I follow a man, for a while, on my walk. We walk beside the river. He wears a dirty white sweater and some camouflage pants. I watch him stoop down to pick up an empty packet of cigarettes, he tosses it back on the ground and shakes the cold rain from his fingers.
Sitting on the side walk, too close to the gutter, he pulled off his sneaker his bare feet soggy and wrinkled a rock dropped out of his shoe. Mr Jax, opened up the door to his clothing store and handed the man a jacket. The man shook his head and handed it back, he mouthed something about pity. He liked his off white sweater, forgetting that it will get colder, much colder when January comes.
The Christmas party was held in the hotel over looking the river. This hotel was not like the hotel I used to work in, that was old and regal; had personality. This was lacking the ghosts in the halls. My friends and I bought new dresses just for the occasion. The boys smoked packs of cigarettes and passed around baggies of weed out in the front steps.
Lilly ran around in bare feet. We were all forced to eat the same buffet, I found the dry turkey and the roasted pig gross. I didn't want what they gave me, so I tried to give it away, no body wanted it.
At 10:00 the party was nothing but loud music and screaming people trying to communicate. I was past that stage of my life. I did it when I used to work at a hotel, just to get by, so I didn't want to do it tonight.
I walk home along the river.
I pass "White Sweater" going up to an old barn, he has a paper bag with him, like mine, and I wonder if it's full of crackers and smoked oysters. This time he had a dog with him.
That night I dreamed of cold winters and wet feet, I had forgotten to turn the heat up and the night went from plus ten to minus ten within hours. I dreamed of a roof over my head and some food other than crackers and 50 percent off smoked oysters. I woke up at 5:00 with a hang over and a need for fried eggs and cola and maybe some Tylenol.
I drink all the water I can and rearrange my calories to make up for the fried eggs I ate for breakfast. I go for a run to take care of the rest. I wonder when all this running will pay off.
That night I dream that I am climbing up hill climbing looking for love, I know I am looking for love because my body feels empty. I meet the homeless man. He passes me with a news paper in his hand and walks up to houses that have a "for rent" sign on the front.
I walk past him on the corner of the busiest street in town. It's busy but with cars, no one walks in this town and anyone who does has crossed the street to be away from him. I'm not afraid of him, he seems to be everywhere in my life right now synchronicity needs us to be together. I've been told not to give people on the street money, but this one doesn't seem he's going to sell his body for crack if he doesn't get it. His hat looks empty, I throw a toonie in the hat and the dog wags it's tail.
A man comes up behind me in a suit and tie and says, "that's a beautiful dog."
"Do you want him?" asked 'white sweater.' "I feel like I can't look after her any more, and they'd let me in the shelter without her."
He handed the leash forward and said "I need money for her though, I haven't eaten in days." The man pulled out his wallet and asked; "Do you really want to sell your dog?"
"No," said 'White Sweater", "she's the only family I have, she keeps me going, but I'm hungry and she deserves better."
The man reaches into his wallet and said "this is what I would pay for the dog; go and get you and her something to eat."
And a cab stopped and he got in and drove away.
That night they curled up outside the shelter and they kept each other warm. "White Sweater" was so cold that he didn't feel it getting warmer and warmer, until the dog started to bark and shake his sleeve. The shelter burned. A friend let him spend the night at his house but he had to be gone before the news paper arrived. The news paper said no one survived the fire.
There was a boy at the Christmas party I loved with my whole heart, my whole body told me he was my soul mate. I watched as he moved his chair around to face me, when I walked into the room the eye contact he made, the great conversations we had, and letters we wrote, all pointed to a long lasting friendship. Yet I couldn't get any time with just him he wasn't all that into me. I was in my house crying and crying about this love when...
I heard a thump under my veranda, a whimper from a dog and there was "White Sweater," under my sun porch.
I asked him "why are you here?"
He said "it was going to be a cold night."
The dog licked off the peanut butter and jam I had left on my hands from supper.
He asked me, "why are you all alone, why isn't there a friend staying with you?"
I thought about it, I had always been alone I said "I guess I was always afraid that someone would want children or a family. I just wanted to be by myself."
I asked him why he didn't have a home.
He said "I never felt right settling down, couldn't stay in one place too long, I was afraid of not having the best house, of having too much stuff to move again. I just want to be by myself."
There is a river that runs into the ocean tides. And even though there are people and hotels and street corners. All the river wants, is to just be alone.