1. Dress For Success
I wandered up Charles St to meet with a client. We sat around her kitchen table, signed some paperwork, then talked about business, but not exclusively. Our conversation pushed into areas beyond what was strictly necessary and I was pleased by that. I like these interactions, they connect me - a bit of a loner, really - to the larger world.
On my way home I caught sight of my reflection in the window of The Elm. The air was full of ice, freezing rain, and I’d thrown on an old toque, a black parka. With the unkempt beard I was someone your mother your mother would probably warn you against.
I really don’t think an awful lot about what I’m going to wear to work. I think that if I put a tie on, washed the car religiously, I’d lose business in this, the best of neighbourhoods. It’s not what you iron in the morning that matters.
Later still, I was running a bath for my daughter. One hand under the tap, checking the temperature, and another holding onto an IPA just the right side of frozen. Your jacket makes you too businessy, she told me and so I removed it, hung it on the end of a towel rack. It’s important to close the distance between you and your children, if you can.
It was still draped there in the morning, the creases steamed nicely from its back. The scalp of my old life, as Leonard Cohen said.
At the end of a three-hour meeting that morning I tried to slip a pen into the pocket of a cotton jean jacket bought last year in London. A second skin lately. The pen wouldn’t drop, and only when I got back to the office did I realize I had the jacket on inside out.
2. Mistaken Identity
A few months back, the police taped off the brick house across the street from my office. Eventually they wheeled out a body wrapped into a waterproof canvas shroud. I knew the guy who lived in that apartment and I thought back over the few conversations I’d had with him when he lived elsewhere, up near The Memorial Centre.
He was a decent artist, one who drew with fine lines and black ink; he caused figures to rise from the blank page as movingly as a potter draws clay up from her wheel. But he was also a bit of an asshole who took advantage whenever he could.
I didn’t mourn his passing exactly, though I did muse a little on how impermanent it all is and how lucky I am to be still kicking and mostly thriving. The usual drivel. But then just this week I saw him walking up the street, wrapped up in a scarf I recognized. I’d got it all wrong. I’d killed off the wrong man.
I still don’t know how I feel about his reappearance. Pleased, I suppose, in some mild way. But someone sure died that day and my not knowing who it was somehow adds a deeper poignancy to the memory.
* The photo up top was taken at the AGO in the wonderful Yayoi Kusama exhibition.