Sometimes, when I assist my amazing designer friend Ming Wong, part of my job is to shop for costumes. Right now we’re working on West Side Story for the Randolph Young Company, which is a group of incredibly talented teenagers. I LOVE West Side Story. I can’t explain it, but I’ve loved it since the first time I saw the film. I think it’s the music, or maybe the dancing gang wars. At any rate, despite the fact that this show will eat up my entire February social life, I’m looking so forward to it.
So tonight, as I’m in the Village of Value, listening to tunes on my iphone and trying to guess what a Puerto Rican teenager might have worn in 1950 something, I keep getting distracted by various emails that keep coming in. One of them gets my nose outta joint. My Leonine instinct is to execute a five digit paw swipe, claws extended but instead I continue with the task at hand. By the time I finish, it’s ten to nine, I’m starving because I haven’t yet been home from work, I’m realizing NONE of my laundry is getting done, the store manager is being super bitchy to me, and I’m now cranky.
At least the check out line is reasonable.
Ahead of me is a young-ish family. Mom, dad, boy and girl both under 11. I like to watch the kinds of things that people buy to see what sort of a story they tell you about those people. They have a couple of clothing items, and an electric fan. The dad, who is very tall and rugged, and kind of handsome in an old-before-his-time blue collar way has two other items that he pays for himself. One is a stack of pro-athletics motivational videos, and the other is a huge, never-taken-out-of-the-plastic paint by numbers canvas of a mountain vista beside a lake. I see this and tears spring to my eyes.
Such a quiet, fragile statement. In my mind he dreams of peaceful moments in a cozy corner of their little home, where he can crack open his paint by numbers and just be still, and calm. Or maybe he dreams of being an artist, and believes that paint by numbers kits are the easiest way to accomplish this, short of watching that crazy PBS guy that looks like the love child of Art Garfunkle and Beaker. Then I think that maybe he’s purchasing this as a special family treat that will live on the infrequently used formal dining table, and when the kids have had supper, finished their homework, and are in their jammies ready for bed, the whole family will turn off the tv, listen to old records from the seventies, and spend some quiet time sharing an activity.
That’s what I would do.
I have a lump in my throat. I decide that the store manager is over-worked and under-appreciated. I feel affection for the leather-faced, bleach blonde cashier who is always so sweet and friendly, who really appreciates beautiful things, and who was probably some kind of foxy in her heyday. I think of how small we all are, and how much we all feel, and hope for, and dream of.
I walk out into the dark, seedy stretch of Landsdowne and Bloor, I turn up Joni Mitchell and I feel lonely. Again.
Home at last, I sink into the comfort of my giant sofa, left over pad thai and giant glass of sparkling water at hand. Arthur curls up beside me and snores loudly. I peel off my socks with my monkey toes, and undo the top button of my jeans.
I’ve been collecting love songs all day. It’s a little project I made up for work, to add some fun to our website. This has put me in some kind of mood. Melancholic…a little…
My far-away friend who drives trains has sent me all of the lyrics to the Supertramp song Downstream. Everyone else has posted their songs fairly publicly, but he’s sent me an email. I wonder if it’s directly intended for me, and it makes me smile.
I think about my favourite love songs. They are all sad, and complicated. There are so many. Let me ponder these and I’ll post a list, with as many links as I can find.
Maybe I’ll take a bath, and marinate in warm water and baby oil. Smelling like a baby makes everything better.