Gotta stop giving thanks for any little comfort I've got. The moment I do, it disappears. The list is very long. Just the other night I thought how grateful I am to have a doctor who prescribes the pills without which I would go days without the possibility of sleep.
The next day I got a letter from some medical documents company. The doctor retired last month.
Tonight I am glad of something nebulous (that word relates directly to a climatic phenomenon no one can take away): fog.
A thick, wet fog does Toronto the immeasurable favour of cloaking it in unaccustomed romance and mystery. The ugliness is blurred, and familiar streets become veiled and alluring.
Foggy nights used to be a rarity, but a Vancouverish fall has produced several. On the first one, I bundled up in a bathmatty coat and went forth to enjoy the sensation of pretending I was somewhere I've never been.
Fog makes everything dreamy. Construction cranes become resting dinosaurs. Streetlights beckon sailors, and cars are lost ships. It takes a deep night fog to release the imagination that is feared or commodified in this bright, blundering blot on the landscape.
During the fog, I was lucky enough (there I go again) to be invited to supper at a house near the lake. Afterwards, I went home, whipped up a merci card and popped it through the host's mail slot and plunged into the dense atmosphere that was barely penetrated by the tail lights of a phantom truck in front of me.
Tried to attend a place I'd been before, but it was closed. Police pulled up as I did. I went somewhere else. They came, too. This is standard after-midnight procedure for those of us who are treated as suspects because we do not conform to the habits of the downtown influx of big-spending drunks.
Inside the place, I discerned a figure in a baseball cap whose formidable form reminded me of my ex-neighbour, a dangerous storyteller extraordinaire. I went up for a closer look. "Good evening, officer," I said. It was he.
We and his three friends closed the place. When we two got back out into the fog, he urged me to c'mon and we ran like kids down an alley to ditch the others. He led me past garages with pagoda roofs. They looked like temples in the mist. We crossed a big, wet field, and I revelled in being completely lost.
I couldn't have asked for a finer guide. He knows plants and trees and named them as they loomed alongside us. He took me to the boarded-up buildings of the hospital where I was born.
A heavy carved cross perched on the curvy old structure gracefully awaiting its meeting with the wreckers' ball.
As we went up streets I would not know even on a clear night, he told of the mansion where he lives. Well, it used to be a mansion, said to have been designed by the same architect who built Casa Loma.
I locked my bike to a cast iron loop by an abandoned pushcart. We circled the building so I could behold the huge circular spindle-railed balcony. The front door opened into a strange, old, damp smell that made me feel I'd journeyed to some forgotten place in South America.
Against the oak panelling leaned large examples of graffiti art that somehow did not look out of place. I opened an oak bench in a hallway and a stink of fish jumped out. Down the stairs into the basement and deeper dank, I squeezed through his tiny, cluttered room to prop open a window and breathe.
We toasted this waking dream. Then two guys we'd ditched showed up, and the new neighbour who believes he can achieve immortality through self-mortification. The storyteller sang David Bowie's Fame, fame, fame and we laughed.
Dawn was breaking when I saw my bike again. Fresh leaf fall made it look as though days had passed. On the way home, I picked slightly blackened mint, wilting chrysanthemums and spectacular Japanese maple leaves.
Tonight's fog could lift any time and leave me stranded. I don't expect a night like the last one. No two nights are alike. And expecting nothing is the only way anything surprising can ever happen.