When Craig and I first moved out together we rented this tiny little apartment on the third floor of a complex in a less-than-desireable area of town.
It wasn't cozy, it was cramped. One of those places where you can only have one person in the kitchen at any one time. And you can't open a lower cupboard and the fridge or dishwasher at the same time.
None of our things fit, we had to sleep on the tiniest bed (translation: I like to sprawl and Craig woke up many a night with my foot in his ribs or elbow in his eye... although in my defense, he snored an awful lot and, therefore, I feel, had it coming).
And every month or so some homemade chef with a bad case of the munchies would burn their batch of 'special brownies' at 2 am, setting the fire alarms off, and causing a mass evacuation in the midst of a blizzard.
Ah, the good times.
Eventually I couldn't handle it any more and begged and pleaded until Craig gave in and we moved into our current home. I could not have been happier to see that place in my rearview mirror.
It struck me as so odd that Craig insisted on going around taking photos of the apartment right before we moved. He later explained to me that he had enjoyed the misery of our little apartment, that he loved that we would have this to compare everything to for the rest of our lives, and that we could tell our kids the story of how we survived this place much in the same way our fathers bragged about walking 20 miles to school, uphill both ways.
Given the proximity of that apartment to our new home, we often ended up driving by the complex on the way to and from work. Whenever they were renting they would put up balloons and a sign. Given Calgary's low vacancy rate in recent years, the sign wasn't up that often. But when it did show up, it proudly declared:
"BRAND NEW apartments! Now renting!"
For some reason, this struck me and Craig as utterly hilarious. For starters, the place was hardly as shiny and bright as the sign optimistically made it out to be. The walls had a special I've-been-smoked-in hew and the carpet had that wonderful most-frequently-used-path worn out between the couch and refridgerator. And lets not forget the broken glass strewn throughout the parking lot from many a midnight drunken escapade courtesy of our colorful neighbours.
But the real kicker had to be the 'BRAND NEW' part of that sign. They weren't anything close to new when we lived there five years ago so I'm not exactly sure how they managed to get away with this generous little adjective.
Whenever we would drive by and the sign was up, we would try to beat the other to the punch and shout, "BRAND NEW!" at the top of our lungs. Inevitably we would both crack up, howling with laughter over that ridiculous sign.
Well I guess the Calgary housing crunch is easing slightly because that dang sign has been up more and more lately. And no matter what my mood is, who I'm with, or what I'm talking about the very sight of it is enough to bring on a tidal wave of grief.
I hate that we had so many more fun times together that we'll never get to experience.
We'll never laugh at that sign again and no matter how well I might explain the joke, nobody else will ever find it as funny as we did.
And I do so miss our jokes.
I miss the way we would laugh and laugh until we cried.
I miss how Craig would act do or say anthing, keeping at it relentlessly, just to make me smile.
I miss my buddy.
I miss my friend.