Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I remember trying on gloves....

I have a 13 year old daughter, and she is often looking at some new shirt I have and saying "No fair, how come you get all the cool clothes?" and we end up sharing sometimes. I start with this to contrast it with my mother's clothes. Never once in my childhood or teenage years did the thought of wanting to wear my mother's clothing ever occur to me. Her clothing was UGLY, all polyester and fortrel, just awful!!!

Except for the gloves. My mother had a box on the top shelf of her closet, and if my younger sister and I asked nicely, we could take it down. It was full of gloves. There were little white gloves with lace around the wrist. There were long black gloves that pulled up to our armpits. There were orange gloves, green many gloves! We had never seen Mom wear these, but we knew that sometime in her past, she must have. This made her mysterious to us, because she didn't seem like the type of woman to wear something as fancy as gloves.

We'd put on the gloves, tie a scarf in our hair, and pretend we were rich. I'd put on the sparkly silver gloves, find some sunglasses, and pretend I was a movie star. Pam would put on the long black gloves and pretend to be a grieving widow....we would take them on and off for hours, pulling them off with our teeth like some vamp in an old movie.

I don't know where the outfits went that matched all of those glamorous gloves. I'll bet they weren't ugly. I'll bet I would have wanted to borrow them.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I remember being unable to look away...

One of my special treats is taking myself out for lunch. I love eating by myself. I bring a book, I bring my journal, I watch people. This is one of my favorite things to do.

One day I was at a little cafe that used to be above Scratch Records in Vancouver. I was seated in the window with a great view of the street below and the Cambie Hotel right across from me. I was drinking my coffee after my lunch, watching the people walk by, more interesting than waves on the beach. Because of the area, the mix of people was wonderfully strange, business men in expensive suits, drunks, punks...quite a mix of society ebbing and flowing past me.

I leaned back in my chair, and my eye was caught by what was happening in the top window of one room in the Cambie. There were two old looking men with greasy grey hair sitting at a rickety table right in the window. The one man rolled up his sleeve, nice and neat, way above his elbow. As he picked up a rubber tube and began tying it around his arm, the other man lit a match and held it to a spoon.

They were preparing to shoot heroin, right in plain view of me at my shiny table in the neat cafe with a third cup of strong coffee. There was nothing to do but watch or look away, and I found I could not look away. They both injected the drug, then sat at the table nodding. I watched for a long time.