By Otis Moore
Recently, my internal clock has been on point. This morning was no exception. I got up 5 minutes before 7 AM. I turned on the light, grabbed a National Geographic, and retreated back into the warm part of my sheets. After I perused some pictures of Peruvian jungles, my dad knocked on my old white rickety door and came in. He reminded me that I was on my own this morning. My mother was in France and my brother and he were off to play tennis. After a bit more exploration, I took the dog off of my bed and took her on the usual morning walk.
The walk goes like this: out the front door, turn east, walk half a block by all the old Portuguese people who smile and wave. I’ve known these people for my whole life and our relationship has stayed the same; we smile and wave hello. Cross the street, walk another 8.5 meters, and then I’m at the top of the lane.
The phenomenon of the lane is common in my area of Toronto. I learned to master them in the summers of grade five, six, and seven. When my friends and I would play manhunt, the key to winning the game was a solid poker face to fool the other boys into thinking you weren’t it, a fast bike, and a concentrated knowledge of the labyrinth of the lanes. I consider myself a master of these lanes and show them off when I feel I should. But as I walk through these lanes now, I think about those games. I think about where that crew is now, and how when we get together we still play this same game just in a very different 18-year-old-boy-faux-thug way. And I would like to elaborate on that but I really shouldn’t. Things around here have morphed and evolved, not revolutionized.
When my dog and I arrived at the lane’s mouth, it’s the day’s first magic hour. It’s the hour my uncle told me he waits for all day to shoot a scene, because the light is so incredible. The sun is still very much a morning sun. It sits like a scoop of orange sherbet balanced on the fire hall tower flagpole. The lane is dotted with little water crystals. The sun shines and bounces through puddles and water drops and windows with the blinds still down, sleeping people hiding from the morning on the other side.
I remember when I first recognized one of RT’s stickers among the graffiti works that is now painted in a watercolor layer of orange sherbet. When I was a young child, the bulk of my spare time, when weather permitted, was at the sandy, urine-smelling psychedelic coloured park at the top of the lane. On the other side of the lane mouth, there was this guy’s house. My friends and I always started crazy rumors about the guy who lived there. The usual rumors for nine year olds were that he was a murderer or an alien. The man had an old blue van, and the man who lived in the house and drove that van was an exact reflection of that van, old and blue. It wasn’t till what, I think, was my last summer as a park regular that he came over with his garden hose and stood there and talked with us and filled up our water guns. It was largely that man and the grunginess of the lane that kept me from exploring it when I was younger. Now nothing in this ally scares me. I know nothing in it is going to “get” me and I’m not going to have to “get” anything. It feels like my property, or rather, a property that I share with others but that’s just as much mine as theirs.
I stop at what has become my usual halfway stop. I stop here because there is an oddly well-kept patch of very bright green grass. It’s so green and well kept you might think you were on a Scottish fairway. The dog loves it. There is also a couch off to the side. The couch is a little damp, but that’s okay. The view from the couch isn’t that great. Or maybe it is if you like the look of Ginny’s house from the last part of Forrest Gump. I sit for about two minutes, because I don’t have any place to be–a rarity with the rapid pace of life I’ve come to love like a junkie and his kit. The world stops. It’s all beautiful. It’s all where it’s supposed to be, nature taking back the new urban landscape. It’s my roots growing over, around and through the urban spaces in my life.
My companion and I continue to promenade on down the lane. I always remember my thoughts about my last walk right about here. There is an old wood fence on the right and a new blank white one on the left. I think the fence helps with the flow of thoughts. The fence keeps the thoughts from going rouge and keeps them in the context of the lane. They are junk thoughts.
The birds are chirping. That’s it for noise, really. Except for the fire hall bells. The sound of the fire hall bells and especially that space after the last one is my favourite sound in the world. Simply nothing compares to the 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8… silence… Every one who can sense is waiting for that next bell toll that never comes.
My dog stops to sniff a stick that fell from a tree into the lane last night. I lift my no longer tired face into warm orange sherbet sun for a kiss. Aren’t first period spares great?