Brief Passage of Time (Billy, Gary, Paul and Mike)
Some of my moments were brief encounters but no less memorable, some were openly receptive to my presence and others were guarded and I didn’t want to force my time nor make anyone feel uncomfortable. However brief, I still have names that I can place on these four men whom I am sure we have passed throughout our times on the streets of Toronto.
While sipping on a breakfast shake outside a 7/11 on Bay St. at Richmond I ran into Billy who was shy and extraordinarily polite. He has been on the streets for roughly 5 years, constantly in search of warmth during the winter, sadly and unfortunately some have to resort to means of pulling stunts that can wind you up in jail. It’s a bed, food, and shelter. Sad how good people may have to cross a line for a sense of sheltered protection. Billy was sitting back watching the perch on behalf of his friend Paul whom I ran into later.
Gary was reserved of my presence and we exchanged a couple of stories. He has been on the streets for 9 years originally hailing from Thunder Bay. He received a lot throughout the evening as my other subjects had too. I requested to take his photograph, he agreed but followed up with “But you have to leave me alone now”. He wasn’t being rude, he is just private, guarded and not used to all of the attention he was receiving all Christmas Day. The reality is the 364 days is spent in silence and all of the sudden you become celebrity like with people coming at you from everywhere. For all of us, I guess it is time to notice and pay attention during the other 364 days.
He is from Manitoulin Island, has been on the streets for 15 years and has family in Barrie. He is a quiet gentle giant who is unsure and very guarded as well. We exchanged idle chit chat for a few minutes over a cigarette but he was looking around everywhere and I didn’t want to steal his thunder in case someone wanted to offer him a gift. It can be intimidating to others when you have two people congregated on the sidewalk.
I mentioned to Paul about running into Billy, he laughed and he was telling about how he was just running about through the day and now back at his usual location in front of the 7/11. He has been on and off the streets for about 20 years. I left the photo intact with imperfections of rain on the lens on purpose. It was starting to rain pretty hard by this point. You can see how wet he is, I too shared the same wet feeling but I have the opportunity to dry off in warmth later on. He doesn’t have that same option.