In 1997, I was working at the Bleach Factory and my back was getting worse, not better. My mom made a good point about how the body can only take so much and then it starts to break down. When I say that the labour at the bleach factory was back-breaking, I don’t think I ever meant it strictly literally but I guess I was at the point where something wanted to give.
My back has never been my best friend but I would go home and struggle to sit properly because of the discomfort. So, I decided, eventually, that physical labour could not be a lifelong career for me. Not that I wasn’t doing a good job there — Wayne, the manager of the factory, once asked me, “So, what are you doing for the next forty years?”
So, when the only work I’d ever done was labour work and that kind of work was reaching the tipping point for me, I decided it was time to get some education. This decision was a hard one but once I made it, everything fell into place. Aside from the fact that I switched majors and career paths before even applying to the university. As my tenure at the bleach factory slid past and I took on odd jobs at the Hire-a-Student the problem of logistics began to raise its fearsome head. in short, I needed a place to live down there.
Enter: road trip.
The good thing about my decision to go to Lethbridge was that I had three friends who were already attending. And we decided we would get a place together. Sean and I went down over the weekend and Brad and Daryl were to join us on the Monday. Sean assured me that we could stay with his friend, Dylan. That was a good plan until we got to Lethbridge and it turned out that Dylan’s brother was getting married that weekend. We were able to spend a night in Dylan’s house.
It was a terrifying night. I had to get up and use the facilities in the middle of the night and I found myself stuck, on the way back to my spot on the floor, in pitch darkness, with no idea of which way was which. I was lost and I kept bumping into what I could only assume was the water heater. Eventually, after contemplating whether it would just be too weird to drop to the floor and sleep right there and deciding that it would, I navigated the path back to the main room in the basement. After that, it was a simple matter of not choosing the wrong spot and cuddling with Sean. I was successful and Sean went successfully unsnuggled all night.
It had been a stretch for Dylan to put us up that one night, since his brother and sister-in-law-to-be had people staying at his parents’ house. Sean assured me that there was someone else who would put us up, a pair of sisters he was friends with, presumably through Dylan, but on that point, I’m not entirely sure.
Before trying to contact them, though, we found out that they were out of town until the next day. Craig, who was yet another friend who lived in Lethbridge year-round, was likewise out of town. We didn’t worry too much about it. We hung out that day at the University. Eventually, it was time to figure out what to do for the night. But we didn’t. We just found some comfortable seats at the university and went to sleep.
I’d never considered the idea of sleeping in a public place before. Even looking back at it now, I have to shake my head. Nothing happened to us and I would be shocked if the potential for anything worse than, say, getting kicked out by security even existed, but the fact that I was able to get comfortable enough to fall asleep really surprises me. I do remember spending most of that night reading but I also know that I spent some of the night sleeping. Maybe I was more able to sleep because of the fitful night I’d spent in Dylan’s basement. Nevertheless, we made it through the night and Lauren and Alaina were scheduled to be back in town that day so we wouldn’t have to do this again, at least.
This is where things get complicated for me. I remember, for sure, that I threw up in the front entrance of a house we were looking at. Brad and Daryl were there so I’m fairly sure that wasn’t the first time. I know it wasn’t the last time because I ran outside and finished the job on the front lawn.
But I remember throwing up at Lauren and Alaina’s as well. They were really nice and understanding and I managed to keep everything to their toilet. But I’ll talk about the house first.
I wasn’t feeling well. I could feel myself getting worse. But I thought I could fight it off. When it comes to fighting off the nausea, I’m a champion. But it wasn’t working. So I headed to the door with my hand over my mouth. Unfortunately, I used the hand covering my mouth to open the door. I think it’s pretty needless to expound on that. But later, when some of the room mates that were living in the house at the time came in, one guy stepped around me, saying, “Woah! Who puked?!”
From the floor, where I was cleaning up my shame, I said, “Hi, I’m Liam.”
As far as introductions go, I guess it was a little less than ideal. I don’t think we were going to get the place anyway but that pretty much cemented it.
Sean and I left the next day. I was sick and I wanted to be home, so we left Brad and Daryl to find a place.
They did a good job, too. We ended up in a cooperative town house sharing a $500/month rent. Compare that to the $400/month that Jake and I were paying for a two-bedroom apartment in CrimeVille, Edmonton, and you have a winner. Granted, it was on the northernmost tip of Lethbridge, just about as far from the university as you could get, and most mornings the air would smell like boiled chicken but I really couldn’t find a legitimate complaint about the place.