Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Night Bus

Like many good Greek boys in North America I lived with my parents way longer than my barbarian friends. This meant that by the time I got home from a road trip to the west coast as an eighteen year old, the home I got back to was new. My family moved to a deeper suburb, further away from downtown. Now, if I needed to go out or attend class I'd have to give myself an hour and a half for the bus and metro ride. I started crashing over at friends a lot.
    Buses came every half hour. Pacing at bus stops became normal. I always carried a folded piece of paper in my jacket pocket to scribble down cool band names I though of or some lyric I made up. I also would find things on the dusty streets and collect the ground scores in my jacket pockets. Right pocket for wood and metal, left for plastics. On the bus I entertained myself with a pocket book and often, with markers. I'd crouch low and decorate the back of the seat in front of me with vivid symbols. I got to carrying more than one colour and often drew elaborate doodles on the 215. None of this was ever documented of course, documentation was to become de rigueur with street art later on.
    Eyes in triangles, the word EVOLVE underneath, random Discordian in-jokes, prophetic mutterings. My first 'tag' was an eight fold path and the word, again in all caps, REPENT. I mostly stuck to discrete spaces for these communiques. Bathroom stalls, buses and metros, campus. I even scratched some triangles around town and left the occasional sticker. Some surfaces acted as message boards where other freaks would leave their ravings. This was just before the ubiquitous name tag came and covered Montreal. With that particular street style I feel that lone and unique voices were crowded out from public spaces. Signal to noise ratio went in favour of noise. It was the era of the copy cat.
    I was able to cover a bit of ground because of my heavy and constant commute and because of the floors and couches I would crash on instead of making it home after a party. I would find myself in different hoods, ill rested hung over and with a marker in my pocket.
    Quiet suburban streets at four in the morning were perfect for practising walking with eyes closed, for singing and chanting.
    I moved out at twenty seven, having spent too long in the West Island and too long catching night buses and too long waiting and pacing and nodding off on my ride. Finally another late bloomer and curiously not a Greek became my room-mate. We would often head home together back to the burbs, him a driver and me a willing, begging passenger. On these drives we would plan what would become our eventual escape. We made it out, together, to a decent apartment on Ave. du Parc in 1995, just a few doors down where his relations used to live a generation ago. "There? You moved there? We worked so hard to get out of that neighbourhood!"