My friend Ross moved to Montreal while I lived in this apartment. He worked down the street in a thriving bike shop and would often cycle by afterwards to drink on my balcony. It was a shared balcony, but no one else was ever out there. Across the street was a three floor building. The top two floors were occupied by a whole family. The two grandparents lived at the top and below them lived at least six people, uncomfortably I’m sure. My favourite thing to watch from that balcony was the oldest son unfold his Murphy bed every night, thinking to myself how awesome it would sort of be to unpack your bed like that every night.
Below the two floors of cramped family, at street level, was a girl who never shut her blinds and spent hours trying on different outfits in her mirror. Shit never got nude, but there was always that boozy, half-joking hope. It was an awkward situation: it seemed odd and prematurely guilty for Ross and I to go inside just because this girl didn’t close her blinds. And anyway, after being waved to one time it was clear she knew we were there—not necessarily watching, but there. One weekend this girl had an older woman we assumed was her mother visiting. When going to bed that night, we watched this old woman climb to a spot in the bedroom that was out of view, leading us to believe that this girl had all along had a bunk bed.
What would be better? Bunk or Murphy?
The apartment itself was forgettable, if somewhat dingy. My landlord was Hasidic and wouldn't look at the girl I was subletting from during the official meet-up. The
girlfriend I had at the time refused to stay over, being mostly bothered
by the old man below me who coughed up death every morning at exactly
08h30. Across the hall from me was a girl I was told was an outpatient
of some sort, and I was given the task by the person moving out of my
new apartment to notice when this girl
began piling all her stuff outside her door because this was a sign she
was getting ready to kill herself and I was to inform the landlord, who, though he'd never look at the suicide-prone woman, would ostensibly make the call that would save her life.
One last thing about the neighbourhood. Down the street, children would collect in front of one particular building. It was hard to tell which kids actually belonged there. One time, Ross and I overheard an exchange between a kid and her mother that confused us at first, but then became clearer. The little girl was taking interest in whatever drink her mom was drinking, and then was given a sip. Either thrilled or confused, the little girl announced—in a statement that’s still a source of hilarity between Ross and me—“It tas’es like Coke, mommy! It tas’es like Coke!”
I moved out, again a month early, when one of those aforementioned moody couples moved next door and would pound furiously through the wall if I made a peep after 10pm. I heard them fighting through the walls nightly, the dopey guy complaining that his girlfriend treated him like he was a fucking stupid child. “You make me feel like such a child,” he’d told her once, “And that’s why I can’t fuck you anymore. Okay? Jesus Christ.”