Calgary is defiant with money. A women clickity clacks down 17th Avenue wearing outrageous hot pink pumps she paid a lot for. I can tell by the heel. Another slips out of a cab in a bright neon yellow designer dress, knees together, short skirt. She doesn’t care that she’s sixty. She has great legs. Why shouldn’t she? Matching boys roar past in matching black Porsches – so loud I have to cover my ears. The young lady next to me in the restaurant patio, nibbling here and there at her various high end tapas, is bothered by a wasp. She captures it in her napkin and squishes the wasp right into the beautifully prepared salad the waiter just brought her, destroying the insect and the presentation. I am shocked. I would ¬†never waste either so brazenly.IMG_1557 More than one urban outdoorsman lurches past and growls for change. Why are they all so aggressive? Is it because the weather is changing?IMG_1561

I walk back towards the LRT. I don’t remember so many homeless in Calgary. Last time I was here in 2010 the whole city shimmered with optimism. Perhaps it is my imagination but the energy here has shifted into something far more guarded. My brother-in-law is a postman and tells me he delivers a shocking amount of “final notice” mail to huge homes out in the suburbs with shiny big trucks in the lane.

There is a line of cursing blackened rumpled men occupying the underpass, kicking around an empty bottle of gin. I think of a fireman I dated about ten years ago who told me about the frozen bodies he would find when the weather turned cold. Up up up I look at the glassy shimmering skyscrapers, gleaming like they are covered in gasoline. I am nervous to walk beside gigantic structures built on a substance as slippery as oil.

Nobody but the financially fluid belong downtown it seems. You can’t park your car within a 45 minute walk without a credit card. No residential pockets. No 3 hour free. No taking your chance on a permit only. Can’t throw a coin at a meter without it laughing its head off with scorn. “You and your dirty small money jingling around in your purse”…

I pass steak house after steak house after steak house and after a while the pictures of the bleeding meat start to get creepy.IMG_1562

I like Calgary. I like beef. Why is this all too much for me?

I enter the theatre and sigh with relief. Ah. Beauty. Ah. Words. Ah laughter and free coffee. Craig looks up from his notes and smiles, “nice dress!” And we begin to make belief.

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