“Last one out of Liberty City, burn it to the ground.”
“Last One Out Of Liberty City”, ‘Hello Rockview’; Less Than Jake (1998)
“My advice, to anyone willing to listen, is to find a notebook that fits into your pants pocket. Use a pen with a cap so it doesn’t explode in your pocket, and start writing down whatever you can remember. Even if it’s a favourite colour. Then, later, write down why it’s your favourite colour…. and pretty soon you’ve got a list.”
Me for the past two weeks.
The Third Of Five Lists: The First 52 Places I Remember Living
Close to eighteen months into my recovery I started writing a new journal. After a while I started making lists to sort out my memories, including one of all the places I’ve lived. Without a doubt this list has been the most work of them all. I’ve lived in at least 52 houses, apartments and rooming houses so trying to put dates on each is almost impossible. But getting them out on paper has enabled me to place important, and trivial, events into some order which otherwise were left confused and missing from my memory. Making lists, in my opinion, can be very helpful to someone with manic depression or clinical depression — which distort reality — as a means of putting perspective into our lives. As proof I’m offering mine.
This is the first of three parts of The First 52 Places I Remember Living… mostly up until I move to The Big City on my own.
01) Pointe Claire (1970): It’s a suburb of Montreal, I was born here. Back in 2000, I actually worked with — and had a crush on — a woman who was born in the same hospital a few ours after me. It might have been a year and a few hours… I don’t actually remember 01 to 04.
02) Montreal (spring, summer 1970): My parents had a small apartment in a building populated mostly by “bikers” who kind of looked after me. My father was a teacher who managed to get himself fired just after I was born for reasons which, to this day, are just too fucking retarded to believe. Soon after we moved to his parents home in Gu3lph.
03) Gu3lph (summer, fall 1970) Paisley Street: From what I’ve been told this was not a comfortable living arrangement. My parents were looking after a Youth Hostel while living with my grandparents. Mom had a very hard time recovering from her pregnancy. The doctor told her another one could be fatal.
04) Gu3lph (fall 1970): My parents got their own place. It was a small apartment frequented by two of my uncles and their high school buddies where high level discussions on “What Must Be Done” were had. This is where the seeds for “the Coll3ctive” (fear the seeds) started. My father and grandfather decided to open a bookstore down the street.
05) Gu3lph (spring 1971) Eramosa: This one’s a little confusing to me… from what I understand my parents first apartment was on Eramosa as well, but this was a large two-storey brick home about halfway up the hill from downtown. This was the first, real “Coll3ctive House”. I believe my brother was born while living here. It took mom two years to recover.
06) Vancouver (1974?): My mom, brother and myself were sent to live with a Coll3ctive member in Vancouver with the intention of starting a branch office. Another woman came with us. I can remember the smell of the ocean and the chipmunks we fed in Bamff, National Park. There were some difficulties with the Coll3ctive so we were only there for six months before we hurriedly came back.
07) Toronto (1975?): The Coll3ctive was doing some contract printing work for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, so my brother, myself, my mother and another woman were moved to Toronto. As far as I can put together it was in “Little Portugal”. I do remember it was above a corner store and filled to the brim with roaches, although mom did a great job of hiding them from us.
08) Gu3lph (1975) Oliver: After a truly bizarre falling out between The Coll3ctive and the MLPC we were back in Gu3lph where they had moved into a second house. This is where one of the neighbourhood kids taught me how to ride a two-wheeler… he had a tricked out bike with a pretty large chop and a banana seat.
09) Gu3lph (1976) Ontario 01: I almost always get “Oliver” and “Ontario” streets mixed up. The Coll3ctive had taken in a huge family of children. I think there were eight boys. We were all in the same bedroom. I slept next to the window in a bed with another kid, but there were (I think) two triple bunk beds.
10) Gu3lph (spring 1975-76) Ontario 02: At some point it was decided that it was too dangerous for the kids to be living in The Coll3ctive house, so my brother and I were moved down the street to live with my aunt. This time period — 1975-77 — is my most difficult to remember, I was just being moved around too much.
11) Gu3lph (1977-78) Ontario 01: Crisis relatively over my brother and I ended up living with the Coll3ctive again. I can remember the smell of printing ink, fireworks in the backyard and the big, round wooden table in the dining room. We were allowed 30 minutes of television per week, so we watched “Emergency”. A drama about paramedics and firemen.
12) Little City Close By (August 1978-79) McGill: My mother left my father abruptly and took my brother and I about 600 miles north to an apartment above a garage in a pulp and paper mill-town. We had our first pets here. A couple of hamsters. They ate their way out of their cage. One came back, the other got into the carrots and gorged himself to death. I also remember having two kittens, but they must have been given away.
13) My Village (1980-81) High St.: The landlord had a crush on mom. We had the top floor of a very large two storey building. Landlord lived downstairs where he had a business as well. Mom’s boyfriend, a rug maker, gave me the Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit. They called me out from my bedroom and they were all laid out on the couch. He said it was a present and I was so excited… I still remember the weird look he got when I asked which one. I still have them.
