My Kits Address
By Kalen Marquis
Kits is just across the bridge from downtown. Kits is short for Kitsilano, a charming Vancouver neighbourhood of old and new.
Once over the bridge, just past the school of rusty red, Kits spreads out like a warm, sandy welcome mat. Resident meets tourist and all welcome home the travelling sea.
As the wind sweeps in off the ocean carrying the salts and smells of the Pacific, the water comes lapping in, like heat after heat of panting runners. Weary world travelers from distant shores, they unpack shells and drift wood draped in delicate seaweed strands.
Beachcombers with eyes cast down and runners caked with sand, move trance-like along the beach. They navigate like sea captains between bright beach towels, an oddly familiar yet uncharted course.
Spread out as far and wide as the eye can see, sunbathers open themselves to the sun, taking turns to bump volleyballs, toss discs, and play fetching games with wading pups.
Others, set free, stroll along the seawall or sit on logs, dipping bare feet in sand, letting cool, tickling grains fall between toes. Still others sit on nearby benches, hearing stormy splashes from the pool, looking out at mountains and kilometre after kilometre of rippling sea.
Others push the silver button. They wait. The traffic hushes. A paved path opens and they fall neatly into step between painted white margins and amber-eyed bumpers. Under the heated gaze of armoured drivers with transparent shields, they cross. The restaurants and coffee shops call, their sounds and smells beckoning them to come.
Brilliant diamonds twinkle on patio chairs as clouds dance and the sun plays peek-a-boo with sleepyheads below.
Diners emerge from nowhere to sit at tables with tipped umbrellas. Smiling and laughing, they sip cool drinks and munch tall, tooth picked sandwiches. Only the odd diamond, still winking, reminds them of their morning game of hide-and-seek.
Uphill just a few blocks, major roadways bring motorists from across the city. They lull impatient concrete-city drivers at breakneck speeds into gazing tourists whose shaded eyes trail shoppers on lazy, meandering walks.
Parading here and there, under hypnotic gaze, they saunter from shop... to shop... to shop.
Up on West Fourth, a market serves healthy treats. New-fangled yet natural, rustic yet modern, it is a tasty blend of Kits old and new.
With its neighbour, a glass showcase with well-turned words bracing every wall, they stir the deep hunger in passersby.
Even further up, nestled among the specialty shops on Broadway, a treasury awaits the youngest minds and hearts. Neatly bound in delightful sizes, shapes, and colours, children's books line wooden shelves or sit like glossy, papered parcels skirting a tinseled tree on Christmas morn.
Every evening and weekend, and every day during summer, Kits plays host to guests with passports from the city, suburbs, and more distant locales. Strolling with gentle grins, resident meets tourist, old meets new, and it is hard to tell the difference.
Together, they glide past pursy reflections in shop windows, choosing tissue-wrapped trinkets for home. Settling at flickering tables, beacons of tapered light, they take in savoury fare from around the world.
Later, like doting relations, they watch Mother Nature tuck a tangerine sun into the shaded silhouette. Quickly fading, endurance spent, its fiery tantrum ends. She pulls back covers for her dropping orb and, with sleepy sighs, it snuggles beneath a wrinkled ocean, a fun house mirror of slippery sea.
Whispering goodnight beneath a creamy carnation sky, they amble up for fresh berries or pastry drizzled with chocolate or honey. With the shimmering pyrite city at their backs and a sliver of moon as their nightlight, they are led by old promises, the thick smell of roasted coffee.
Some come out late-late at night to sink crayon-coloured balls into soft corner pockets or bite stringy bites behind sweating windows with burning neon signs.
And then, with curfews broken beyond repair, they hasten home under streetlamps and a star-suspended sky.
Rising early or sleeping late, Kits residents go off to work or dash from shop to shop, filling sticky-wheeled carts with everyday things. Life in Kits goes on as usual--until it is time to play tourist once again.
Even after all these years, I am still a wide-eyed tourist, a traveler, thirsty and parched, who drinks it all in.
Reserved, yet friendly, with lips pursed against open-mouthed awe, I would happily show you, the tourist, around...
So, if you're out this way, just look me up. All you'll need is my Kits address.
© 1999 Kalen Marquis