In 7 short days, I will be on a plane headed home, and it's got me reminiscing about all the people & places I've missed over the last year. What to do first, where to go...
Like, do I want to stop by my old office and see which illiterate alcoholics are still there? It really galled, taking orders from people who didn't know their there's from their they'res. Two, too, to irritating. Your illiterate, yes you're.
Do I want to check out my old C-train stop, which was the site of a bloody rape & murder the fall before I left? Do I want to go crack-spotting or perhaps play another round of Crazy Hobo Bingo? If I'm downtown, I can do both! It's awesome in my hometown.
Like this one time, I was on the bus, innocently reading Winnie the Pooh while Gord watched a crack deal go down. Like the time we were going to paint pottery, and the well dressed man pulled out his crack pipe, and gave us the stink eye. Crackheads - they're not always homeless! Yet.
Or that beautiful summer day, we went downtown in the evening for a stroll and an ice cream, and shared our bench with a guy who smoked his crack and had a little argument with a homeless woman. (Under the I - crackhead. Under the G - angry homeless woman.) Good times. Awkward times.
There's the sweet hungry homeless guy that Gord gave $5 to once, who thanked him profusely and said
"You watch, man. I'm gonna take this money and go right across the street and buy a slice of pizza. I'm so hungry, man, you saved my life, thank you, thank you...I'm gonna get a pizza right now."
So Gord watched, and the hungry man whose life he just saved did walk across the street, stop beside the door of the pizza parlor...and walked past it, to meet the crack dealer in the alley behind it. Isn't it great when you can really help someone?
There are places that have a special meaning, too. Like my little brother's first apartment in the city. It was on good old 16th Ave, home of Peters Drive-In and the meth lab next door that could have blown up at any time and killed him. And then I would have had to hunt those bastards down, wreak bloody vengence on them and wear their bleached skulls around my neck as a warning. I'm just glad Kelly moved out of that place, because I don't have the physique to pull off a necklace of skulls. I think you have to be 6 feet tall, thin and exotic looking - Iman could pull it off. But not a chubby quiet girl with glasses, who looks like a slightly stunned librarian. So, thanks, operators of the meth lab next door, for getting busted and shut down before you blew up my brother. Your card is in the mail.
And there's our old apartment, where I slept through my first walk by shooting. I remember it well. I was napping on the couch one Monday afternoon in September and I heard 4 shots. Woke me up. And I thought to myself, "That can't be gunshots, this is Calgary, for Christs sake". I thought it must have been...some other loud bang, four times in succession. But then the neighbors were yelling about gunshots, and so I thought, "OK, gunshots. But certainly not that close..." Turns out it was the apartment across the courtyard. Someone had walked up the path, fired 4 shots at the third floor balcony and run away. Since it was right across from us, we got to watch the police check out 'the scene' all night, and they even came over to ask if we'd seen anything. It was just like Law & Order, which always sucks since Briscoe left.
So when people wonder why we left Calgary, what do we say? It's not that Montreal is perfect, but the homeless are bilingual which gives it a certain 'je ne sais quoi', the family next door has an elderly weiner dog with a mean underbite instead of a meth lab, and the only drug use I've encountered on the street has been pot. I'll take a pothead over a crackhead any day.
But, you know. It's gonna be awesome to see friends and family. We're looking forward to it, really we are.