Archive | August, 2015

I see Hilary

2 Aug

  I see Hilary Clark at the Broken Pencil 20th anniversary party. The party is at the Gladstone. I haven’t seen Hilary for twenty years. Since she went off to New York. I thought she was still in New York. When Hal said she was here at this party, I thought she had come back to Toronto for a visit, maybe. I pictured a hole where Hilary used to be. To me, Hilary Clark was this space left behind in Toronto, like the opening to a portal that led to the big wide world. But no. It turns out she works for TVO now and lives in Toronto. Her and I and Hal worked on Blood and Aphorisms together many years ago. Hilary and I chat for a while. She has a daughter. Seven years old. She had her when she was forty-one years old. “I never intended to have kids,” she says. “But then I thought about you having two kids and still writing all those books and I thought, ‘Well, if he can do it.’…” I give her my business card. She gives me hers. “Look at us,” she says, “all grown up.” I talk to Rachel for a while just before I leave to go home. She tells me Ella is at sleepover camp. It’s the same camp Hal and his brother went to when they were kids. One year, Rachel tells me, Hal came back from camp and when his parents opened his suitcase mice jumped out. I guess they wanted to hitch a ride to the city, Rachel says. She laughs. Last summer Rachel packed a lunch for Ella to eat on the way up to the camp and it was still there in Ella’s suitcase when she came home from camp two weeks later. I ride my bike up Gladstone, through the deserted park. There’s a couple kissing by a tree, and some noisy teenagers saying goodbye to each other, but the crowds of people who were in the park when I rode down at 8:30 are gone now. When I get to Bloor, I go down into the subway and wait. After a while, I feel wind coming up the tunnel, so I know a train is coming. I look down the tunnel and see that there is a light on the wall. And then the train comes around the corner and into the station. It’s pretty crowded on the train. This is bad because I have my bike and it’s hard to find a place to stand where I’m not bumping into people or blocking a door. I switch subway lines at Yonge Street. A lot of people get on at Lawrence. This makes no sense and pisses me off. I check the time. It’s 11:40 p.m. I’m tired. I look at a girl. Then I look at a burly middle aged  man with big headphones clamped over his ears. The man is bopping his head to his music and stamping his foot. Beside him, a guy is falling asleep. His chin is on his chest and he is drooling on his T-shirt. I switch sides on the subway car so I’m not blocking the doors when we get to North York Centre. I look at the same girl I looked at before, but from a different angle. We get to Finch. The girl I’ve been looking at goes by me. She has no bra on under her black top. I go up the stairs carrying my bike. It’s a five minute ride to get from the subway station, across the subway parking lot, to the place where I parked the car this morning.