Today I spent the afternoon in the park, reading, people watching, counting marathon runners go by. Summers are always good in Ottawa, but today was the first time I’ve considered it could be home.
No coincidence these thoughts coming once the snow is gone, and particularly while I’m in the park. I could see the Hill over my left shoulder, open and accessible by foot, the national art gallery in front of me, boasting displays of Renoir, modernist photographs and the Governor General’s (our first black, female head of state!) picks. And to my right the steel and concrete gated façade of the American Embassy, an architectural statement of everything our country is not.
Then a random man approached me. I guess during the winter he’d seen me reading at Chapters every week. He wanted to know if I’d like to join him this evening at a church concert. It seems my sister might have taken me to his congregation once when she was in town, cuz he thought he'd also spotted me in a pew.
He came across as courteous and respectful, but also possibly trying to flirt. Alas, I’m not born again, nor interested, so I didn’t take the bait.
Still, between the sun on my face, the political theory in my lap, the national icons in the distance, and the friendly courage of this man, I left at sundown with a renewed faith in the potential of the city, and good feelings about how great the country is overall.
It was like listening first to “people of the world unite/strength in numbers we can get it right/one time”, then skipping tracks to “as I was walkin’ by/saw you standin’ there with a smile.”
Looks like my girl Janet knew what she was talking about. (you might think i’m crazy but I’m serious. it’s better you know now.)