It frightens me.
It's a soul less place.
I tense up when approaching.
Breathe again when it's behind me.
All it is ...
is a doorway.
It's a few blocks south of here on the west side of Yonge Street. Just a little past the corner. It's where things are sold. Drugs. Maybe sex. Certainly lives. The youth who hang there look old. They have hungry eyes and dead smiles. I have seen them and they have seen me. We look across at each other as if we are glancing at parallel universes. I can't imagine their lives. They can't imagine mine.
I don't know where the door goes to. I have never seen it open. There are rooms above the shops on Yonge and I'd guess that the stairs rise up into those spaces. But in my mind's eye, the stairs go down, descend to the very pits of hell. There, in the doorway one smells poverty and desperation, one sees hopelessness and need, one imagines skin worn perpetually cold.
We went by there a few days ago and there was no one there. This is rare. It's a busy doorway. It's a brisk trade. And the doorway seemed to be cavernous even though it's a shallow step off the street. The doorway seemed to have a life of it's own, as if more blood flowed through the concrete than does through the veins of the boys who hang there.
Sometimes, like last time, one of them calls to me. Across the great divide that separates our lives. 'Hey bud, you got a smoke?' I yell back, friendly like, 'Sorry, I don't smoke.' 'That's OK, man,' the kid says. I know he doesn't want a smoke from me - but he wanted something. Not charity. Not pity. Certainly not judgement. Maybe just - contact.
I pushed away fear of him, the others and the doorway, to speak to him. I imagine he pushed away demons to speak to me. In a million moments that form a lifetime, what happened will mean nothing even 5 minutes later. But there was an instant of warmth, and instant where we pretended that we were all together on the same planet, it's all I had to give. At that moment, it seemed all he needed.
That night I dreamed the door opened, but I woke up, sweating, before I saw inside.