I just sat in Pigeon Park for an hour.
Pigeon Park is made up of a few homeless, some addicts, and in general the more underprivileged citizens of Vancouver. It’s not so much a park as it is a concrete patio on a street corner. It’s a place where people gather, give each other cigarettes, joints, a couple bucks, maybe a shoulder to lean on.
Then there’s me. Sitting there by myself on a bench with my camera and my book. I get odd stares from them, mostly out of distrust. They see me as a stranger, an outsider and they wonder what I want from them. The moment I lifted my camera, to take a photo of the beautiful heritage building on that corner, I got yelled at by a bunch of them whom I didn’t even know were looking at me. I’m fairly certain they all thought I was a cop.
Following my getting reprimanded, one of the women got to talking about how she was from Jamaica, how she owns land down there that she inherited from her grandmother, that she wasn’t really planning on going back, that she liked Vancouver despite the cold. She told me about the guy next to her whose face was swollen like a bowling ball and how he’d gotten kicked in the face by a steel-toed boot just the night before. He got angry. She trusted me.
I see these people everyday and often times it’s as I’m rushing off to work. But I want to connect with them. They have stories to tell. And I like stories. But I really need to earn their trust. Sometimes I can’t believe the remarkable rift that exists between human beings that live amongst each other.