My drives to work typically consist of thoughts of the coming evening and a good chunk of prayer. This morning, however, had me revisiting the seven months or so where I transitioned from living on my own for the first time through ’til I was practically living on the street and subsequently moved back in with mom on an Indian reservation. Do I have your undivided attention?
The year was 1996 and I was about to turn 20. Mom had moved north the prior fall and my time was up living with my drummers parents so I got my very own first place. A basement suite just off Whyte Ave in south Edmonton, and I shared it with a revolving door of four total strangers with emphasis on the word strange. There were 4 bedrooms and we all shared the kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities. I rarely saw any of them to be honest except Ray.
Ray was a classic alky. Incessantly drunk, reminiscing of his ex-wife and the life they once shared. Sometimes he would recruit me to chauffeur him to the liquor store in his big ol’ boat. I can’t recall if his wife took him back or what but he moved out and an Asian coke dealer moved in. The other two yocals consisted of a sketchy near homeless man who rarely left his room and an obese gay phone sex operator who seemed friendly enough. An eclectic band of roomies one might say.
Living in Edmonton was introduction to a whole new bunch of pot smoking, beer drinking, metal loving friends including Dave whom I would later room with. My original band had split minus my drummer Scott, and with Dave interested in doing vocals and his left handed guitarist friend Brad into the idea we began jamming.
It was at this time that I graduated from living with strangers to my own first real place. Even closer to Whyte Ave, the basement suite was tiny but I frigging loved it because it was my space and mine alone. In time this would become a haven a many drunk/stoned nights and sales of all the booze I was stealing from my part-time job at a liquor store. Dave and I would either sell the bottles or trade for weed. About a month or so in, Dave would be often crashing on my couch either with a girl or solo while I and whatever girl I was with, were in the bedroom. Living with Dave became a thing and that right there may have been the beginning of my downfall to alcoholism, theft, malnutrition and ultimately homelessness.
Now, I’m a firm believer in remembering your roots and the whole “this is why I am who I am” chestnut. That’s not to say I’m not a different man then I was at that certain period of my life. Being almost thrust into my adulthood with my mom selling the house and moving away I survived. I never thrived. I made one bad decision after another. On my own merits, when focused I did just fine. I moved on up! But in surrounding myself with the wrong people and excess drugs and alcohol, the result became the same.