A strange day – heavy, muggy, rain on and off. A few minutes ago, I was sitting as usual by the back door when there was a rustling in the bushes on the north side of my property – I thought perhaps a giant raccoon, not abed yet. A young man with a shaved head, naked except for a kind of loincloth made from a garbage bag, stepped out from my plants and walked across my grass to the gate. “Excuse me!” was all I could think, stupidly, to say to this apparition only a few metres away.
“Sorry,” he said. “No one will help me.” And he was gone.
Did he come in earlier and hide there? It’s been pouring all day. Did he climb over my neighbour’s fence? Did he use the bushes as a toilet? How can someone dressed only in a diaper made from a garbage bag walk around downtown Toronto all day? My heart hurts for him, for the many many lost and damaged souls we city dwellers encounter every day.
My heart no longer hurts, though, for Bill, the nearly toothless long-haired once-homeless guy who makes a living in the ‘hood washing windows and doing odd jobs. He makes good steady money from me, and came the other day to do a clean up in the yard, raking and sweeping. Eli was here and rushed out to work with Bill, following him around, jabbering non-stop; it was a wonderful sight, and I think gave Bill, too, a gift – the trust and friendship of a small boy. It’s hard to understand a word Bill says, but that didn’t bother a 3-year old. Later, after he’d gone and Eli and I discovered that I couldn’t get the TV to work, he said, “Glamma, call Bill. Bill will know.”
Somehow, I doubt that Bill could advise me on the intricacies of Roger’s cable. But Eli has faith.
Last night, after drinks on the deck with neighbours Rob and Alex, who brought a bottle of Veuve Cliquot to celebrate their recent wedding and my birthday, Jean-Marc and Richard and I rode our bikes to Harbourfront. I’ve wanted for ages to go to Dance on the Pier, which runs every Thursday through the summer, a big band or a Latin band playing outside and people dancing. It was wonderful; we chacha’d and salsa’d and shimmied. There were huge white tents down there, all kinds of music and activities in what is now called Ontario Square, which used to be a parking lot. Sometimes government gets it so very very right. On the way home, we stopped in the Distillery to get ice cream. Mine was lemon meringue.
Went this morning to a dermatologist to get my 65-year old skin checked out – all those moles and skin tags and age spots, but so far, nothing dangerous. I asked about sun – that I want to get vitamin D with a certain amount of sun exposure – and he told me that any sun increases effects of aging and risk of skin cancer, that it’s better to get D from supplements and food and to always use sunscreen. That I did not know. I am brown now because I rarely bother to use it. Mistake.
My heart is still pounding from my encounter in the garden. I hope someone helps him.