By Heather Lowe
This is the second of many excerpts from Heather Lowe’s novella titled Catharine.It explores her love affair with downtown St. Catharines through a series of shamelessly exaggerated vignettes.
In spite of the fear, regret and despair billowing from the city sewers, something promising was bubbling just below the surface. In dark corners of city centres and lurking in the shadows of dingy bars a very small yet significant revolution was building. Perhaps it was collective conscience, perhaps there was something in our water, or perhaps we all simply became elated with living in another so called factory town.
Whatever the reason, artists of all sorts seemed to be growing out of the very soil. Theatre troupes came together like the nervous loins of teenaged boys and girls. Singers, songwriters and self-proclaimed folk heroes banded together like the West Side Story Jets. Visual artists were spewing modest masterpieces under the glass in trendy cafes, on stone walls of city banks and in forgotten alleyways. Tortured poets haunted local cafes and drank coffee after coffee until the server’s stomach ached out of sympathy. An exclusive school of filmmakers paraded the streets as if a red carpet had been laid out. And, of course, writers of all sorts sat hunched over their Macs, smoking cigarettes and other inspiring substances simply searching for their words.
These revolutionaries were an eclectic group; planners, professors, actors, designers, bartenders, local business owners, students, musicians, politicians, drinkers, nerds, freaks, squares, you get it. They drew portraits, painted abstract canvases, wrote anthems and all forms of literature. It wasn’t necessarily an organized movement, there were no soap boxes or secret meetings. It was a collective without ever being consciously decided as such.
An hour and a half from our blooming city laid a metropolis, A Little Apple, if you will. An emerald city of outrageous expense, supposed killer smog, walks of fame and buzzing lights. The metropolis had a certain appeal to be sure; a place that didn’t seem to sleep and gorged itself with trendy vintage shops, pop up restaurants and terrifying traffic. Many left our small, modest city to pursue dreams in The Little Apple but those who didn’t could never exactly pin point why. Some sort of airborne virus spread through the city and we could not help but feel that something impressive was about to happen. A sleeping giant in hibernation just threatening to erupt. We knew it was coming and so we waited. And we waited. And while we waited, we drank.