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baby on the street

Walking through Grandview park, an aboriginal woman sits on a rock among heather and plays a tiny pink and white ukelele. I am babysitting little Henry Devine right now and the day is sunny. He bites his lower lip just like his playwright Dad does when he realizes the line he thought was funny is actually funny.  It endears me so much I have to give the baby a little kiss just because. He is happy, the sun is shining, and he hears music. Some kind of African drum is being played by a tall black leopard of a man by the rink. Women hover, sashaying to his beat. His eyes flash, hungry and pleased.images-1

Children are squealing in the park, climbing to the top of the rope pyramid. Three nannies all huddle and laugh with their glorious hair, their high end strollers, their marvellously round hips…once in a while they call out to a blonde kid. I decide they are Mexican. Why? Because Nora’s nanny was Mexican? Because the Italian Ravioli store now stocks Mexican food? I don’t know. A girl with pink hair writes furiously in her journal. A hipster is lying on his back on the park bench, holding one foot up with a Metro Sexual elegance, staring, enthralled, with his boot. I wonder if it’s because he just bought his first pair of Campers or if he’s quite high and marvelling, “These are my FEET. These are my feet that carry the weight of me, every day, like – WOW. Like WOW.”

A little further up, two retail babes in skinny jeans with flat ironed hair and eyeliner are on their lunch break. They are talking about men. “Yeah, like, really, if he doesn’t call you back right away, then F him! I mean, he’s done this to you before, right?”images-2

“I know, but then he can also be really sweet. I don’t understand it. I think maybe he’s conflicted…”

I stroll by and want to stop and say, “Real love is easy. Cut him loose, save your energy.”

Hind sight is 20 20 from the woman who chased after unrequited love for 45 years. Why don’t we listen? When men say, “I don’t know” they mean, “I don’t know.” They don’t mean, “I really love you but because of my long standing issues with my mother leading to my fear of commitment, I can’t open up to you right now but I might if you keep trying.”

A group of five middle aged men have gathered this afternoon, midweek, to laugh around a park bench. One of them is missing teeth. The other is a professional painter, given his splattered trousers.

At the trunk of a tree sits a boy of maybe nineteen, in a black hoodie. He has a backpack, a dirty sleeping roll, and a puppy. He’s a baby street person is what he is. He still has acne. He is a mouth breathing lost boy with strawberry blonde hair and one hell of a story. What made him leave wherever he was that he called home? What was the event that got him to decide the street was better time spent? And what was his first decision? “I’ve always wanted a dog, I’m going to get a puppy.”

I want to stop and ask him if he’d like to talk to me. I want to wrap him in a blanket and feed him soup. (I’m sure he would hate that) I want to tell him there are really really wonderful replacement Moms and Dads. And then I wonder if that is true. And then I wonder if that is presumptuous. Maybe he just got hooked on crack and has great parents agonizing at home? Unlikely. Crack comes after a crack. So…instead, I decide to push the stroller up to the grocery store and buy him a gift card he can redeem for food. The cashier is wise to me, she says, “You may want to put in black ink: not to be redeemed for cigarettes or lottery.”images-3

I decide to leave it up to him. I get back to the park and…he’s gone. Shoot. Oh that’s too bad. Maybe I’ll see him again. I send up a prayer, “God, please look after your little fair sparrow and his dog. That skin type is not going to do well sleeping on cement.”

I see the maple leaf flying between the large trees. I look out at the park at all the various cultures and the economic diversity…Commercial drive is so “Canadian”. On this particularly spectacular day, everyone is smiling. They are sharing the same space and for a moment, they are at peace, basking under the rare winter sunshine in the rainforest we call home. It gives me such hope. Such hope that this can be achieved on a world scale. Peace. This is my home and I want to take care of my own. Baby Henry starts to whimper. He’s hungry and wants his mother. There’s only so much I can do for him.Unknown

 

 

 

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3 comments

  1. Renita

    I love your writing, Lucia. What a tender story. What a tender one you are.

  2. William Hay

    Puppy most likely stolen. Principal use of dogs by such young men is that it gets them more funds from Canadian taxpayers. Crack reference dates. Young are more likely into crystal meth. Huxley era drug experience and Woodstock might involve ‘fascination’ ( the foot image) but today’s drug pursuit rawer and banal. Maybe 11 year olds go wow too but given Canada hasn’t highest teen use of drugs in west, a 19 year more likely jaded minimal. I like the reference to the cigs and lottery (yes) but you (your character) projects ‘story’ on him. Odd. My sympathies are with the dog.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      Nobody knows how the story goes.

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