I was always a huge fan of James Joyce’s Dubliners. If I didn’t have to worry about money, I would live my life in pursuit of writing the greatest collection of short stories on life and love I was capable of.
In 2012, during a rough patch in my life, I decided to partner with a friend to publish a book. The stories there were born from my own experiences living and loving in Toronto, and while none of them are very good, they are all to me very meaningful. This is one, in particular, that I remember fondly and painfully.
You can find the full book, His Toronto, on the iBooks Store.
“So, here’s what we’re going to do,” he said with a smirk. They stood together, thirteen floors above, looking out over the city. “We’re going to play a game. We’re going to go for an epic walk together, and we’re going to search the city for a cool little memory. We’ll each find one, and we’ll each write a little story about it. Sound like fun?”
A smile drew on her face slowly and with clear trepidation, but her eyes belied her reserved expression. Who is this guy, she thought, and how does he do this?
“Okay. So I’m going to try not to lead to us places where I already know there’s great stuff. There are some really great graffiti spots…”
“No,” he retorted. “We’ve got to find something more unique than that. It can be anything: a simple rock lodged in a plain old road, a nondescript house, whatever ignites that creative fire within you and gets you putting pen to page effortlessly.”
He motioned to the city around them, visible in all its glory from the spanning glass windows that encased his condo. It stood proudly, with occasional clean-lined obelisks rising high into the sky and humble hovels dotting the streets between.
With the sun beginning to set, the two began their adventure. The talk of the walk was exploratory, as the two began to delve deeper into themselves, souls ajar but not yet agape. Cautiousness abound as the exchanged continued, neither wanting to prematurely open the floodgates that would lead to triumph or tragedy. It was a dance that had gone on for months and a dance that might continue for months further.
Their walk took them on a tour of a nearby borough as they moved from side-street to side-street in the hopes of escaping the main routes. The conversation ebbed and flowed naturally, and to his delight, it was earnest and frank — enlightening.
After a few hours and with the night’s close quick approaching, the two cut through Kensington Market. As they traveled through the area, they came upon a monument of sorts in the form of a broken-down car. He stopped to observe the site as strangers streamed by.
Producing his phone from his pocket, he carefully framed the picture. The car lay in rest, dull silver paint slowly growing duller, with its front axis up on blocks. Masking its age was the plethora of graffiti, which gracefully hid the aluminum body’s wrinkles and scabs. From the inside, two evergreen trees sprouted, escaping the windshield’s mock canopy in search of the sunlight provided by the sole orbiting celestial body, a street lamp.
He began to wonder what the story could be. Perhaps a man’s long journey to the city from some far away place ended here, and his car was left as a memorial to his journey. Perhaps it was the home of a street artist who worked diligently to bring color to our otherwise-gray world. And perhaps it was just an abandoned car that the locales decided would make for a great canvas, a showcase of Kensington’s flower power sensibilities.
It didn’t matter. The story had already been written for him from the moment she arrived that night. As he snapped the picture, he spoke to himself aloud.
“This might be the one.”
But she was out of earshot, already moving on down the street amongst the other passers-by.