So last night I drive into Toronto. The way I go is to take the backroads as far as I can 'cause I like to avoid the major highways as much as possible. I went to catch Iron and Wine at the Music Hall on the Danforth, my old neighbourhood. Got there early so I tucked into my favourite Irish pub two or three doors down and sipped a half pint of cider. Told the bartender it had been far too long a time since I'd last cosied up to these hammered copper tables and he simply said, "welcome back" when he gave me my change. It still felt like home sitting there. When I got back to the hall, it was general admission and, as I was by my lonesome, I scored an empty seat in the fifth row centre just as the lights lowered. One of the best concerts I've seen in many moons. Sam Beam is a fucking genius and his voice is...well it's indescribable actually. Check him out yourself if you can.
After the concert, I headed back a few streets to my car, but then figured I'd take a stroll since it was such a beautiful night. A walk down memory lane to years when I was younger and still full of hope, lighter of heart maybe. Sauntered past my old house on Ingham. It was bought by a couple of Angels (literally their last name). I wandered around and couldn't help touching the older trees in the neighbourhood, guarding everything in their silent majesty. These giant witnesses of time. The old drycleaners where I'd forgotten my wallet one morning and was told to 'pay the next time'. The movie rental place where John, the Chinese owner, always teased me how my late charges kept food on the table for his family.
An electrical storm loomed in the distance and once the rain began to softly reach me, I saw two gay lovers walking slowly hand-in-hand so tenderly and I envied it. The streets were strewn with leaves of every colour and it caught my breath, as it always does, to see them swirl around in some cyclonic embrace in the middle of the road, the same way the wind can swirl your heart around visiting memories in the autumn. A drunk balanced himself as he walked along the little wall outside of an old church, like a child does when experimenting with his first fear of heights, testing himself. Made me recall this wall on the Southeast coast of England, the sole mechanism of play offered at recess, and the way we'd all gather cross-legged to hear Mrs. Read read aloud to us, our chins cupped in our five-year old palms. The soft glow of light emanating from some of the windows warmed my steps as I passed. Someone had planted a twiggy bush by one trunk and fashioned a banister up their steps with it. And yeah, I wept, okay? I remembered the taste of chocolate cake with maple icing and was craving it along with this ache surfacing in my womb, the one echoing beneath my left breast.
The equinox was Sunday and it was a wondrous way to celebrate the beginning of fall walking those streets with those old brick homes banking each crescent as I strolled. The moon is full tonight and it was coming on pretty bright as I turned each corner. It wasn't until I hit the dirt roads again that the rain really came down and, as my headlights illuminated the road ahead of me, they captured a frog leaping across. At first I thought it was another leaf, but it was bouncing too rhythmically and the underside of his belly and legs shone a bright white as he danced to the other side. And it made me think about the leaps and bounds I've been making this year for myself; the ones I've yet to make that still feel just around the corner.
And I hoped to God, even though I'm not religious at all, that I hadn't run him over as he was crossing. It would have been a shitty end to a beautiful, breathtaking night. A shitty end period 'cause he looked so damn happy to have the rain hitting his back like that. And maybe I shoulda pulled over and checked on him. Maybe I shoulda fucking kissed him 'cause for all I know I could fall in love any day now. Come to think of it, the autumn may be a better time of year for that kinda thing actually. It's always been winter in the past but that hasn't fared so well for me to be honest. And the thought of me kissin' that frog made me giggle with no radio on and just the sound of the rain hitting the windshield and the slow swish of the wipers failing to do the simple task required. Instead, my wheels keep rolling along and I imagine him making it to the grass and sitting there with his sides bloating and caving with each breath. And I smiled at this thought: life can feel so damn beautiful when you reach some place you're trying to get and the getting there can be enhanced tremendously with a little rainfall on your back in the autumn.
Next year is another leap year and I can't help but wonder where I'll land as I write this. Hope to shit I won't be flattened out by some tire in the middle of the goddamn night. I just want to reach that wet grass and breathe deep and crisp and even. Take it all in and feel heartened over the simplicity life can offer, traveling down this road...
Music: The Trapeze Swinger, Iron and Wine
This blog was originally posted on Nancy's Myspace profile on September 27, 2007.