So it may be that our Summer of Love is not taking off the way I originally envisioned. It's a bit more like trying to heft a hippo off the ground with a helicopter, and we're still just struggling with the strappy bits. I thought maybe we could to Toronto tomorrow, because I've been wanting to go for ages and just wander along the busy streets and stop in outdoor cafes as we please, the way we did back in Cape Town. But now Sugar D has a bit of a cold and he's not sure he feels up to the Big Smoke. Guess we'll see tomorrow.
This morning Swee'pea woke us up at the ass crack of dawn, as mama tulip would say, and by 8:30 we were ready to get out of the house. Swee'pea has graduated from pointing emphatically at the stroller and his hat when he wants to go out to muscling (or attempting to muscle) the stroller from the front hall into the living room, over backpacks and around shoes and wailing a mournful tune. So we went out and wandered aimlessly around downtown, something I usually do by myself with Swee'pea and my camera but never very successfully because I'm just not good at being aimless. Somehow when I'm with Sugar D, I can do aimless much better.
We had a few ideas for things we'd like to pick up, but none of the stores were open yet so we sat on a bench in the old downtown mall that was 'revitalized' a few years ago with a very expensive renovation. It's supposed to mimic an outdoor pedestrian mall complete with an outdoor-like cafe sporting brightly coloured umbrellas AND a licensed bar as advertised on the side of the 'building's facade.'
We thought the store we needed would open around 9, in just a few minutes, so we sat down to wait. The only other people around, aside from the stores' employees and builders with big rumbly wagons of lumber, were old people, also waiting on benches, though for what I don't know. One old lady struck up a long and involved conversation about Swee'pea's bug bites and her inability to sleep these last two nights for the heat, and her gentle cat who winds himself around her when she feels panicky. I found out what she's waiting for: her seven-year-old grandson's visit tomorrow, which she seems to believe will help her sleep.
We passed an old man I remembered from my tenure at the Black's store that used to be in the mall, back when it was the Eaton's Centre and all 80's dim and virtually no stores that could survive the dearth of customers, the dearth to which that little Black's store eventually succumbed. Even then he was a twinkling old man. Somehow he reminded me of an old jazz or blues musician, quieter in his old age but still with that innate syncopation to his walk, that funky rhythm. We used to ride the same bus downtown, and he would visit the store and chat with whoever was working there. I enjoyed his visits.
I said hello as we passed this morning and I really wanted to take his picture but felt weird somehow, since I felt I knew him. I wracked my brain for his name, because I used to know it, and James kept insisting itself. James not Jimmy. After a while we gave up on the store opening within a reasonable amount of time and left the mall; as we emerged back into the morning sun, it felt just like walking around Cape Town, but with fewer people, less brown skin, and different, less colourful architecture. We had no particular destination or deadline, just a desire to enjoy the sun and the city while Swee'pea settles back in his stroller for a nap.
At the same moment I thought about Cape Town, I remembered a few months back going through one of my boxes of mementos and finding a card scrawled with the name James LaFlame, wondering who the hell that was. I couldn't for the life of me remember a James LaFlame, figuring it must have been a guy I had some passing thing with. But now a vague memory is pushing at me like the start of a headache: I think it was that old man wishing me well, with some funky turn of phrase.* James LaFlame.
Downtown, we saw a poster reminding us that the Multicultural Festival is this weekend and starts today. I remember dancing there when I was eight weeks pregnant, two years after my belly dance instructor danced there heavily heavily pregnant with her fourth child. This afternoon I think we'll head over to check it out; maybe it will give me the colour I'm seeking... maybe the Summer of Love is rolling along after all, in just the way it should for us.
*Sadly, I can't remember exactly what he said in the card, but it smacked of youth. When I couldn't remember who wrote it, I threw it out, figuring that if I couldn't remember who wrote it, there was no point in keeping it. Damn. This always happens. I overcome my packrat tendency only to regret it.