A conduit of intuition, a shift in everything seasonal can be had in the air today. Vital to the passage of time as I’ve always known it, apparent in the streets that once bustled only a couple days ago, or here especially on the deserted patio. The harbour is quiet, no sailboats leaving despite the good wind and calm demeanour of the water beyond the break wall.
It’s that sort of season where nobody really seems to know what the hell exactly to do with themselves. The week is packed the way it always was, especially if one is a parent, but beyond that, the weekends also lack the breathing room to wiggle out of the hustle and breath peace.
I watched the other day as the Blue Zephyr wound down country lanes into Sleepy Town, Ontario over and over, a fiscal hush having fallen like a fog over each of them as the wheels quickly put them behind us and then onto the next. My business in that area is of no consequence - I am a traveller with no real permanence. A wanderer of the seasons as I see fit.
If you were standing here albeit from a distance, you’d see the smile that graces this ugly mug. The smile of cooler nights and shorter days, harder work, cracked skin, scratches, blisters, bruises, miles and miles tacked onto the odometer, early mornings, early nights, fresh air, rain and autumn colours. The kind of shit that never leaves you hanging without the proper procession before it passes altogether and fades into memory that someone might akin to their glory days.
The chatter among the scant patrons in the dining hall revolves around those narrow minded topics that drive a person to all types of different madness. Chowing down on the plates, content and so am I. Here, alone, watching the world go by without the falsely projected perception that I am and you are and all of us are removed from it like so many would like us to believe. Each leaf in the poplar flip flaps oddly longing-like for escape into its earth-bound fate, returning to the ground like everything and everyone does, so I watch it in its plight for a bit and tune the conversations out.
And behind it, the red maple starting down the dapper road of final colour, rewarded for its shade maybe but perhaps for other things too. It’s earned it. Thank you for not faltering under the duress of the winter ice storms, summer winds and lightning, pal. Thanks for hanging around, I can’t speak on behalf of all these other oblivious bystanders but I appreciate you.
The waitress is nice enough, keeping my glass topped up, smiling through her fabric mask, and of course I refrain from asking her to sit down and wonder over how that conversation might go. She’s a human being and so am I but we don’t live in the same world. No, our realities are two different realms of life separating us yet binding all the same to a common ground, so I get to thinkin’ that maybe it would be that small talk that acts like a map to getting through a situation without too much left for discomfort, or would she be such an intellectual, so aware, going forth with guns loaded, ready and all set for conversation with the stranger alone at the table down the row, drinking beer and typing furiously on his phone.
But I don’t, cowardly as it might be, however she is working, a shimmy type dance of perfect timing between three different tables and periodically disappearing into the kitchen. That is what I am after all - a stranger. A nobody, a face at a table quiet and focused. No hope at all, really. No way of knowing that it’s possible to put all preconceived notions of humanity aside, the danger, the fervour inherent in the temptation of sex and struggle and insecurity, and just sit down and talk as two humans with a need to communicate with one another.
So, for obvious reasons, I politely accept the topping off of my glass, and stare outside across the docks again while Don Henley croons’ over the radio about baseball and lost love.
Let me describe this place. It’s a usually busy seafood restaurant with a waterside patio overlooking a small harbour type yacht club, the kind with the typical lobster traps, schooner models of all and every kind, lobster traps, fish mounts, kerosene lanterns in the corners collecting cobwebs, fuel tanks and customary wood walls stained something’ natural I guess.
That’s where I am. Sting with Andy Summers and Steward Copeland serenading that stalker tune from speakers in the rafters, watching the gun metal sky over the river across from the harbour while the blonde ale takes hold and everything shifts with a whole new meaning and whatnot. The club sleepy, as if calling it quits for the season and supposing it’s not far off.
Then, as if to contradict everything up until now, there goes a yacht, clearing the rocks and then out into the bay before heading east and out of view completely. The yacht may as well be heading to Bolivia for all I know, for once they head east, it’s a few drops down to the Atlantic.
And while I’m finishing this beer, I look around and notice that the place has begun to get busier. People coming in for their evening fill, or maybe date night, or whatever folks do these days. Like a creep, I scan the tables. Imagine the dismay that descends over me when I see those couples who aren’t so much as interested in talking to one another! I watch them and they’re doing all manner of things as far away from intimate as possible. Texting, reading, silent, staring down at their tables and not across at each other and in that vital moment I realize three things.
That I’m becoming sad, and that it’s time to pay my bill and head out the front door. But also that I miss her. The couple waterside watch as a family of Mute Swans swims by the railing, and the Dave and Glenda rise, pull their phones out and snap numerous photos to show their retired friends later this week. I look at my empty glass and know for sure it’s time to leave, and so I do.