That other perfect stranger

Photograph by me; March 7th, 2017.

A downtrodden man begged my attention as I walked up King Street with a heavy cart laden with groceries and cleaning supplies.“You may think I’m crazy, but I want you to look at that sky. See? It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

We stood together for a moment, admiring the pale colours. A rainbow so lightly coloured, one could easily miss it. Once he was sure I photographed it, he disappeared into a white door.

He didn’t want money or my easily visible foods. Just to share that rainbow. When he had that moment, he was gone.

This happened at least thrice before in my recent memories, all of randomly appearing males wishing to impart or share a gesture, then they vanish.

First immediate memory was me walking with two nephews (second cousins for your clarification). We cut through a park. I was outwardly docile, inwardly I was my worst tormentor. My nephews were startled at a man suddenly in our immediate presence, attention fixed on me.

“Daughter, stormy skies hold rainbows.”

Second, I was raging internally at Mother as we pulled into a Canadian Tire parking lot. I was careful to not collide with the neighbouring parked vehicle. A little boy, hardly tall enough to graze my hips, ran to me as I was climbing out of the car. Babbling about wanting to touch the “huge rainbow feather wings” (his words) from my person. Mother stared and the boy’s guardian, a young man, apologized to her and tried calling the boy to him. The boy tugged me to level our gazes.

“Angels shouldn’t have to cry. You’re too pretty and your wings are humongous and sparkly with lots of colours.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of his words, so I nodded to satisfy his need to comfort me. My throat had a lump, I couldn’t choke words out if I tried. He wiped the tears threatening to fall from my eyes despite my glasses, smiled, and ran back to the young man who also fell silent. Mother brought up the experience again after my interview with Kimberly Marooney, then not again.

Third, there was a visitor to Laurier’s campus. I’d been upset with my cohort and Q4 difficulties. A man spent days blowing bubbles, large, iridescent spheres drifting in the breezes. The second time I passed him by while marvelling at the rainbows caught by his bubbles, I thanked him and asked if I could give him something in return. An exchange based in my gratitude for a seemingly simple pleasure.

“Thanks for your smile.”

And he, too, disappeared not long after.

If I may, I’d like to partially quote a thank-you letter from a Laurier staff member that was addressed to me. She was going on her second maternity leave, and upon her return, she and I wouldn’t be able to maintain the same professional relationship since her role would change in the school system.

I think this small piece will hold meaning for a reader beyond myself.

“Know that you are enough just as you are. Never let anyone dampen your remarkable spirit.”


  • “Don’t Give Up” by Abraxas Pool

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