Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Some Things Never Change

The music may have changed, but there's still music. The hair, the clothing: different, but not so much.

There is still life on the streets. The crowds, the mingling, the laughter. The bravado, the egos, the loud inebriated. Someone revving an engine, another squealing tires, adding burning rubber to the scent of alcohol and food. There's always the stench of urine in the parking-garage stairwells.

Ferraris, Porsches, Mercedes, and BMWs prowl the grid of streets, rolling at slow speeds, the drivers wanting to be seen behind the wheel, wanting to troll the young women in high heels and short skirts.

It is the joy of youth, but its not all joy. Someone starts an argument. Another falls down, drunk, on the sidewalk. Another drunk tries to hit on a woman he doesn't know, who simply had the misfortune of walking past him.

On the peripheral streets, a fight breaks out. Someone pulls a knife. Paramedics are called to the scene. Hookers stand on darkened streets, Johns slow down in their cars to pick up a short-term companion. Police persuade them to move on.

Always, there's perpetual motion. There is very little standing still. It's as endless as time, forever moving.

And yet, in the microcosm of the Byward Market, some things never change. It's a place where you always have to be on your toes, must always be aware of what is happening around you. But it's still a fairly safe place. There is no feeling of threat.

Walking the streets, late at night, as the pubs and night clubs shut down and the crowds fill the streets, there is a sense of community, even though few of the people out and about actually live in this neighbourhood. They were the life blood, the streets the arteries. The heart of the Market was beating strongly on a late Saturday night.

What was missing were the homeless. I saw none of the folks that live on the streets in the Market. Perhaps, on Saturday nights, they move away from the heart, away from the young party goers. Perhaps, on Saturday nights, these parts of the neighbourhood aren't safe for them. Perhaps, on a warm Saturday night, they sought the shelter of the darkened alleys and the parks, or moved out of the neighbourhood altogether. 

That part, I think has changed.

It's been decades since I hung out in the Byward Market in the late hours of the evening, but it's the same old Market. The pulse is still strong. The beat goes on.

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