I'm starting to realize that there are many East Vans. There's the one I live in, where the Drive is a funky street to eat out and buy great clothes, a rough-edged but warm-hearted neighborhood that I love. A neighborhood I can walk around, even late at night, and feel pretty safe in. And then there's this other East Van, where some of the kids in my show live. A place where you get beat up if you walk down the Drive. A place with rival gangs that can trap you between them, so that every walk is dangerous. A world where the streets aren't safe, and home may not be any safer. Just now, after I wrote that, J & I were standing on the balcony watching some totally looped guy stumbling around in the bushes outside the apartment across the street. The other day, there was a completely stoned woman passed out on our lawn. "It's gotten worse in the last year or two," said J, matter-of-factly. So these two worlds are closer than I sometimes think. I love where I live, the raw mix of it all. But it breaks my heart to know that it's a place of terror for other people. And seeing the violence, the drugs and the poverty spilling over- I can understand why so many flee to the suburbs or to smaller towns to raise families. It takes it out of you, to stay.
One family that has stayed are my friends G&T, and their son Sebastien, who I looked after for almost 8 hours yesterday. Here's a typical East Van scenario: I took the little guy to a park close to his home, where he played joyfully in the playground while a homeless guy thrashed in his sleeping bag by the empty paddling pool and a dead cat lay stiff by the garbage cans. Thank goodness he's too young to see too far beyond his tiny bubble yet! I forgot how much fun kids are- it's so amazing to belly-laugh with someone that young- to look into their eyes and share a joke, even though you can barely share language yet. My face was tired from laughing. He plays his ukelele and sings: "Maman! Papa! Alisooooooon!" while he rocks out- it's so great.
I'm still fighting this nose infection. My latest self-diagnosis: some kind of Staph infection. One hopes not, especially since I was around a small child yesterday. But it might be, so I'd better get it checked out, because if it is, it's not gonna go away on its own. I'm usually so lucky with my health- it really drags you down, feeling blah all the time.