Navigating Toronto transit in the wee hours of the weekday mornings has always been something I strangely enjoy. This city has such an eclectic assortment of people that I rarely need any additional forms of distraction then to just watch the chaos around me.
The woman across from me on the train is engrossed in her book, as I was just a moment ago before the author shut me in a room with a rather vivid sex scene and I decided I’d rather read it later, when I didn’t have the middle aged man beside me trying to, not-subtly-enough, read over my shoulder. My guess is that she’s at an indulgent part too, and for her there seems a completely contained bubble of isolation. Beside her a tiny Asian woman fiddles in her purse and on her left, a younger man with headphones turned quiet enough that I can’t hear them, tries to look like he isn’t falling asleep. Down the car, two women are talking about cancer and the sad quality of our commercial food and of the mistreatment of workers in China. I find myself nodding lightly as I agree with everything they say and marvel at how they can dredge such lively and intelligent conversation from their gray matter before six on a Friday morning.
As I exit the station, there is a homeless girl lying asleep on the sidewalk in the dim shadows of the shiny bank building. She has only a hoody and jeans and her bare feet are lying on the grate where warm air comes blasting out from the passing of underground trains. Even in sleep, her hand holds a mangled Tim Hortons cup in an upright position in case a hasty passerby miraculously finds the attention or compassion to slow their rush briefly enough to drop in a coin or two. Something about her pose breaks my heart just a little and I want to take a picture of her but know I really shouldn’t. Instead, I tuck the coffee I just bought myself into the hollow by her arm and hope that she doesn’t spill it when she wakes. Then I am quickly swept into the rush as a new crowd exits the station. Like sunrise in reverse, the light creeps down towards us as building windows grab the sun and toss it around.
There is no symbolism in my choice of subject, other then I love the architecture of St. James Cathedral. It feels strangely placed, nestled in the middle of skyscrapers, restaurants and college campus buildings. It has a presence that doesn’t feel like it could be ignored as so many do, rushing by on their way to work.
By lunch, the park around it will be filled with students and business people enjoying the illusion of a little extra solitude and perhaps sub-consciously drawn to the grand old building; and the light that settles on it’s many ambitious surfaces like dust.