An undercurrent of anger runs through the veins of the city.
Sure, we mostly manage to disguise it through carefully crafted pleasantries, or random acts of kindness that do an astonishing job of pushing it deeper.
But every so often this river flows to the surface. It may seep into the ground slowly, tinging everyday interactions with red. Then again, it may explode like a spurting geyser.
The other afternoon, I was crossing a busy street with a friend. Suddenly, out of the window of a passing pick-up truck overflowed an angry torrent. Directed, no less, at a breed of dog.
"I HATE POODLES! I FUCKING HATE POODLES SO MUCH! THEY SHOULD ALL DIE!!"
Venom dripped through the window, so vehement and all consuming was his rage. And, as I, jaws agape, drew closer to the sidewalk, I realized that he was spitting out these words not only at the 30-something woman walking the dog, but also aiming them at her two daughters, who couldn't have been above the age of eight.
(As an aside, this is where my anger took over, once I started thinking about how traumatizing it would be to be eight, and to love your dog so fiercely, only to have someone throw such hate at her. At this point, I stopped in my tracks, and yelled at him for being such a profound scum bag for doing that in front of children.)
There is a man who lives across from me who is uncreatively referred to as "Angry Guy". He takes to the quiet, tree lined streets, mostly in the dead of night, to broadcast his fury.
There are occasionally themes to his tirades, such as racial slurs or misogyny. But mostly he just screams "fuck off, you motherfucker", with such focused enunciation on every syllable, as though each time he shouts it, he believes it more and more.
His ferocity scares me. I don't know what it takes for someone to maintain such rage, to hold onto it until the dead of night, then to let it stream out, interrupted, only gaining in force until my piqued ears hear the sneaking sound of the police car turning, now a more regular visitor to this otherwise unassuming neighbourhood.
While I believe profoundly in catharsis, I don't understand these public expressions of anger, which only seem to be holding a flame to gasoline, rather than dousing it in water.
Then again, I don't really understand anger.
This is not to say I don't experience it.
It just perplexes me in its uncontrollability.
I know what to do with almost every other emotion, but when anger sweeps over me, I feel powerless. I pace. My head spins. It lurks in the back of my mind, and leaps out again, despite all the patented soothing attempts that work so well with sadness or anxiety. I grind my teeth and clamp my fists, willing the thoughts frantically colliding in my head to remain unexpressed. It's as though I need to experience something overwhelming to my senses to unclench, like a scalding hot bath.
The notion of savouring it, of nourishing it, of publicly declaring it, just feels a little absurd.
I would rather my river run dry before it reaches the surface.