Welcome To the Neighbourhood

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Delta Smith

When I got the call, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go. My eldest brother, his wife and children were in Italy, the next oldest brother and my nephew were in Greece staying with a cousin and my older brother was at sea.

It was only on my way home from work, trapped in the snarl of traffic that I realized that finding out what happened to my mother was far more important than editing my peers' reports. With nothing packed, no one notified and no one to keep me there, I was at the airport buying a ticket at the counter for YVR. It wasn't the first and it won't be the last impulsive action I have taken.

I spent my in-flight hours reading the magazines that were provided. Full page ads for Shangri-La condos and golf courses in Mexico caught my eye. My mother loved Mexico. She wanted to live in a high-rise. Even the jewelry with absurd engravings of roman numerals reminded me of my mother.

My parents were married in the fall, maybe October, of 1961. She was 21 and he was 35. Her family had emigrated from Greece when she was 4, his maternal grandfather was Métis, the rest of the lineage was European-Canadian, Heinz 57 Varities. I was the youngest and the most planned. My father wanted a daughter and my mother kept trying. After Endre, Linus and Nemo came Delta. My mother named me "fourth" to remind him of her efforts.

I wasn't surprised to have landed in the midst of rain. I had never been to Vancouver, but the atmosphere made me feel like I was destined to be a Dick Tracy or a Sherlock Holmes. Only in search of my mother's whereabouts.

A cab took me to 344 North Avenue, somewhere in the city. My mother's apartment was there, and I was to meet with a Mr. Keith Prosser in regards to the keys and lease. Instead I met with a sign on the manager's door that read:

"On a break
Be back in 5"

My doubts ran high. I stood in the hallway and stared at the green and gold tiling that my mother probably ignored. Unlike her, I had the opportunity to count the tiles. The mailboxes provided some distraction as I searched for "J. Smith" or "Jocasta" or anything that would signal that I was at the right building. Privacy was noted by all those with the family name "Occupied". Not seeing her name, I had to assume she had joined the cult, too.

A man in his 30s came around the corner and tipped his hat at me. I echoed a hello with a nod of my head. I searched his eyes for signs of a Prosser. He went out the front and remained one of the "Occupied"s.

A younger woman stood outside the door fumbling for her keys in her bag. I reached for the door to let her in and she stared at me sternly.

"You shouldn't let just anyone in."

"I didn't. I let someone who was looking for her keys in. I'm sorry."

She stuck her nose, in the most clichéd manner, upwards, checked her "Occupied" box and stormed towards the stairs.

Is it a wonder how a woman could go missing from this apartment? No one wants to know each other aside from minimal acknowledgment. I'll have to start organizing something so we can start looking after each other's neighbours. I should probably let work know I'm unlikely to come back in the next couple weeks.

"Ms. Smith?"

"Mr. Prosser?"

"You look very much like your mother."


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