I proceeded from the back door, for a smoke at sundown, cutting through horizontal streets in a dimly lit neighbourhood – I was hoping to remain unseen, like a marauder in search for the grandeur. A cigarette in hand, Matchstick after matchstick, the breeze stole the spark; a stain of light persevered, the Emerald Lady had arrived, dancing through my eyes. She accompanied me towards the glows, the luminous currents of Kitsilano on a drizzling Friday evening. Dripping roads glistened as the auburn bulbs refracted outwards, she was swiftly in a discothèque, demanding a melody to complement her environment – an algorithmic bass echoed in the distance, we had to follow. We came across fellow travellers along the way, their silence worried us, she seemed to dislike the rectangular whites that tainted their corneas; they were too seamless for her, she liked to sway, disfigured. She spoke of her ancestry and the ways in which the flames came to be. I noticed a melancholy, a longing of some sort. Her vibrancy started to fade, I wasn’t ready to be left alone. The silent goodbye was promptly interrupted by a boom of a siren, an ambulance that flooded my senses – she had disappeared.
Stunned by the swapping lights and vibrating asphalt that slowly began to decline, I could only see blatant outlines in a blurry haze. Polygons of various sizes engulfed the space, embodying the souls of shelters and signals; I was intimidated by the linearity, as if I was surrounded by deities of faultlessness. Chrome and stone, glass and steel, this realm was heaving with rigidity, enunciating its power – its posture in the face of nature. My lenses recalibrated, I found myself in front of a residential gate, black metal bars past a plain sheet of glass. My body’s reflection had surfaced behind the bars, a prisoner of some sort; as an unshackled outsider, I felt the need to interrogate the body, its arrangement – the curves in the midst of all these impeccable lines. I recoiled towards a darker alleyway immensely decorated with steel and carbon thread, intertwined and overlapping with no symmetry; a day in the life of a drunken spider, I imagined. A scent of compost emerged, followed by the sound of rain softly disintegrating a cardboard box. I was witnessing a spectacle of degradation, the inevitable end to life, and the unsympathetic reality of temporality. The alleyways became a place of rupture, an escape from the neon fantasies on commercial streets and the paved suburbia.
The bone-jolting frequencies of the bass had finally surfaced in full-form, resonating from a nearby bar. I observed as waiters and waitresses systematically served tables, like an uninterrupted tango, reiterated immaculately. A strong gust flew past me, I was drawn into the crackling leaves on nearly bare trees, trapped in the concrete – I could feel them choking, gasping for air. I was reminded our conversation, she had articulated the trees with such finesse, “custodians of sacrifice”, as she puts it; they were loyal, they died for her time and time again, for they must scorch for her to breed – but here they are, shackled in the rain, striving. They guarded a meshed barrier that encased a community garden, rows and rows of numbered coffin-shaped planters, barren or empty. It is conceivable that such spaces exist as way of coping with the constant clatter, the buzzing sounds of wires and rides in the rapid pace of a day – the unavoidable struggle to survive in a world where material governs. I was unwanted in the garden, for all entrances were sealed with thick locks – brass ruled the area. I watched as cars and buses fled by, closely observing the ways in which light gambolled on the glass, transfiguring into an abstract elastic, before dissipating into a void. It felt as though I was witnessing an invisible world, an environment that could only be discovered through immobility. I caught a glimpse of a nearby window, a perpetual flow of white flashes drained through the venetian blinds, as though a thunderstorm had made its home in an uptown apartment – I was drawn into the inconsistency, but I was afraid of it too. Perhaps it was the persuaded tendency to be alert at the sight of a flash, like traffic lights and emergency vehicles, or the subconscious association with weaponry – I had decided to challenge those interpretations. An ambulance whooshed by once again, a sign to relocate, just as I did before. I traversed a street, downhill, towards the ocean; I was searching for stillness, a tranquility from the roaring city.
I had reached my destination, my scope of vision had expanded, I was exposed to a vastness – and so my mind had to follow. I gazed above, to mountaintops with bright lights attempting to pierce through the fog; it resembled a unique constellation, as if I were somehow floating in an abyss of stars. I tugged a cigarette from my pack, I was hoping that the darkness would be substantial enough for her to remerge – matchstick after matchstick, to my enchantment, the Emerald Lady had arrived once again. Her figure juxtaposed behind the city vista, a stark comparison of the manufactured and the organic, a clear picture of past and present. We spoke of light, its different forms, and its innate desire to guide and mentor; whatever its intention may be. The city was immersed with light, the moon was always a secondary source, darkened by the vitality of surrounding illuminations. I squinted and contemplated the city from afar –pulsing polychromatic strings flooded my eye, interlacing and forking. She had merged in with the others, a vibrant green amongst the rest, swimming in a reverie. And in a blink, she departed, to where the ghosts of light mingle in the darkness, awaiting a summoning from a fellow traveler.