Monday, December 16, 2013

Downtown People.

 I grew up pretty inner-city, and have always had places that just barely touched the downtown core in Calgary, save for a single, torturous four-month-long stint in the suburbs (which, BTW, fucking sucked, you guys). This, however, is the first time I am living in the very middle of downtown. People used to mistake my places as 'downtown', but I'm learning a lot about how much different a residential neighbourhood and a metropolitan neighbourhood can be.

Sometimes, the streets down here get so busy, and other times, you feel like you are the only one wandering the weathered cement. There is always a cab less than half a block from my house, just sitting and waiting. My building is basically a commune. My next-door neighbours leave our doors open during the day, and Reggie and Tina wander in and out of their apartments. We barter things for wine. I am BFFs with the 2-and-a-half year old upstairs.

My favorite part about being down here is the people. The population around my place is 30% hipster, 40% New Canadian, 20% rich folks, and 10% hippie. I'm not sure where I fit into these demographics yet, but I am positive I belong among them. It seems like there might be a lot of crime and drugs around my apartment (as judging by the needle bin directly in front of my place), but I feel like everyone takes care of each other down here. I have yet to feel unsafe.

As an avid people-watcher, there are the finest specimens in town around my place. There's a guy I like to call 'Pizza Everyday', who, like clockwork, gets a pizza from the shop two doors down from my house at 6:30PM each evening. He's not a big dude, where does he put it all? There's this homeless guy that lives in front of a heat vent. Everyone seems cool with this, and I applaud him for his innovation. There's this bizarre earthy lady named Heather that dog-sits for the "nancy boys" (her words) a few doors down. We walk dogs together sometimes, and I listen to her babble about things that I don't really care that much about, like holistic medicine and yoga. There's a building with a 24-hour-a-day doorman half a block down the street. A lot of people with fancy cars and fur coats live there. The only dry cleaner within walking distance will get your clothes clean, but they will also perpetually reek of Pine Sol, and the owner won't let you leave for at least half an hour when you pick your shit up because she is, very obviously, lonely. There's the two kids that smoke joints in their Tercel about the same time every night, and are perpetually listening to Ready To Die. Sometimes I rap a verse or two when I walk by. We might become friends, I haven't decided yet. There's even weird people that I have never, ever seen, but I know exist, like the person that drops a cigarette with a small piece of paper towel wrapped around the filter in the same spot every day. I'm assuming it's a smell thing, but who knows? These downtown people are crafty.

Since I have lived down here, my new downtown friends all share the same sentiment. They tell me that I'm lucky to work outside of downtown, because it's so easy to hole away in this tiny corner of the city. I know this little five-block radius is not the be all and end all of Calgary, but I'm really in the honeymoon phase with this neighbourhood right now, and I can go for drinks within a block of my house in all directions, and stop for groceries, at either Safeway or one of the thousand sketchy corner stores, on the way home.
All I know is that I felt perfectly at home the day I moved down here, and I feel fortunate to have finally found, what is seemingly, my spot in the world.

~sarah p.

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