There is magic in the old city. You'll know that already if you've ever lived there. Or if you've read anything by Charles de Lint you'll be able to imagine it.
had to go all the long, long way into the city today. When we had a
free moment, I took my daughter to see the decrepit house I once lived
in when I was a starving student learning poetry and old books and
eating Chinese takeaways for dinner. My apartment was tiny and you could
not walk halfway into the kitchen without fearing that you'd slide down
the tilted floor towards the uncertain windows. I was amazed to see the
building still standing, after all these years.
were walking back down the hill, an old Slavic man walked up towards us.
He looked like something out of a myth - dressed in ancient style, all
browns and weary leather; he wore a round leather hat from beneath which
hung two long grey braids. His chin was tattooed. He walked with the
aid of a twisted wooden cane, although he was tall and thin and
I smiled at him, utterly drawn to him. And he stopped. He said, how is it that I should come upon two such beautiful ladies on a day like this? And
he waved a hand to honour the sky, sending black birds swirling into
cold grey light. Then he held out both arms and bowed to us.
laughed with delight and thanked him. We went on our way. Turning back
once, I saw him ambling up the hill. Turning back again a moment later, I
found he had vanished.
No doubt he lives in one of the
tiny dingy apartments which clutter the ramshackle houses on the hill.
He likely sits alone in his dim room, dreaming of his wondrous, faraway
homeland and drinking smoky tea. But it seemed to me he was one of the
old, deeper people, the magic people, and I feel blessed to have crossed
his path on this hushed winter's day.