Audra owned a house on Bilby Street in the North End of Halifax when I met her, and I lived with her there from spring 2006 until the beginning of 2007.
Then she moved to Ottawa to start working for the Canadian Union of Public Employees at the same time that I got my own place in Halifax (sheerly because I was coming out of a nine year relationship in my mid-20s and had never lived alone), and after we did what you might call “the long distance thing” for a few months, and two of the three jobs I refer to in the intro track all ended for various reasons (record store closed; contract with youth drop-in reached maximum extension), I decided to hold my breath and live a little and move away from the only place I’d ever called home.
Audra found a sublet in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood of Ottawa, on Nelson and Laurier. Even though we had cats back in Halifax, Zoe and Sam (in the video) were being watched by the kids Audra was renting her house to, and we had to live with this weird subletted cat named Pooks. Pooks hated us. Pooks’s litterbox was on a balcony. It was probably not super fun being Pooks.
After four or five months like that, though, Audra’s job at CUPE shifted into a similar position at the regional office in Edmonton, Alberta. We didn’t really have roots in Ottawa that were hard to pull up, and Edmonton is my ancestral homeland on my father’s side and CUPE uh pays really well which was good because I was making only about seventy-five bucks a week as a newspaper columnist (writing about Halifax hip-hop for a Halifax paper, living in different provinces; scared to come clean) and less than THAT as a rapper.
Once again Audra found an apartment. I flew out to make sure it was as good as it looked online, and it was. We swooped back to Halifax to pick up the cats and have a release show for Verba Volant so I guess it was only autumn of 2007? That show was AMAZING. Sam escaped out my old apartment’s window though and we had a scary night looking for him and trying to figure out if we were going to miss our flight or what. Then he was under some stairs, like an idiot. It was okay.
We moved to 80th Street in Edmonton. It happened to be the street my father grew up on, which we didn’t learn until later. There are a lot of different streets in Edmonton, so this felt providential. For some reason. Our apartment was SUPER WEIRD - two of the listed “bedrooms” were literally too small to fit beds into if you wanted, so one of them became my studio and the other a TV closet. The bedroom was on a higher level and had an interior window that clearly used to be exterior, overlooking the living room/foyer.
The lease had a clause that said no-one under the age of eighteen was permitted to stay the night, and that if one of us should become pregnant whilst living there, we would have to vacate within two weeks of finding out. Fortunately that didn’t really impact any plans of ours, but I was annoyed that IF my sister had come to visit, I would have had to make her sleep on the porch!
We lived in Edmonton for eleven months, which was about enough time to be done with it even though we loved some people there, and Audra had opportunities to go forward with CUPE in either Ottawa or Toronto. We weren’t sure which one to go with - I was hoping to go to school and become a more desirable freelance writer (more desirable AS a freelance writer; not a more SEXUALLY desirable freelance writer), and either city had college courses that would help. We had friends and allies in each city, but then - as always; as now - Toronto intimidated me, and we decided Ottawa would work maybe even just slightly better for us.
So Audra found another place online, and one of our friends/allies went to take a look at it and confirm it was not at the time of rental on fire or anything, and we moved to Anderson Street. Right where Little Italy blends into “Chinatown,” the Vietnamese/Korean/Japanese/Indian neighbourhood in Ottawa. We lived together there with our cats for three years, I think.
I worried when we were working on the song that the segment would become obsolete/incomplete. Then, later, I worried that we would never finish the song at all. I’m relieved that we did finish the song, but I wish very intensely that we had had the opportunity to make the list of places we have lived together obsolete.
The song is so sweet and yet so difficult to take now. I thought about changing the name of it to “Bring Your Best Friend To Rap Day,” but it’s not like we ever weren’t best friends since we first started talking in 2004. So why change anything? Nothing in the song is less true now than it ever was.
It’s a very true song.