Sunday, June 03, 2012

So Yesterday

Yesterday I went to a Grease sing-a-long at the TIFF Lightbox and then to a book launch at Bakka Phoenix and was off on the Danforth waiting to meet up with people to see Cold Specks open for a band that should've been opening for her, because she amazing and had another half of her album that I wanted to hear live. The headliner was... not as good.

She performed unplugged—just her and a guitar (sometimes electric, sometimes acoustic) and it was glorious. Admittedly, her lyrics are beautiful in the way a funeral hymn can be beautiful, but it was good for the soul. At one point, the last song, she stepped away from the mic and hit the back of the Music Hall with nothing but her voice. No amplification needed. But we had to sit behind people who seemed to think they were in their living room and could therefore talk and get up whenever they wanted. It was rude.

Our trio was already on edge, tense and upset about people doing senseless things because the lead up to the show was the Twitter coverage of what was happening at the Eaton Centre. There is no why that will make what happened yesterday make sense to me. There is this slow, deep-set emotion about the shooting that wants to be anger, if it could find its way out of confusion. But it's too weary, too over-taxed by all the incomprehensible chaos of face-eating people and feet in the mail and tornadoes and subway stations flooding.

We walked from the Music Hall, over the Bloor Viaduct, and we stopped in the middle of the bridge and my friend told me the city put up the metal not-quite-a-fence to keep people from jumping off. Along the pedestrian part of the bridge there are little built-in observation places for people to pause and look out over the Don Valley. It's a river of green space and highway, and at night it's beautiful with the CN Tower peeking through buildings to keep an eye on the part of the city that doesn't belong to downtown.

As we kept moving west, I thought about Los Angeles and Toronto and viaducts where rivers aren't really rivers. I'd almost settled on why this meant something to me when we passed another observation spot. Dead in the middle of this one was an antique dinning room chair. Wooden, low back. Sitting there. We both stopped and looked at it.

It was the most unsettling thing I've seen in this city. I couldn't stop staring at it, and I felt the need to touch it, but some self-preservation instinct told me not to. But it was like I needed to touch it, to prove that it was there, because it's being there was so deeply unsettling.

And I don't know why. Maybe it was the day, and this chair where it didn't really belong was a bit of chaos that felt reversible. Like we could pick it up and move it somewhere more suitable. My friend said no, that's not why it bothered her and she doesn't get bothered by things being out of place.

Finally, she got me to walk on by saying it was a ghost story that we didn't want any part of. And it is a ghost story, it's haunting. A chair to sit and watch the traffic pass over a bridge, with the subway rattling beneath your feet between the bridge and the long drop to a river of greenspace and concrete.