Friday, May 20, 2011

Walking home at night

When I headed out this evening to meet a friend for drinks, the edges of a storm were hovering over the city. Bursts of rain had cooled the air. The sun had set but the sky was still light – although dark clouds were still filling the southern sky.

My friend and I sat on a patio sipping white wine and catching up. It was one of those delicious early summer evenings – cool enough for a sweater, but warm enough to be sitting outside. Perfect for good conversation with a good friend.

I walked home after 11 p.m. It’s not often that I am out this late and I was acutely aware of my surroundings. This neighbourhood is so familiar to me during the day, but I do not often see it at night.

It’s a commercial strip, but with almost a residential feel. Many of the storefronts were dark or dimly lit, the streets were quiet and few people were walking around. In a cafĂ© I could see two people sitting at the bar, talking with the bartender. Other restaurants were closed, chairs set upon the tables and blinds half drawn.

A garbage truck lumbered along the street with a young man dangling off the back. A city bus passed quickly, weightless without passengers. Construction has stalled; a crane poised motionless in the dark sky. A young couple approached the 24-hour grocery store.

The air was fresh, the smell of spring blossoms drifting down from the trees in full bloom; the sidewalk was scattered with petals shaken down by the rain.

When I turned off the main street into the residential area, a rabbit hopped ahead of me along the sidewalk then joined another on a lawn. The storm had passed and when I tipped my head back I could see stars peaking through the parting clouds.

There is something about walking in the evening that both calms and invigorates me. I love the coolness of the night on my skin, the clearness of the night air. I like being alone on streets that are usually busy and bustling. There is a sense of intimacy, of belonging – a relationship carried into secrecy of the night.

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