By Heather Lowe
This is the fourth 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.
To be honest and speak plainly, I can’t recall who first spoke the word or where the idea actually originated from. Perhaps it was those swollen suits at city hall or some plasticized politician or maybe it was a revolutionary disguised in a different costume, a superhero of sorts – I don’t know. But suddenly the downtown core was plunged into a complete rejuvenation. That was the word of the summer and you could hear it fall from everyone’s lips. Whether they were lunching in cafes, sipping brews at the pub or simply strolling down the sidewalk: Rejuvenation. Say it with me now: Rejuvenation. It sounded sexy and mysterious and the revolutionaries were enticed, to say the least.
The local newspaper plastered the word on the front page and accompanied it with a lengthly yet vague article outlining the details of this exciting and surely expensive change to the downtown. My roommate and I hastily searched the house for our scissors so we could cut the article out as if it were a glamorous Tiger Beat photo of a shiny, shirtless celebrity. We pasted the article on our dirty fridge between the long-forgotten free coffee coupon and an overdue internet bill. We proudly stared at it like a child admiring his gold-star artwork. We mindlessly grinned at each other and then back to the article until our faces began to ache.
Like a tragically naive young girl at her very first sleepover party, the downtown core was to be pinned down, polished, reshaped and manicured. The makeover plan began with a clever yet obvious concept that seemed to be hiding in plain sight the whole time. It was simple but it would completely revolutionize the face of downtown: What if the traffic on the Main Street went in both directions? “Well, what a novel idea! A real superb thought, old boy!” The swollen suits patted themselves on their fat backs and congratulated one another while the rest of us revisited our childhoods so we could always remember to look both ways when we crossed the street.