It was spring of ’96 and I was working at both the liquor store and a gas station. For where I was mentally at the age of 20 I was doing rather well for myself, not to mention the side income I had going. Dave had basically moved in. We frequented bars on Whyte and our go to was Rebar, a two floor metal establishment where we would go on nightly “whore (hew-er) tours” and drink 75 cent beers.
I had 2 kittens at this point: a black male named Cheech and a pretty grey girl Storm. I only mention them because one night in coming home I feared for their lives, all nine of them. Dave had left Rebar early and had decided to boil something on the stove (Itchiban, I believe). When I came to the entrance of my basement suite I saw smoke billowing up the stairway. Upon opening the door there was smoke everwhere coming from a burner on the stove. And there was Dave.. passed out on my couch. My poor kitties and Dave could have died that night but luckily I brought my inebriated ass home just in time.
This event triggered a bizarre sense of not caring about my beloved underground lair any more. I stopped paying rent, stopped cleaning and we began planning our next move, quite literally. Dave and I found a cool hard wood floor main level of a big house, you guessed it, just off Whyte. Actually this time it was closer to the University than anything. I felt bad for my ex-landlord as we left the place in shambles but ultimately the sense of moving on superseded any bad feelings of what was left behind.
This was nothing more (or less) than a party house. It was around this time that I was let go from the liquor job under means of “suspicion of theft”. Fitting enough and no trouble would come to me. I somehow still held down the gas station position while staying up all night most nights and sleeping all day. With hair down past my nipples, being surrounded by Dave and other new friends, all with shaved heads, I took the plunge and sheared my head naked. We walked around in our combat boots, did drugs, drank, broke into vehicles and were mainstays at the Rebar. We paid the first months rent but that was it. By our fifth week there, the eviction notice on our door was no shock. We let the place go gradually and began to regroup, our next destination being even closer to Whyte and with a house full of skinheads who called themselves N.A.B.O.B. (northern Alberta brotherhood of beerdrinkers.. yes, lame).
Quickly, any semblance of my adult independence was being stolen from me. More accurately I was on my knees, surrendering it willfully. For the first time I felt feelings of loss of control and it was scary. Here I was with almost a closet as a room with a foam mattress as a bed in a home with tough ass dudes in leather nabob jackets that clearly weren’t big fans of Dave and I staying amongst them, especially when Dave slept with “Ogre’s” girlfriend. That ended in a fist fight out on the front lawn with Dave tuck tail and leaving. I flew the coop in the morning.
With a hockey bag of clothes and a few effects, and my cat Cheech (an aquaintance had taken Storm before all this mess) we were officially homeless. Over the next month or so things would deteriorate even more and my welcome with lesser known friends would have me choosing between death or rehabilitation, the latter seeming impossible. My attempts at criminal behaviour would increase, as my desperation followed suit. I was fast becoming someone that in a million years I would never have guessed I’d become.