“Enter through back alley,” I read. “Well, that sounds safe.”
“Oh there it is,” he says.
“That’s not an alley. That’s a street.”
“Ask any hooker, it’s an alley.”
It’s your typical Thursday night shift: we all show up at the venue, not knowing what we’re going to be doing or where we ought to be, and play it cool – which, by the way, isn’t all that difficult to do when it’s -1C outside and windy as all hell.
“So,” C. says, “That guy back there? He’s nineteen. I just hit on a nineteen-year-old security guard. But he looked twenty-five.”
“Are you turning pedophile in your old age?” I answer, smirking.
“No. No, no, no.”
We’re herded upstairs where I meet Bree, “like the cheese but spelled differently,” and Velvet, bartenders who are busy polishing glassware. Velvet glances at me and takes out a copy of Gods Behaving Badly from her bag, handing it over as the client turns her back. “Close your eyes, ask a question, and flip to a page. You’ll get a word.” I do as she says and get an answer to my question. “What is this game?” Bree laughs. “Something we invented ten minutes ago because we were bored.” I like them immediately.
We put in the time, running up and down stairs. Around eleven, when the outside world has left, we gather around the last table standing and eat bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin with truffled aioli, summer rolls with cilantro, olives, cheese, fruit, stuffed mini potatoes. We tell each other our stories – it’s always best to come armed with one or two – and meet the still midnight air together as we make the trek back home. It seems warmer. The winds have calmed.
My day-to-day is jam packed with rules and regulations, corporate policies and standards. There are rules, here, too, but mostly it is about living in the moment, learning the art of infinite adaptability, being okay with plans being subject to change. Some greet uncertainty with caution while others throw themselves head first into the abyss.
After weeks of melancholy-tinged conversations with others about the economy and the state of the world, being reminded of how few choices we really have and how powerless we really are, feeling as though I can choose my own life is re-invigorating. We have never been able to choose our environment; that’s out of our control. But at the end of the alley there is a door, if you can see it, if you’re willing to brave it, and in spite of what you know or think you may know or have been told, adventure lies ahead.