August 11, 2009 by Allen George
There are times when I walk down Yonge St. on a Friday or Saturday night and realize that I am not all there. Maybe it’s the oily shadows that threaten the edge of every neon light and the people that disappear, then reappear, and disappear again into them. Or maybe it’s the half-concealed faces and silhouettes that mill behind windows or the Doberman that lopes silent and unleashed from darkness to darkness. Whatever it is it does not matter, because this cannot be real.
When I move down the street my ears have the rush and roar of cars and the voices of a thousand people and the million other noises of the city but I can only hear myself breathing. I prefer this to the times when I am full of thoughts. Full of ways to solve the problems at the office and the errands to run and the emails to answer and the negatives to scan and the . . . Those times – I know what I am, and I know that I am separate. But on the nights when I walk down that street and I think that I am not all there, there is simply less of my self and a lot more of everything else. I notice: the men in the doorways with their poise all confidence and ease and the girls in their tight, tight skirts and skinny stilettos. And I am sad. They are experiencing life so much more than I am and living it more viscerally than I am. I know this – but I cannot change it.
It’s like those days I catch the last train back and get off at the ____ station. The sun is low in the horizon and the moon is not yet out. The tracks stretch like liquid light long into the distance and are straight, impossibly straight. As the train rages away I think it is not a train because no train can be so straight and true. And I think that this cannot be real and that I have seen this all before but in a very different time and in a very different way.