October 1st, 2003

Baby and me

Peace and Love at the Poi or, How Young Geoffrey Walked Out On a Beautiful Woman

Cold. Though it was still September, it felt like the end of October; dry, chill gusts of wind felt almost as if they were being chased by snow.

I stood in the centre of the Trinity-Bellwoods' Park bowl, a deep, nearly-round pit near the north end of the big park, surrounded on 3 sides by steep, grassy walls. On my left throbbed the incessant, subtly varying rhythm of a dozen drums. Before me, a half-dozen women twirled in the dim city-dark; reds, oranges, greens, blues and whites, swirling 'round them like tiny, leashed dragons, tame fire.

Mashka was among them, standing almost still, a study in concentration, deeply engaged in the physical pleasure of mastering and extending a new skill. Her glow-sticks made glowing circles, ovals, figure-eights, now spinning at her sides, now over her head, now coming together in complicated interlocking patterns, like brilliant, compact aurora borealises.

I watched her with a certain pleasure - she is a beautiful woman, compact and strong, with a self-confident grace that suggests someone fully at home in her body, happy to live within it and secure enough not to bother putting it on display.

Nevertheless, I was starting to shiver. My long, black leather trench-coat was not up to the job of keeping me warm while I stood still - pity I didn't find it within myself to merge with the throb of the drums - and I was growing board watching the spinners.

So, I thought, this is a poi - mostly young, almost entirely white, a more or less spontaneous gathering of drummers, spinners and a half-dozen stilt-walkers, along with a larger number of people just hanging out.

As befits a gathering that seemed so hippy-like, hugs were as common as the dogs that ran and sometimes barked, leash-free, revelling in the freedom, the new people, the lights.

I vaguelly regretted that I have never learned to enjoy crowds - I prefer one on one encounters, where words count for more than anything else - but shrugged my mental shoulders: being part of a tribe has never been in my nature.

Mashka approached me, asked if I wanted to use her glow-sticks. "I'm going to play with fire," she said.

I declined the glow-sticks. "I'm going to pack it in," I said. "I'm getting cold and this isn't really my cup of tea."

"I'm sorry," she said, and asked if I'd stick around for a cigarette at least. We chatted a bit, talked tennis and hockey and the weather, and Mashka made it clear that she was sorry I wasn't enjoying myself and that she was and wanted to stick around - we closed with a quick hug and a promise to keep in touch. Which I intend to do; she's a smart, funny and very interesting girl, despite the fact not all of our interests are compatible.

Just before I walked off into the night, I also gave her my livejournal username, despite the fact I knew I would be writing about meeting her. (Jesus, this is a weird medium!) So, er, if you're reading this: Hi Mashka!

* * *

I work nights right now, so a social life is somewhat problematic for me.

I arrived home at my usual time Tuesday morning, a little before 8:30. Played with, then fed, the cat, smoked a bowl and settled in with a light "supper" and the morning Globe and Mail. By 10:00 o'clock I was in bed and re-aquainting myself with the Sandman.

I awoke before my alarm made me do so - yet another day with less than 6 hours of sleep. Chet cappered about in excitement, wanting to fight. I petted him but avoided his teeth; he plays fairly gently, but sometimes forgets himself and I wasn't in the mood to be punctured.

I'd intended to work out before getting moving, but instead found myself curled up in bed again, hoping to catch another 45 minutes of sleep while Richardson's Roundup droned on in the background.

No dice, though, and I finally gave up and hauled myself out of bed and into my (newly-cleaned!) tub for a shower. When I emerged there was a message waiting for me on my phone - yes, the number was Mashka's. Fearing a cancellation, I was pleased to learn she had called because she was going to be a little late. Which was fine by me, all things considered.

I got dressed leisurely and headed out, taking the streetcar instead of my bike for a change - I'd forgotten how much slower it is to take public transit. Found a seat at the Tequilla Bookworm (a charming pub I have somehow never before entered, except on stumbling, late-night browsing expeditions when I would have been better off in bed) ordered a coffee and settled in to wait for Mashka's arrival.

She arrived while I was outside smoking a cigarette, a slender, compact woman wearing Docs, cargo pants and a hooded shirt beneath a green jacket. She saw me and grinned and we entered together, making our way to the smoking section in back.

Going on a date only a couple of hours after waking up is an odd feeling - I fear I wasn't at my best. Mashka did most of the talking, telling me something of her life in Russia and her adventures travelling to a quite remarkable number of places. We almost immediately started talking religion and philosophy, which I enjoyed but for which I felt a little unprepared (remember: it was morning for me).

Also strange for me, was having coffee, not beer, on a date. I was starting to contemplate ordering one but the service at the Tequilla Bookworm is far from in your face; by the time I was ready, it was time to head off for the poi. And so we paid up and walked down Queen Street, stopping for a slice of pizza (ah! sweet breakfast!) at Amato's, then making our way to the park.

Which seems as good a place as any to end this over-long, probably rather pointless, entry.