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January 22, 2009

SaltSpring Who's Who

I SEE YOU! (This was taken at the Gay Pride Parade last summer but in some strange way I thought his expression fit with this story.)

Today was a good example of how when you live in a small place you have to be so much more on top of your game when it comes to recalling "who's on first" so to speak.

Now, I'm used to living in Vancouver's West End. It's actually way more like a little village than anyone who has never lived there might expect. The difference is that about a million other people come into THAT village so you're not expected to know the name of everyone you've ever interacted with.

There's the guy who makes your Cafe Latte. The transsexual who walks the Beagle dog. The cute waiter at your favorite restaurant that you walked by on the way home from work every day. There's the lady behind the counter in the dollar store. Who cares. They're there. They're doing their thing. It doesn't really matter that you don't know their name. Although in hindsight, it really should have mattered I guess. Why didn't it?

In a small town, it's different. It actually does matter. This morning, I have a 9 am meeting with a woman I interviewed in the summer for an article I wrote. I spent 2hours with her drinking tea and wine on her deck at her home. I've seen her photo attached to the article I wrote. I have a pretty good idea of what she looks like. Or, so I thought. Now, to give myself a break, I wasn't expecting anyone else to walk in to greet me except her, which given where I now live and how many people I meet is pretty, umm, short-sighted.

So, I'm waiting in Barb's Buns, a nice coffee shop/bakery/restaurant sitting there eating my incredibly low fat (sarcasm) Capuccino chocolate chip muffin and another woman walks in, looks at me, smiles at me, comes up to my table and says
"Hi Gayle." I stand up and say to her, "Wow I didn't recognize you!" I am about to give her a hug and then she looks at me and says, I'm (insert female name). No wonder I didn't recognize her, it's not her. It's not the one I was waiting for. No wonder she doesn't look like her. My mind wasn't playing tricks. I was right. It ISN'T HER!

It's one of the ones I had a drink with on Saturday night; an unlikely occurrence given that one of those ones was a man from the other small town I once lived in that also starts with an "S" and who for the love of God got here two years before me and knows way too much about me.

It's like this man knows as much about me as the FBI would know about someone in the Witness Protection Program. No, I'm not going to explain. I like this man, he's nice, but every time I see him he reminds me (through association) of the situation I am referring to but not detailing way back then. For God's Sake! If there are no coincidences what the hell does it mean that he and I now live in the same place?

Meanwhile, back at Barb's Buns I say, "Oh, no wonder you don't look like her, you're not her," I say while I"m certain she must think I'm in the early stages of dementia.

Finally, the real one I'm waiting for walks in and yes, I did recognize her. She does look like herself and not like the one who walked in previously and exactly like I recalled that she did look like before I was confused by the decoy.

I sit down and begin talking to the one I was waiting for at which point someone taps me on my shoulder and says Gayle? I turn around. It's a woman from my band. She says,"I thought that was your voice.
"Hi (insert woman's name), I say. I go back to my interview knowing that she's probably listening to my every word given that she's 5 inches behind me.

Later, I'm back at the same place. Another woman smiles at me. I'm certain I've met her. Can't recall where that might have been. Was it in Vancouver? I smile back and say Hi. I then have to ask her where I've met her before. This is kind of embarrassing given that it turns out, I spent about four hours with her and her boyfriend who is also sitting right in front of me. I met them at my neighbour's house. We had dinner. We even played charades. This was right before Christmas. Yes, this past Christmas, not the Christmas from 1972. How could I not recognize them? Wrong context? Yes, that's it. That's my excuse. Feeble but I'm stickin' to it.

Then, there's the cashier. I know I helped her with her resume in the employment center. She must have got a job here. I need to know her name so we can cross her off our list. What WAS her name? Just ask her name. I have to ask her name.

Then, there's the people who come into the employment center where I'm working part-time. When I meet them in public, they act like they've never seen me before in their lives. To them, I'm that lazy-ass, authoritarian, good for nothing government worker (even though I'm not any of the preceding) who hasn't got them a job. It doesn't matter that I see them every day in the center, some of them just won't acknowledge me on the street. I'd like to not acknowledge them when they're sitting in front of my desk sighing and whining and I can't leave but that wouldn't be very nice now would it.

My co-worker gives me advice. When you're on the street, only acknowledge them if they acknowledge you she says. "Make eye contact. If they don't, just walk by." Oh. Boundaries. I should know about that I think to myself, thinking about the man who knows almost everything about me and the reason why!

It's hard to keep all this straight. Did I interview you? Did I write a story about you? Did I take your photo? Did I help you with your resume? Did I meet you through a friend? Were you at the Legion on Remembrance Day? Are you in my band? Are you a friend of a friend? Were you sitting beside me at ArtSpring. MY GOD! It's like being back in a high school except this one has 10,000 students. Where's the yearbook I think to myself. Oh ya, it's called The Driftwood. It comes out weekly, not annually.

You go to a concert and you have the high school principal in front of you the grandparents beside you, Raffi in the front row, Robert Bateman second row, the guy who towed your car out of the ditch sitting behind you. I refuse to ever have a prescription filled here or see a doctor (which isn't hard since you can't see a doctor, they aren't taking patients!).

If you had sex with just one person here and if you didn't marry him and stay with him til death do you part, you'd surely have to pack up and leave immediately upon breaking up given the one degree of separation. Kevin Bacon? Mere amateur.

I think the lady at the concert beside me tonight said it best. "I like to sit at the back," she says "because that way I get to see who the couples are; the new couples that is. Who's with who! It changes all the time," she says in a way that seemed to contain too much delight and kind of made me squirm even though I am not part of a couple. I'm just me, in a fantastic monogamous life-long relationship with myself!

Am I in training to become the most discrete person in the world (which, for the record, I am not!) Maybe I am in training to never speak of another human being except in only the most glowing of terms (which I do not always do just for the record!)

Let's just say that for years now I knew that somewhere along the line I would discover that my nun-like existence would be a benefit to me somewhere outside a convent afterall! And, I think I've found out where!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

love the commentary here on life in a small village.... you are having some delightful moments, and a few mistaken identify moments.

keep enjoying the wonders of island life.

miss you Lisa