The buskers are friendly. At least to me, they are. It’s like they can tell that I too am a poor artist, or maybe they’re taking pity on me because I’m new to the city. Carts and lean-to’s are set up all along the curved dais of the inner harbor. The shape mimicks the ocean’s mouth, which is right there. It’s finally reachable. I am hardpressed not to dip my toes in and let the cold sea leak over this sandaled foot. I know there is a poem in there somewhere, but I’m too exposed to write it out.
I have to keep a certain semblance of composure. I’ve been waiting so long to get to this place, I can’t screw it up by diving into unknown waters. All of the people back home are watching. Through the emails and the five-minute phone calls before work at the hotel. They try not to sound disappointed when I tell them I found a housekeeping job. They want to hear that I am writing poetry in swanky coffee shops and finding publishers in this city of art. They want to know that their support has gone towards a justifiable cause. But a girl has got to pay the rent right?
The writing will come. How can it not, in a place like this? A gaggle of tourist mopheads scoots by on a bridge above my head, they are beeping their little horns. Proud of their tiny gang. Excursion boats and smaller water taxis are ferrying people to and fro around the water’s edge. I’d love to go on one of those boats someday. I wonder how much they cost?
A man selling caricature drawing from a shanty behind me, calls out, “Hey Miss, you look like you’re lost. You doing okay?”
I blush because he is young and sort of cute. I tell him I’m fine, just taking in the sights.
“It’s a lot to take in,” he smiles and picks at something in his tooth, “One of the most beautiful cities in Canada. I can tell you that much.” He has such gusto in his voice. I dig into my oversized bag to see how much cash I have. It strikes me that I need to get a caricature done of myself, marking the beginning of my new life.
“What do you do?” He asks, then adds, “You know, for a living?”
I think about the hotel. Eight hours a day of scrubbing toilets and cleaning pubic hair out of clogged shower drains. Knocking on doors which are late checking out and explaining in a kind but firm way, that they will be charged a fee if they do not check out at the designated time.
But it’s too beautiful out here, in this open-air market for all that. So I say the most truthful thing I can think of, “I’m going to be a writer.”