
“Call them back! Explain to them! They’re tourists, show them the two new condo complexes and the three new hotels being built on the opposite shore, then tell them how the city shelved plans for an emergency family shelter because ‘the homeless don’t really stick around.’ Walk them around the park, point out the piles of dog shit all over the place, gesture towards the bags, the trash cans provided free of charge by the city, then explain how the police ensure that the homeless stay away from here because it ‘spoils the experience for the snowbirds.’ Offer to walk them less than two miles south, so they can see the poverty that the city ignores, the families living in cars because there’s no place they can stay together. Tell them! Tell them!” and on and on.
The more he yelled, the more things occurred to me. This is a city that was literally built by transients. This town was founded as a place for circus folk and carnies to rest between stints on the road. This place wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for them.
But it’s so pretty, and people are awful, greedy, disgusting bastards.
Okay, I’m done now.