By 26, I had moved over 30 times. I wanted to own a home but my wage as a part-time banquet server made that unrealistic until my friend, Walter Lewyck, let me know of a house for sale across the street from his in North Point Douglas.
I was scared at first. The neighbourhood had a terrible reputation. I was told I would have trouble even getting house insurance. But Walter assured me I would love the quiet neighbourhood and its diverse inhabitants. Best of all, the asking price for the 120-year-old, 2,400-sq.-foot house was $27,000 ($200/month).
Point Douglas ruins you for anywhere else. There I feel comfortable and safe -- at "home." Sometimes it feels like the street is my living room; my house is my bedroom, my neighbours are my roommates and we all live together in a little bubble the city forgot. Neighbours here are watchful yet unobtrusive, honest but respectful, private and unaffected. I remember one afternoon a few years ago after a "heated" argument on my front porch with a friend -- "North End style", shouting and flailing around, she left and I went inside. Half an hour later, I came back out to find that some anonymous neighbour had left two bottles of beer on my front step. In other neighborhoods someone might have called the police.
A roommate once said, "You talk about Point Douglas likes like it's a friend you've known for a long time'. And I do. I've often caught myself saying "P.D. won't like that" or "well, we'll see what Point Douglas has to say about that..." Certainly it is the sum of its parts but also it is an entity unto itself, complete with brain, body and heart. After two failed marriages and a myriad of messy relationships, I have realized that it is PD who I really love -- kind and generous, popular, consistent, complicated and genuine, welcoming, tough, funny, messy and fiercely loyal -- everything I'd been looking for in a partner. I am married to Point Douglas now; it is my family. It changes and we grow together.
My life is very hectic; I own a restaurant; I work long hours and rarely take days off, but every Sunday afternoon "no matter what" the NOPODOSOCO (North Point Douglas Social Committee) hosts a picnic in our beautiful Michaëlle Jean Park. There, we gather beside the river for a few hours and share a meal. The food is generally quite elaborate and picnickers can be a little competitive about the snacks they bring to share. Challenges are made, themes proposed. Laughing, playing with the dogs, catching up from the week and watching the neighbourhood kids running around in shoes that don't fit, falling down, being kids.
I admit, this particular flavour of living does not suit all tastes; but for us, equally sweet and salty, Point Douglas is delicious. It's not for everyone -- which is maybe why I love it so much.
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