14) Tiny Village Nearby (1982-83): The years get a little fuzzy for a while, but the order is right. This was where we got Darwin The Cat, and Logan The Dog. They stayed with us for about the next nineteen years. This was our first home in Super Real Authentic Really Rural Country. It was roughly twelve miles to the nearest grocery store. The landlords family were our neighbours, which was cool cause their three kids were girls. Mom dated a lawyer for a few years… I had/still have issues with him over the breakup.
15) Country Road (1984): Even deeper into The Bush. Some friends of moms were in Europe for a year so we house-sat. We were outside our school district but mom threatened a beat down on the school board to they relented. But my brother and I had to walk a couple of miles back into the district to catch the bus. Most of the time the driver had pity on us and came to meet us halfway. Our nearest neighbour was… well, far. This was where I got my own dog, a black Labrador named “Wizard”. A rabid fox came into the yard once when my brother was by himself, playing. Little Brother took off for the door and Logan and Wizard tore that little crazed fucking thing to pieces. There were fox bits twenty feet up a tree. After a six month semi-quarantine where they lived with chickens, and killed most of them — bad planning — they were both fine. Mom used to have dinner parties here for the local artists she had hooked up with… this region attracts a lot of them. [Note: This might actually be #17… we had to give up Wizard when we moved, and I think it was to #18]
16) Tiny Village Close To Quebec (1985): Nice place, water tasted like sulfur. We were renting from one of moms friends again. My brother and I got new bikes here, that part of the country is flat, flat and flat. I hated biking around there. We started picking up more animals at this point… three more cats, Agog, Klunker (whose back end was very rabbit like) and Scrapper, who was very angry and very small. Darwin was the leader. This is where I discovered “Tea For The Tillerman” and ‘Talking Heads’.
17) Teeny Tiny Village (1985-86): Moms boyfriend took us in. He was, mostly, a dickhead. When we were moving out (he didn’t want kids), after we had moved the last pieces into the car, he was being a bit of a dickhead to mom, so I went into the cutlery drawer and walked in with all the forks and asked mom if they were ours.
18) My Village (1986-88) Union: Back to town after a tour of the most rural parts of Canada. This is where I started dating seriously.
19) Ear Falls (1988): It took three days by bus to get there. I brought my mini-blaster, a sleeping bag and a backpack of clothes. I was barely eighteen living in a shack in the woods with thirteen men who had each done serious jail time, the next youngest of whom was 34. The camp I worked at was actually 45 miles north of Ear Falls. I was there for almost eight months. From beginning to end, every day was fucking crazy. Thankfully all of them adopted me, and never once tried to rape me. This was where, in my mind, I started exhibiting the symptoms of full blown manic depression… and smoking, and binge drinking.
20) My Village (fall 1988) Union: When I came back mom and my little brother were just finishing their move into moms new boyfriends place (Village 03) — extremely nice guy, two kids, great father. But I was not happy about that at all. I stayed in the old place for a few weeks until I ran out of food. Then I carried the fridge and a few large tables to the new place. He and mom got married fifteen years ago.
21) My Village (1989) Home: The most kick ass party ever thrown in our village was held here. I was dropping out of school, stoned most of the time, and binge drinking every weekend. People here, now — fuck, just a few weeks ago, still talk about The Party. I’ll write about it sometime… and the Ear Falls stuff.
22) Little City Close By (summer 1989): First time on my own. It was a rooming house owned by a couple of moms friends. Fucking crazy summer. I was running a day camp for kids aged 8-13, it was a project run by the city. I was also out all night drinking, smoking weed with friends… there were two Chinese Restaurants in town, and both families had sons my age. They fed me all summer. Awesome. This was when I tore my knee up… which was not awesome.
23) My Village (1989-90) Jay: I actually moved back Home for a few weeks, but that was not working. This was my first real apartment. Two bedrooms, I shared with a friend. I was stoned for a month straight… two of my friends were a couple of the largest dealers in this region — and that’s saying something. At one point I had a garbage bag of Vancouver’s Best Weed in my kitchen. We had these magic markers and when you walked in there was a closet for you to sign. My little brother (the former artist) drew a life sized Spiderman. Dave drew a huge cityscape being attacked by a giant blob and called it “Hostess Munchie Gone Bad.” Great place. Lots of “Risk”, cards and guitar playing. And sex. Lots and lots of sex.
24) Ottawa (1990) Sweetland: Girl difficulties and a need for a large change landed me in a rooming house in Sandy Hill, a student ghetto next to the University of Ottawa. I was living with two university students, they were my first female roommates. Fuck… see? Each one of these leads to something else. Each place I can remember living in leads to more memories after I’ve written about them. When they’re locked in my head I can’t focus long enough on each one individually, so they’re practically meaningless. I want to write 1000 words just on this apartment alone… fuck. I just wrote those two sentences and suddenly I’m reliving relationships and jobs and just the weird lunatic shit that happens. I’ve found these lists, as part of my recovery, to be invaluable.