Just hanging on a hot day…

Two dishevelled young men – probably in their early twenties – corralled on a sidewalk bench next to the Metro grocery store with their meagre belongings and water bottles on the ground next to them. And an upturned hat for donations. One of the fellows sang and played his guitar. He sang songs I didn’t recognize as though the compositions were original. Clipped to a music rack were several pages of paper about 8½” x 11” that fluttered in the breeze and which he occasionally adjusted. The lyrics were predominantly dreary and remorseful, reminding me of Bob Dylan, whinny and wistful words. The  bearded singer stopped to smoke a cigarette or something which he appeared to have rolled himself. His melodic words included, “use my arms to fly higher” and repetitive verses proclaiming “his space and his place”. His teeth were remarkably white and photogenic. His companion appeared agreeably agitated by the music and jumped about, swinging his arms to the music, proffering personal exchanges which were often humorous to the two. He as well had a beard plus a huge mass of curly reddish hair on his head. They both wore long pants on this exceedingly hot day but the singer had partially rolled up the bottoms of his trousers.  When singing he crossed his legs and looked quite relaxed seated in the shade of the overhanging roof of the grocery store.

I sat in my car in the immediate parking lot, watching them. And listening.  At times trying to discern what exactly they were saying to one another in interludes but without success. This unpredicted musical performance was to me an outing, an artistic adventure that I have longed for. The confinement of theatres dissuades me; and as a passable alternative I opt instead for whatever we manage to unfold by intention or fortuity from the Apple Music collection (aided naturally by my Bose headphones). But today’s live show was more than worth the price of admission.  I had wanted to give them something in payment. But sadly for me I didn’t achieve that desired level of beneficence. Being seated a short distance from the two street rovers was just enough to secrete both me and my magnanimity.

Curiously in spite of the obvious austerity of the two boys, they seemed to be having a grand time together. For whatever reason they were a team. The uncommon heat and southerly wind gusts added the relieving element of a balmy summer day to their preoccupation. I hesitate to predict where they will end up, either tonight or in the future; but for the moment they were the picture of conviviality and happiness.

I have heard stories of street dwellers before. From people who have lived it. Amazingly the person from whom I heard the stories is now a graduate of Carleton University.  She shared her account on CBC as well. She is an exceptional example of possibility. Yet another reminder that life has no prescription. We follow our own path howsoever tortuous or benign it may be.