I was walking in the rain.
It was one of those days where it relentlessly poured all day. It was also one of those days that dragged me all around town, from an audition to work to rehearsal. A lovely day of being completely worn out doing things that you love to do. I find that when I am working in a creative way that I far more enjoy working in a don’t-bounce-the-rent-cheque way. A good, long day.
I left my rehearsal and found myself at the familiar corner of Bloor and Bathurst. After racing around all day, I was left with nothing to do. I crossed the street at the light. And just kept crossing. North, West, South, then East, ending up right where I started, wondering which way to wander.
The battery in my phone was dying and I was meeting up with my superbud Emily later. That provided some purpose. A few hours to kill, but some purpose.
Get thee to a place with an IPhone charger. Do not go home. Stay out. Go out, rather. Go on.
The Vic. The Victory Cafe, my old watering hole when I lived a few blocks away in the Annex House that I shared with Jane, Dennis, Sarah and the downstairs neighbour CSIS and his Latina Lover.
Go on. Go there.
As I waited for the light to change, settled on the Southeast corner, a young man sidled up beside me. He was hiding under an umbrella and stopped himself just as he was about to speak. I nodded at him to continue.
“Do you know how far away Ossington is?”, he said.
I sure did.
“Where are you going?”, I asked.
“Just Ossington. I don’t really know.”
There was a moment where I could ask more. I didn’t.
“A 15 or 20 minute walk, I guess. But the subway is right there. That would take no time and get you right there. It is raining. But it’s also kinda nice out, warm, you know? I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d do if I were you. I’d probably take the subway. Yes, that’s what I’d do.”
He was perplexed by my rambling answer, I think, and argued effectively.
“I don’t think Torontonians like to walk.”
And with that, we did. Walk. We started slowly walking westward across the street.
We talked about walking. We talked about Toronto. We talked about Americans, because he is one. We talked about why he wanted to go to Ossington if he didn’t know where he was going.
“My friends told me to go there. For the bars and stuff.” he said.
“Okay, now I know where you’re going. You need to get to Dundas. You should take the subway, then the bus.”
“I’d like to take the streetcar.”
I started to explain, but we were at Markham. This was my stop. This was where I was to get off this ride, to go to the Vic, to charge my phone, to carry out my wandering plans.
I didn’t. We kept walking.
“Do you have paper? I will draw you a map.”
The pouring rain drove a little harder, almost mocking my silly suggestion to draw this man a map while being pelted with aimless rain.
We stopped and checked our bags. No pen.
“Would you like to go for a drink?” said I.
I had taken him by surprise. I had kind of taken myself by surprise.
“I don’t want to sound odd, ” I continued, “but I was going to charge my phone and have a glass of wine, somewhere, wherever. And I am going to do that regardless so I’d might as well invite you and I can draw you a map and you can go on your way.”
“I should probably just keep going,” he answered, obviously a little freaked out by the offer.
We kept walking. I explained that I was leading him to Christie Station, and what he needed to do to get to Dundas, to my neighbourhood, and where to go first, and second, and third.
We walked towards Pour Boy, a sweet little bar that I would visit with my buddy Luke when he lived up the street from it. I decided to go there. It was time to go.
“This is my stop,” I said. “Good Luck.” I reached out my hand for a parting shake.
“Can we still grab that drink?” he said, a slight apology in his voice. “I could probably use that drink. And that map.”
And off we went.
We sat for an hour and had a drink. We talked about acting, and travelling, and passports, and airports, and Pakistan truck art (cause that’s what he’s into), and Days of our Lives (cause that’s what I’m into) and Newfoundland, and what it means when two strangers sit at a bar and talk about all those things.
I drew him a map.
He invited me to join him, but I declined. We had enjoyed a nice time, and I knew that it was done. We had our time. We paid the bill and shared a hug and parted ways. I now have a friend in Washington that owes me a beer and a map.
I know it sounds crazy and dangerous and odd, but it felt right. And necessary. And wonderful.
This is an amazing life.