Monday, December 21, 2009

Stirring the Emotional Embers at NT Air

Watching that video for the first time caused me to gasp – even though I knew from the news what I was about to see.

My Dad worked at NT Air for about 40 years, retiring just under two years ago.

I underestimated just how much that building was a piece of my identity until last night when I watched this. I’ve walked through that hanger more times than I could possibly count.

When I was in kindergarten my class did a field trip to the airport and we got to ride on a plane (never leaving the ground) and get a tour of the hangar and look at other planes. Most of those kids had never been on a plane before – if was a different time – though by then I was already taking them for granted. It was simply what Dad did.

Though I’d need to work with the schedule of their various charters, any time I’ve gone to Prince George in the years since I moved away I almost always would deadhead on one of their flights (sometimes running mail, other times shipping forestry personnel and equipment, sometimes riding with mining workers being shuttled home for their off-cycles) Dad would be waiting on the tarmac right outside of the building – pretty much exactly where the collapsing sheet metal falls in the video.

We’d walk on through the hanger and into the office like we owned it (indeed, Dad was a minority owner for a number of years) where I’d have a coke or coffee while Dad tied up whatever work he was doing. We’d possibly run an armload of mail to the postal plant or stop and do a company deposit at the bank on the way home.

When Dad retired in February 2007 the company flew a plane load of family and Vancouver based co-workers to Prince George for the party. The trip home would be my last time in the building. NT Air had put the name of their longest serving employee on one of their planes. We went early and took pictures of the plane.

I was going to be there again this coming Wednesday. But now that’s not going to happen. Our flight up for Christmas was cancelled – understandably. We now have to bus. But we will be there to fly home on Monday.

I’ve seen pictures of the blacked pile of ice covered debris that is where the building once stood. I’m not looking forward to standing beside it. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel. I’ve been looking forward to going home for Christmas for the first time in years (and for the last time in Dad & Kay’s house – which has recently been sold), but I can’t help but feeling that it’s going to be a bit different.

But no matter how I feel, someone else is going to feel worse. It appears as though, despite initial indications, that someone was caught in the fire. It’s going to be hard to not think about that family.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Movin' on up...!

By now this is more clarification than news...

About three weeks ago Jodie and I had joined some friends out at the Cambie for drinks.  As the night wore on I mentioned in a moment of drunken weakness that perhaps we should start thinking about moving in together.

At the time I was thinking in relatively long-view terms, thinking that I wanted to be 'over the hump' with the film and that we'd want to wait 'til after the Olympics anyhow, 'cause not only will vacancies probably go up then, but who would want to try moving during the months immediately surrounding the games.  I wasn't even really considering the possibility of moving earlier than that.  The New Year would be the earliest possible really, and who would want to have to deal with moving at Christmas - especially as we are going to my Dad's for the holiday.

We talked about it more seriously a few days later - when we didn't have a few pints in us and she pretty much echoed all of my thoughts on the timing.  We decided that 'yes' we'd start looking, but we were going to be patient and casual about it.

Jodie's idea of 'casual' surprised me and was less casual than mine.  She started looking regularly at ads, and sending me them.  While I did mention my surprise at how she dove in, I did nothing to stop her.  We both re-affirmed that we weren't rushing.  That we'd find the place that we loved first before giving notice and eat the extra cost - and not find ourselves desperate to find a place.  Patience was the order of the day.

Then about two weeks ago, Jodie found about three places in short order - all in Gastown - that seemed interesting.  Before we looked at any of them we agreed that this was all we'd do until the new year.  The first one we arranged to look at was in the new Woodwards' building.

The short version of the story is that we never looked at the other two.  To hell with patience.  To hell with avoiding moving in anywhere near Christmas.  This was the right place and the right price and we knew we had to pounce.

We had done our best from the moment we first made contact to put our best face forward, doing our best to connect with the landlords from the outset and to build rapport.  I mentioned that I had family who had worked in the original Woodwards' building at the perfume counter, and that on the night before they demolished the building a few years back I went and got pictures of the last sunset over Woodwards'.  I had also got pictures of it the next day too.  We emphasized (genuinely) that we are looking for a place for the long-term. "Til we buy or die" I said.

The day after they tore down Woodwards, this old fellow was heart-broken.
I hope he's still around to see what they have done with it.

When we left, I think we had both decided that we had to put our hats in the ring on this place.  We did go and talk about it for good measure, but I don't think there was much doubt in either of our minds.  When we got home we emailed them immediately with "$1.49 Day - Tuesday!" as the subject line.  For those of you unfamilar with Woodwards, Dollar Forty Nine Day was a regular Tuesday promotion in the old department store.

When Deanna emailed back, the first sentence of her email was "I love your subject line!"  It was at that point that I figured we were the first choice.

Sure enough, less than a day later we got the word.  It was ours.

So, let me clarify something that should be obvious if you are reading this - we are renting - leasing actually.  Some people took from my status updates that we'd bought.  Not so.  It is more of a commitment (a lease) than I've ever entered into though.

The building is pretty amazing.  The apartment is smaller than either of us would ideally like, but not to the point where we were scared off.  Indeed I don't think there are any one bedroom layouts in the building that are bigger.  The balcony adds rougly 30% to the square-footage, though that will be a summer thing.  The view is amazing!  I'll post pictures once I've got them.  And even better, it's all heritage buildings in that neighbourhood, so the view is going nowhere.

The residents' communal ammenities are better than any other place I've ever known of.  There are common things like a roof-top deck, a gym, and a party room.  But there is a media room (kinda common), a lounge, a library (a LIBRARY!?!), wireless internet and others.

On top of all that, there is a London Drugs, MY bank, a coffee cafe and of course the new Woodwards' Food Floor - re-opened after 15 years. (I went to the first $1.49 Day this past Tuesday to buy Woodwards' famous peanut butter.)  And we are a five or so minute walk from Waterfront Station, making getting virtually anywhere by transit as efficient as imaginable.

On top of it all - a teeny bit of kismet - the closest pub* is the very place where the discussion first began - The Cambie.

I'm ever so slightly anxious about leaving the neighbourhood I love, and the home I've lived in the second longest in my life, but I'm excited about Gastown, exited about the apartment, the building and of course, Jodie.

We move in on January 15th.  I'm packing already.

*Turns out I'm wrong.  The current closest pub is The Cambie.  There is actually going to be one closer.  Seeing as The Cambie actually sits in the shadow of the Woodwards building, getting closer actually requires being in the complex - which it will be.