By Bug Cru
There is an old apartment building by the train tracks, so close they almost touch. The street hangs off of a main road, in a gentle sort of timelessness so close to the city hell they almost touch. Here it hides in plain sight, with a peeling mint green coat and dark wooden porches that lean like crossed legs. The ex building manager tells me he's lived here for twenty years, and I'm the first to call him about it in ten.
I've developed this habit of listening as I move through the city hell, for whispers. Old buildings and little houses that are secretly affordable, sitting in the shadows where the city hell hasn't reached. They tell me about futures that are possible, growing in the cracks. I know they are there. Despite the fact that all bets are off as the slow grind pushes rents up, and us out.
Sometimes I like to get shiny scratchers from the sevvy with names like Rose Gold Riches, Juicy Jewels and Spicy Hot. I know the odds are against me and I am welcoming my own exploitation.
But if not a dollar over the fiver I spent back, those cards are little bookmarks for radical possibilities. And I like to think that dreaming is the medicine for hopelessness. That maybe everytime we entertain a choice or take a step that several possibilities are born. And like living things the ones we won't follow carry on without us. Creation is unstoppable and constant.
So I hope that that old building might like to listen too, when I tell it stories back, about the futures that are possible, growing in the cracks:
The ex building manager tells me all about you. How you were built here when the skytrain tracks were railroad tracks and the year was 1901. How you came up in the shape of eight, big, single, wide windowed, high ceilinged apartments that initially housed CN workers who worked on those tracks. He tells me how you are still affordable and when people live there they stay there forever. And I am completely enamoured with visions of what is possible when your home stands still.
When it's not chased out by rennovictions and interpersonal abuse; so often in identity crisis, changing form to adapt and sometimes disappearing completely.
He tells me he honestly and sincerely wishes me luck.
I think about you often, how the people who stay with you might have come to you through whisper networks of friends of friends, or word of mouth.
What the stability of their relationships with you provide and how it in turn nourishes you.
You are old and tired and your age is like a well loved teddy bear.
I think about what you or someone like you could do for me and I imagine who I hope to be.
I would decorate you beautifully. With lamplight yellow walls, and string lights to wear like jewellery. Plants that curl and reach to intertwine with you, off a porch where my cat friend could watch quietly. Feeling safe as she sits with them watching trains roll by and the city hell breathe.
Where friends, family and lovers would learn to know you well.
And I'd hang pictures, paintings and memories.
I'd like to be the kind of older person who can offer my stability as a tool to my communities.
I'd be in a place to take care of my siblings. With open offers to them of warmth, food and somewhere to come back too. I remember how hard it is to be a teenager.
I'd like to build relationships with them. I'd like to write, draw and tattoo. Build powerful relationships that grow with age the way you do.
We could have books and lots of VHS tapes. Pots and pans with little mushrooms on them. A bed with fluffy linens and always low playing radio. I would be so good to you. I'd cook enough to feed everyone and anyone.
I know that healing isn't linear but I'd like to arrive at a place where I can dedicate my time to helping people figure out what that means for them. And how to understand that while trauma is pain that it makes you magic too.
That same magic is how I know to listen for futures that are possible, growing in the cracks. The whispers coming from the shadows where the city hell hasn't reached.