Jade Dunlop: The Old Apartment

Editor’s Note: One of my favourite people on this Mudball fills in for the missing Nadia Elkharadly today with a personal and bittersweet recollection of a much loved time and place. Welcome her back to DBAWIS, and enjoy a great read from a great writer. Ms. Jade “Pie” Dunlop may visit us here anytime she likes….

PieWe like to think of the past as something ancient – something so untouchable that it comes across as unfathomable to our present minds. Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia;  these are thousand year old dynastys that we discover soley though textbooks and the odd Wikipedia article. However, in all realistic possibilites, our past is merely seconds behind us. The moment you started reading this article is now the past. Will you ever get it back? No. Thus the unstoppable current of time keeps sweeping us off into the distant ocean of the future. Yet, it still feels so unreal. There is no proof to show that you are 30 seconds older than you were since you began reading. Your computer is still the same. Your home still feels as it did when you began. No empires have risen and fallen. No moons drifted out of orbit. The past stills feels like it is measured only in  millennia – not seconds. However, the past is always closer than we think.

Beatrice and CollegeNever so much have I experienced this phenomenon than when I visited one of our old apartments – 174 Beatrice St – near College and Bathust.

When we, (Bob and I), left in 2010, it was just like any of the other lodgings humans tend to vacate during their lives. One day our landlord told us his family was selling the building – an old, 1930’s walk-up in which we occupied the ground floor flat – and we were instructed to move. At the time, our minds were filled with the anxiety of finding a new place  – the hopes for a new floor plan and bigger bedrooms. Would this new apartment have a balcony? Will the landlord check our credit? Like many downtown transients, we were always focussed on ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 08 00.03the future. Within days, we found a lovely home in the albeit dispicable area of Weston and Black Creek Dr – always were our eyes fixed on the horizon, hoping new hopes and dreaming new dreams within the walls of our new home. Always forward, never backward.

Yet still, as many often do, I suffered a cathartic urge to visit the “old neighborhood.” Just by chance, of course, I found myself, just a year later, strolling down College st. – very close to the place where we once lived. I was excited to see who lived there now; If I would be able to tell who they were by the new window coverings or the car parked in the alley. Did they have children? Were they rich? Who were they? Who were these people sharing the space we once occuped? As I rounded the bend on College heading west to the apartment, I came to the soul-shaking discovery that no one live there at all.
No, the apartment was not vacant.
No, the building had not been demolished.
In the mind of any “revisitor” it was much, much worse.

Our apartment was now a Starbucks.


I entered the “cafe” through what was once our front door. In what was once our kitchen sat a girl in a crochet’d baret sipping a Chai Latte and reading a vintage copy of the Kinsey Report. Our former bathroom was full of Abercrombie-clad college students, complete with typewriters (of all things), sipping Pike Place Roast Coffees and discussing Dostoyevsky’s effect on the Twilight generation. The living room had been turned into a kitchen full of minimum-wage employees (with amazing benefits, I might add…) sarcastically critizing their patrons in the most main-stream downtown coffee-house fashion that could be Shockimaginable.

I was in shock.


My first instinct was to grab all of their grande-no-foam-double-espresso-half-fat-lattes and toss them directly into their smug faces and order them all off the premises.

Beatrice and College KitchenHOW DARE THEY! How dare they enter the sanctity of OUR APARTMENT! This is where we lived! LIVED! This is where we made breakfast! This is where we wached TV! This is where we showered! This is where we recieved bills we would never pay! This is where we had mice and we didn’t want to kill them so we got the landlord to give us humane traps filled with peanut butter! This is where I got pissed off and threw french fries at pumpkin-spice-latte-sign-the wall and then ate them off the ground because I was too lazy to make dinner! This is where Bob surprised me with an MP3 player/radio even though we couldn’t afford it and then I made sure it played “Sister Christian” every freaking morning! This is where we loved and hated and laughed and cried and dreamed and despised and now ALL YOU WANT IS NO WHIPPED CREAM ON YOUR FUCKING PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE!!

I stood in awe of all the people who had no idea of what this place meant to me.

hipsters_coffeeThey sat there drinking their coffees, absent-mindedly skyiping on their laptops, texing to their BFFS4EVR and giving no thought to the amazing souls that occupied that space before they did.

I stood there in their present, but also in my past. And there was nothing I could do to make the two eras conjoin. There was nothing I could do (that wouldn’t get me arrested) that would show them just how sacred was the space they now enjoyed.

Tears flowed down my cheeks.
The girl behind the counter asked me what I wanted.
I could only answer “what was once mine.”

I left quickly and ran down College st.  – still crying angry tears. They knew nothing. They will never understand.

I ran and ran until my last breath escaped my lungs and I was forced to stop – sweaty and sad on a bench near Clinton st. This place was ours! I sad on a benchknow we left, but something inside of me still needed that ownership.

As I sat, alone in the cold autumn breeze, I watched many couples, no less in love as Bob and I were when we lived there, strolling the Little Italy Strip in search of some romance. Upon entering a restaurant, one young lady remarked to her beau “Aw, my favourite restaurant!” He replied “You know it’s our place!”
OUR place.
Our. Place.


Millions of people have graced this land since it came into existance, and each one of them thought it was “theirs”. In reality, we don’t so much own a place as take care of it for the next occupant. But what we do own are the memories associated with it. No hipster with an iPad will ever be able to take away the beautiful memories I shared in that apartment. They’ll never understand them (as you will never understand the history of the place in which you read this article), but they’ll never diminish their value – only add to it’s ongoing history. For all I know, maybe crochet-beret girl will one day cast a sly glance at Dostoyevsky-loving college-kid, resulting some day in a famliy…a family that will one day consider that Starbucks “theirs”; My happy memories will meld with theirs – and all others – making it “Ours”; For Mine today will be Yours tomorrow.

Starbucks Your PlacePhysical places can come and go, but the impressions we leave on them and the impressions they leave on us can last a lifetime; Mine, Yours and Ours, as they will be many in the course of their existance.

I therefore extend an open invitation to anyone visiting Toronto: If you ever find yourself at College st. and Beatrice st., Please, if you have the time, drop into OUR place for coffee.


Jade guests here at DBAWIS occasionally

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS Button“I am different
Some say I am strange
but I’m just an original
and I shall not change”
^ a poem I wrote in the 6th grade.
 A character that cannot begin to be summed up in the 6 sentences that comprise the byline can be capsulized in two words: Jade Dunlop.

3 Responses to “Jade Dunlop: The Old Apartment”

  1. Mark Vukovich Says:

    PIE….you like Pie don’tcha…? I do….! Good writing young lady…but don’t be too sad….I am inclined to offer you a Xanax

  2. I know the feeling – so many times – but never expressed it so well. Thx ML

  3. The highs and lows of human emotion etch the time and space in which they are experienced. Bob: you remember the “CHOM ghost” at the house on Greene Avenue in Montréal where a man had committed suicide prior to the radio station moving in. The presence of a miserable and tortured soul was palpable prior to the exorcism. (Ask many of those who worked there night or day.) On the lighter side, the lingering spirit of the good and the bad times, and the intense emotions experienced with each of those extremes at your former home, were obviously very real for Pie… and, in my case, for the reader. I had a fleeting glimpse of a ghostly apparition of the two of you which sadly was quickly swallowed up in the hissing, milky steam of a nascent Caffè Latte.

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