Dawn in Vancouver, midwinter, after a cold, clear night. The sun is rising, but it’s hidden behind buildings. Early morning light is soft and I am walking through Victory Square, finally taking a moment to pause and look at the things I usually see in passing as I rush by.
A man is walking his dog. I’ve seen the dog before, though I don’t remember the man. He lives nearby, I suppose.
Flocks of crows pass overhead on their morning flight. None of them stop in the park. I wonder where they’re heading. I take pictures of them flying above electric bus cables; blurred black bird-shapes against the deep blue cut by black wires.
I stop to take a picture of steam rising from a pipe in the ground and admire the deep blue of the dawn sky, slowly lightening.
There’s a dusting of white from the day before, when the city collectively panicked as the temperature dropped below zero and the pouring rain crystallized into snowflakes.
The lamps that line the paths of the park used to be invisible to me. I remember the day I noticed they were helmets – like those worn by soldiers a hundred years ago. I can’t imagine how I didn’t see it for so long.
The cenotaph that stands in the northeast corner of the park still has wreaths that were laid there on Remembrance day. Their name liveth forevermore.
The mosaic stonework beside the path catches my eye. Pender. Hamilton. Victoria. I take a few more pictures but can’t capture what I see, or what I feel.
I’m not alone. People walk by on their way to somewhere. Cars, trucks, buses are all speeding along the streets that surround me. But I don’t hear them. I feel like I’m standing outside of time, watching everything go by, waiting for the sun to light up the winter sky with golden rays of morning. They don’t see me. Things move around me but I am still. I am invisible.
I turn away from the mosaic and walk along the path, enjoying the contrast and reflections of morning light on the buildings against the blue-grey sky. I stop for one last picture, hoping I can catch the perfect light as I see it, but knowing my phone isn’t really up to the challenge.
I notice the cold again. Crisp, frosty, I can see my breath.
I take a photo.
I am not the only invisible person in Victory Square. But I am invisible by choice, knowing that I can step back into the city around me and back into my normal life.
I am not the only invisible person in Victory Square.
I step away and head to work. I forget. By my photo remembers.
There are always invisible people in Victory Square.