Calgary's +15

I moved to Calgary in 2005 for no real reason except Georgia said I’d like it. We bought a van for $100 and the rest is..... a completely different story.

I came from Toronto, where there's an underground subway, underground pathway, and underground music scene. Calgary, on the other hand,  has no underground activity. Trains and pathways are both above-ground, taking advantage of Calgary's 333 sunny days a year.

The Calgary pathway is actually 15 ft above the ground, and simply a series of tunnels connecting one building to the next. It's cleverly called The +15.

The history of the +15, built in 1969 can be found here: The Endless Interior

Oftentimes, tourists aren't aware of the +15, and even some locals can't be bothered to figure out the twisting and turning path. All you really have to do is look for the little cowboy cutie on the sign!

The +15 was also featured in a film called Waydowntown (2002) by Canadian filmmaker Gary Burns. It’s about a group of young office workers who bet they can spend an entire year going from work to home, without ever having to go outside. It's funny and they all lose their minds, much like some oil and gas folks do. Waydowntown Trailer

This winter, after months of being terribly cold, I finally discovered a route running 8 blocks from my work to my bus stop. This was my first real experience taking the +15 daily, and I was delighted to find it was full of strange and wonderful things. 

In most cities, you usually wouldn't frequent the office buildings very much. I never realized how ridiculous some of them are. The new ones make me feel like a slob with their indoor trees, leather couches and fancy Italian coffee shops. The floors, walls and ceilings are all made of pure marble, I'm pretty sure.

The older ones make me feel like I’m in the ‘80’s during Calgary’s first big oil boom, like I could light up a cigarette inside and no one would care. There is a hair salon called Mane Street, a travel agency and a convenience store called "The Things". There's a sort of overall light brown corduroy feeling, and overwhelming smells of crappy coffee and chinese soup. Even the men in their brown suits sitting at the cafeteria look like they've been sitting there for 35 years. 

There is one stretch of my walk that is unrivaled. It’s called the Udderly Art Legacy Pasture. The story is that in the 1990’s, as a nod to the Alberta cattle industry, the city had 125 life-sized fiberglass cows made and painted by local artists, then displayed all over downtown. It was the largest display of street art that Calgary ever saw. They were referred to simply as 'The Cows'.

I'm not sure how long they stood, but often I hear people wonder "Where did all the cows go?" Well have I got a treat for you, I found them! They're chilling in my sunny walk to work!

And Georgia was right. 


..if I don't keep blowing air into it.

After Ryan died I signed up for grief counselling and waited 8 weeks for the class to start.
I put so much on the counselling; everything, in fact. I thought it was going to fix me.

When the day finally came, I was dropped off at Rockyview Hospital where it was being held in the chapel.

It wasn't the same hospital that Ryan died in, but from now on, all hospitals will feel like the same hospital.

I was early so I got a coffee from Good Earth, and as I put sugar in it, realized why I was feeling so giddy. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Somewhere deep down in my subconscious, I had decided that he was still lying in a hospital bed somewhere and I was finally going to get to see him again.

The subconscious is a motherfucker.

"You think you're going to see him, you stupid stupid girl".
What they don't tell you is that it doesn't just happen once, it happens over and over again. 

So I walked my mind through what it had wanted. Me and my coffee walking down the hall to his room, and strolling right in. But that's where my dream ended. 

It makes sense. That was where I left him. I missed him wholly; my life was upheaved, and now I was back where I'd left him and I was going to finally see his beautiful face.

Grief is fucked. I lost it. Losing it in a hospital, however, is sort of ok.

Grief counselling, although not what I expected, was helpful. It reminded me that death is everywhere, and my complete world destruction was not unique, only a part of life. This was a necessary piece of advice, because grief can be harmful when full-strength.

To the land of the living grief is sadness, but I can tell you it's also selfish, delusional, irrational and mean.


I dream my painting and I paint my dream - Vincent Van Gogh

If you've lost someone you love, then you know the temporary joy you get in waking up from a dream where you were hand in hand.

April 2016

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