Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jelly Beans, Jeans, and Memories

I wish I was rich enough to have been able to fork out the money to save and fix the Jelly Bean apartments in Saint John. 

I used to live in the red one on the first floor, at street level, with my living room windows at face level of passers-by.  I absolutely got used to people staring in as they walked by, lol!  I LOVED this apartment.  It had so much character inside, and from what used to be a parking lot across the street, so much entertainment outside!!  (Oh the things I saw!!) 

Not to mention the fact that it was about a 30 second walk to work, literally.  It was also crawling distance from the pubs and the nightclubs uptown too!  (SJ actually had a kickass nightlife back then.)

Soooo many memories in that building. 

That was where a bunch of us would get together to drink before hitting the pubs, the clubs and the late night drunk food.  O'Leary's, Gargoyles, King of Donair, oh my!

Where I had, consecutively, two of the best roommates/brothers ever, living with me.  Colin, who was like an extra brother but without the fighting.  Then Darren, my actual brother, who returned to the Maritimes after a few years in Edmonton, and settled in as my roomie.

How could you not get along with this guy?!

Where we had countless before-going-out parties, dinner parties, chilled out on a Sunday morning, watched movies, talked about boyfriends and girlfriends, and overall contemplated life.

Where two of my dearest friends, Sherry and Jeff​'s story began.  It is where she got into his pants (her favourite story that gets a reaction).  Literally.  She liked the jeans he was wearing and wanted to try them on.  Apparently those were the right jeans to wear that day because if you fast forward to today, those two married and became three.  And they are still going strong.

Where there was the best (ok, only) walk-in closet I have ever had.  Sometimes I would just go and stand in it and look around and think, "Holy shit!  I have a full on walk-in closet!"  (Hey - it's the little things, folks!)

Where sometimes my parents would come up on a weekend on either a planned or a surprise visit and we would stroll down to the City Market (a 45 second walk, hahaha!).  They inevitably would buy me a treat at the market or take me out somewhere for lunch, or many times, both!  (Seriously kids, if you want to be an adult who still gets spoiled by the 'rents, MOVE AWAY!  The further away you live and the longer between visits, the higher the spoil factor when you are together.  Trust me.  I KNOW these things!  Tell the others!  But I digress...)

Where, if my windows were open, my friends and coworkers would shout "good morning" or "see ya tomorrow" at me on their way to or from work.  Or sometimes they would stop at the windows to chat before continuing on their way.  Some were so comfortable with it that if I was not in sight, they would shout in to get me to come out from whatever other room I was in.

Where some even stopped at the windows to chat with my parents or grandmother if they happened to be up on one of those visits.

Where friends and strangers alike would stop to talk baby-talk to my cat if she was in the windowsill taking in all the action.

Where I dragged a huge, seven-foot Christmas tree in, all by myself and managed to put it UP all by myself, laying on the floor trying to hold it straight with one hand, while trying to secure the screws of the stand against the trunk with my other hand (while the string of words I mumbled to myself were more colourful than a string of Christmas lights).  Then a few weeks later, got back on the floor, managed to unscrew it without it falling on me, finally dragging it back out all by myself again to reload it back into my SUV and lug it away to the dropoff (I am woman, hear me roar, bitches!).

Where I first started to think of myself as being "from Saint John" because my longer explanation about being "from Moncton but have lived in Saint John for __ years because..." was fading away.

It was where I LIVED.

And it was the last place I lived before leaving for Japan after which, nothing would ever be the same again.

Yes, we were sober in this picture.  Less sober than an hour before the pic, but more sober than an hour later...

After living abroad, then in Ontario, thus having been gone for a decade, I decided to go back to Saint John.  But the saying that you can never go back again was sadly a bit true for me.  Life was different now, I was no longer single, neither were my friends, and many things or places from my "first life" in SJ were no longer.

What really drove this home and took my breath away was the first time I walked down Wellington Row after returning, and stopped in front of my living room windows from before.  That is when I realized no one lived there anymore, things were in a state of disrepair, and I wondered how long this had been the case.  I wondered if anyone with the means would open up these apartments again.  It just seemed wrong to see them vacant and silent except for the whispers of our laughter inside and the ghosts of the times we had.  It was a stark reminder of the passage of time and the inevitability of change.

Change is inevitable, but demolition is not.  It would have been good to see these buildings have new life breathed into them, to allow them to change too instead of disappear into dust.

If only the money had been there.