The Lifespan of a Fly


Streets, People, Communities, Homes
August 4, 2010, 8:43 AM
Filed under: Generalizations | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A few years ago, when I was still only a part-time student in my program of study, I was given a final exam. Final exams for writers tend to be much different from those for say, students enrolled in a BSc program. Rather than a long, drawn out, tedious examination that drains your more than tests you on your actual knowledge, writers are normally given a spontaneous writing assignment, driven by a prompt. Now THAT is my kind of test. The prompt still comes to mind now and then and definitely did so the other day, on my short walk from the bus stop to my home.

“How have you been changed?” was the prompt. Most of my peers chose to write about some life-altering event. I’ve always been a little less structured in my thinking and instead made some observations that have been changed since I was a little girl.

I grew up in a suburb in Northern Ontario, where almost everyone spoke French and almost everyone was white. The world was very structured and easy to understand than (at least I thought so). My community was French. The neighbouring community was English, and everyone played with everyone else. Not so hard to understand. The world was divided into “good” and “bad”, into “black” and “white” and there was no in between for a ten-year-old girl of French Canadian descent (and whose first language always will be English).

I grew, as most children do, and the black and white of the world transformed into varying shades of grey. The good neighbourhoods and the bad neighbourhoods met in the middle and people from all walks of life inhabited them both. My walk home from the bus stop is regularly one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.

I pass the large soccer field adjacent to the Jewish elementary school and see Muslim children and Christian children passing a ball back and forth. To my right is a large apartment complex (which I used to live in), children run and scream in their play. Parents watch them studiously from their balcony. Everyone knows whose child is whose, whether or not they speak English, there is the universal language everyone knows. The language of community. Relative strangers wave as I walk past. I guess I’ve also become part of their normalcy.

When the days draws to its end, and the children are ushered inside by their parents, another form of community emerges. Its members are readily visible in their red or white clothing, depending on which community they’re from. Goods are exchanged between them. Drugs and guns and other weapons are swapped, while the day-time community is nestled safely inside their homes. On occasion, a gun shot will ring out and wake you from your slumber. Did I really hear that? you think, and sleep takes you over again.

When I was young, everything was black and white. There were good people and there were bad people. There were good neighbourhoods and there were bad neighbourhoods. Now that I am older, I notice that neighbourhoods are like people. They have their shinning moments of love and acceptance. The joyous screams of life can be heard, but deep in their heart, there can be darkness. Sometimes it comes out to haunt us and perform its dirty deeds under street lamps.

If there was no darkness, no evil to be found, would we know how to be good and loving? Would we know how to appreciate those bright rays of light?

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1 Comment so far
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I’ve said it once… I will say it again… “You are awesome!!”

Comment by Terrie




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