a sort of homecoming

A lot has gone right today. I was comped my americano at the former employer on my way to university this morning. I attended my last class of the semester, and discovered that our final is actually a take-home exam. I received resounding YES to a proposal at work from all the right people. I found the greatest movie ever at Future Shop for only $12.99. I saw a part of Kelowna I had looked at, but never had seen. And the rain stayed away long enough for me to capture it.

The low hanging spring cloud sulking over the city provided a tenor eerily similar to the Dublin portrayed in the aforementioned film. Although I've lived in the Valley for eighteen years, I've never walked through the alleys downtown, and with Hansard & Co. in my ears I set out to discover what was behind the facade.

As I walked behind familiar store fronts and in between restored brick buildings, I was struck by a few things. First, there is an awful lot of graffiti downtown, but it is all the same three tags: a bloated 'OK', 'anon' with a question mark underneath, and something completely unintelligible. We may have few hoodlums, but they are prolific.

Secondly, the alleys are much cleaner than I remember them being. A few years ago, the downtown became a dumpster-free district modeled after a successful project in Seattle. This was hugely contentious when first implemented, but has been such a resounding success that Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary are all in various stages of their own programs based off of Kelowna's template.

Finally, I realized that my dismissal of this town as uncultured and inauthentic was a little bit naive. Make no mistake, Kelowna is a beautiful city; there is lots of vibrant colour downtown,
but my view of my city was largely that of a tourist. When I walked off the maintained sidewalks, I found a city awash in muted grays and reds and blues, walls textured by time. I found brick walls in multiple shades as doors and windows were filled in. I found beaten signs proclaiming long abandoned business ventures. I found chain link and razor wire protecting two plastic chairs and a rusted snow shovel.

Then the burdened skies relented, and splatters appeared on my glasses from the rain which had been holding back so generously. I booked it to my car, and left the city for the first time.

8.4.08. Cropped to 3X5.

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