Finding Kelowna  

On the street

It is hot downtown. And with camcorder on tripod I search for a homeless person to interview. I am waiting for the traffic light at Water and Bernard, ready to end my search when a grey-haired woman glides in beside me and asks, “D’you have a twonie you can give me?”

Her puffy face looks tired, and she is beyond the careful attention that women with money often give to their appearance. Standing there in a grey melody of wrinkled cloth, her eyes seem to ask me again, “D’you have a twonie you can give me?”

“How about I buy you a meal,” I reply, sharing information about my project. “Sure,” she says to both. So I motion to a spot around the corner, set up my camera and begin.

Terse, monosyllabic answers punctuate the interview. And when questions about her life on the street are asked, she says, “Can you just take the picture!” She is hungry, and intimidated by the camera. So I cease recording, and invite her to a restaurant nearby.

While she waits for a sandwich she sips Coca Cola, and looks at me with a tight little grin. “I caught’m cheat’n on me…” she says, her lips now stretching like elastic bands “…after thirty years of marriage.” I respond by listening – now understanding her reluctance on the corner.

“I fell into it…being on the street. I was afraid he was gonna hurt me, so I left.” I continue to listen – to the lines on her face, to the sheen of unwashed skin, to her ceiling glances where she replays bitter memories. “But I’m going back,” she adds. “I’m not afraid anymore. And I’m going to get some of my money back.” I sense that she is finished with the interview, so I do not press for more information. I wish her well, and make my way home where I consider what has transpired.

Wrapped in the comfort of a coke and sandwich she has kept our bargain, on her terms; teaching me that the street is within you. While she fishes for twonies, we in our cozy homes wander the avenues and alleyways of our own making, sometimes unexpectedly taking this or that exit onto Kelowna streets beside her.

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About the Author

Giovanni is a poet, columnist, interviewer and photographer. His passion for literature and the writing arts began at three years of age when his mother read to him the poems of Giovanni Pascoli.

Finding Kelowna, as he explains it in his website of the same name, is a focus on the ordinary events, people and things that often go unnoticed. Its purpose is to reveal the startling brilliance of everyday life which may be beautiful, tragic or bizarre. Giovanni does this in a creative way that spotlights the sudden encounters, poignant moments and unusual circumstances that pepper daily life.

Through chance conversations and unexpected occurrences, the tone and character of Kelowna and its surroundings is explored. In so doing, Giovanni hopes that the reader will catch a glimpse of himself and of humanity in all its glorious imperfection.

To comment on his columns you may write to him at [email protected]. You may read other articles he has written by viewing his website at www.findingkelowna.com.  You may view his photography blog at www.gioklik.com, and read his poems, stories and perspectives at www.yzed.wordpress.com.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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