Yesterday, I decided to roam my original neighbourhood of North Park for a rush of nostalgia. Here, I occupied the same building for the entirety of the four or so years I first lived in Victoria (2004-2008). The building was in the early stages of decay: the hardwood floors were so trashed that they’d frequently implant your soles with shards of wood; the rear balcony was missing wooden boards and was on the verge of collapsing; the windows wouldn’t stay open without being propped up by assorted objects (mainly dollar store candle holders).
Do you think my former neighbours had rock art gardens? Oh, no.
They were more like the type to break into cars and steal children’s down vests. If not that, then they were the type to climb into their truck, slam the windowless driver’s seat door, speed off to the office supply store where they’d then purchase orange paper. Once back at home, they’d aggressively rip open the package, stick a few sheets into their inkjet printer, boot their desktop PC, open a word processor, angrily mash at the keyboard until their rage forms a note worthy of sticking on a telephone pole. They were also the sort to forget to buy a stapler from the office supply store and use excessive packing tape as an alternative.
It was in this neighbourhood where a tree festooned with baby doll parts stood.
I lived with the person responsible for decorating this tree. This roommate also kept binoculars in the living room so that she could get the phone number off the sign for the Chinese takeout place a block down the street instead of writing it down somewhere.
The point is: I lived with and around weirdos during my still-formative years. No wonder I’m the way I am.
Anyway, this is what the building looked like then (2006).
This is it now:
It got quite the facelift: new windows, repainted exterior, and a whole new rear balcony. The doll parts that once hung from the tree out front had all been aborted. The light socket at the front balcony was devoid of the red lightbulb that this then-roommate had installed years ago. The whores are no longer in.
It was tempting to knock on the door and request a tour.
“I lived here for four and a half years, the longest I’ve ever stayed in one building in my adult life, and I was wondering whether I could have a look-see inside.”
“At least tell me if the creepy crawl space is still there?!”
Alas, I am not bold enough to do such a thing.
I briefly considered how creepy I must have looked as I lurked around the perimeter taking photos, then I realized that I just fit in.
As I continued down the street, I passed a little white boy wearing a Tupac tee. I hope as a 35-year-old deaf white lady that I’m more familiar with Tupac’s lyrics than this kid. I mean…
“First off, fuck yo’ bitch and the clique you claim
Westside when we ride, come equipped with game
You claim to be a player, but I fucked your wife.”
That’s the North Park neighbourhood of Victoria for ya. I now live within the horse-drawn carriage and pedicab circuit. American tourists pay good money to listen to guides prattle on about the accomplishments of colonialists in my current neighbourhood.
It won’t be long before my North Park roots surface, and I start trolling those tourists. I could walk behind the horse-drawn carriages wearing a Camilla Parker-Bowles mask and beg for spare change with a knockoff Philip Treacy hat.
I love my current neighbourhood, but after yesterday’s throwback tour, I realized that I left my heart in North Park. In that creepy crawl space of my old building, probably.
The same can be said for the aforementioned ex-roomie: