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a friend’s visit

My friend Patsy is here, visiting from Gabriola Island. She and I have had the same trajectory in life, from actress to writer, teacher and editor, only she on a remote B.C. island and I in downtown Toronto. We met in Halifax in 1970; Patsy threw me my 20th birthday party that summer, and we have never lost contact since. We talk endlessly not only about our lives, but about the word business.

On Sunday we shared a few special treats, besides our pleasure in each other’s company. A friend had given me two tickets to the Toronto Art Fair, so we went to spend a few hours at this unbelievable show, bursting with the talent of visual artists from around the world. I was able to see the work through Patsy’s eyes as well as my own, discovering, for example, that she likes blurry canvases, and I do not. Perhaps that has more to do with our eyeballs than our aesthetic sensibilities. (A conversation overheard as we walked past, between an older man with a distinguished grey ponytail and a younger man all in black with pointy shoes, the young man drawling, “Well, I was going for a more … contemporary aesthetic.” Meaning, was my guess, I was trying to be really, really hip.)
Later, we huddled in the house avoiding the Hallowe’en hoards. As I’ve written before, Cabbagetown is Hallowe’en Central – the man on the corner had a thousand little chocolate bars and ran out. I feel that after 20 years of shovelling out goodies, I’ve done my bit, and now I go out or hide until it’s over. It was great to take Patsy for a walk around, though, on the perfect crisp, clear night – swarms, hundreds of children, many with parents in saris or headscarves, chattering in Mandarin or Urdu, princesses, ballerinas, vampires, and monsters flooding the streets, and my neighbours, some of them in costume themselves, standing at doors lit by pumpkin flame, handing out the goods. I wondered what a Martian would say if he landed on Carlton Street and saw the scene, hundreds of tiny people in makeup and strange clothes, going door to door for sugar.
Then down the street to Jean-Marc and Richard’s annual Hallowe’en bash, with JM’s homemade pizzas, and as usual, handsome Chuck is some sort of military garb – last year, a sailor all in w hite, this year, an army outfit with a jaunty cap that belonged to his grandfather. The fire was burning and it was warm, welcoming crowd for the visitor from Gabriola.
It’s cold here, now; the reality of the season is settling in, though my God, we’ve had a long run of mild weather, all of October really. The furnace is bustling regularly for the first time, and the impatiens in the boxes outside are finally melting from the frost. Time to get out the mittens. Ah – I hear footsteps. My friend is coming downstairs, and the talking will begin … now.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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