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  • jolwajda

The Grandbois.


I met Dawn when I moved neighbourhoods and started at my new elementary school. I remember riding my bike around the back dirt paths and walkways that connected the avenues together, checking out the new areas that surrounded me. I rode past this little grey-blue one story residence with a big bay window in the front. I thought it was the sweetest thing. Remember, I had just come from an abundance of brown brick with absolutely no distinguishing appeal or character, so the house was perfect to me. The first time Dawn invited me over to play, and she brought me to her house. The little grey-blue one story. I tried not to let my excitement show. I had just moved there. I didn't want to turn into the creepy new weird girl who is elated over a fucking bay window. But, all the light that would shine through while reading! All of the books I could get lost in! All of these years later, I still believe a bay window screams luxury. Dawn and I were pretty inseparable those early years of middle school. I spent a good chunk of my evenings at her place. I don't actually remember even taking my family dog (Juno) over to her house, but at some point, I must have. Juno was completely enamoured with her dog Sheba. Seriously though, anytime Juno got off leash from our backyard, he was gone. He would floor it right to Dawn’s place the next street over. It got to the point that we stopped panicking when it happened, sometimes not going to pick him up until the next day. And when I would get there, Juno would be sprawled out on the couch - something he never was allowed to do at my home. As I write this, I feel kind of dumb that I didn't see it before. It wasn't about Sheba at all, but about the perks that came with her. Red flag, Sheba. Red fucking flag. Dawn’s parents had a remote cabin at the lake. You could only get there by boat in the summertime, Ski-doo in the wintertime,or when the ice was frozen enough, a truck or car. But it had all the amenities and creature comforts one needed… Other than an indoor bathroom. There was a bucket to go pee off of the spare bedroom downstairs. It gets to temperatures of minus 45-50 in northern Manitoba. No one is going out to use the outhouse in the middle of the night in that weather. It's strange in my adult years having a nervous bladder, because I had no problem when I was a kid, getting up, dropping trou, and essentially peeing in the middle of the cabin into an industrial sized mayonnaise bucket. I started spending most weekends with them. It was a win for everyone. My parents got a break, and Dawn, who was an only child, had a friend to keep her entertained. Barney and his family owned Nickle City Motors, a marine shop in my hometown. The perks that Dawn and I got from that was unreal. Two eleven-year-olds ripping around the lake on brand new top of the line Ski-doos in the winter and Sea-Doos in the summer. Not to mention all the boating, tubing, and fishing we did on the lake. It was incredible. Dawn had a wicked sense of humour on her - very blunt, very funny. We laughed a lot. I imagine it’s why we got along so well. She definitely inherited it from her mother.

Bonnie's humour always reminded me of a mixture of Elaine from Seinfeld and Roseanne: quick and off-colour. My favorite. I remember being young and driving with her and Dawn in the car. I can't remember what I said. Probably something pretty stupid. But she looked at me in the rear-view mirror and said, “You're going to be a stripper when you grow up.” She would probably hate that I told that, and maybe doesn't even remember. But I thought it was the funniest shit. She used to treat me like an adult, and I loved it. I in fact did not become a stripper. But I do work for tips, so I guess we'll call it a draw. I was also with Dawn, Bonnie, and Barney when they signed the papers for a much larger, beautiful home on the main part of the lake to live year-round. We were on the way back to their remote cabin when Bonnie threw her head over the side of the boat dry-heaving, sticking her head up to look at us. “That's a LOT of money!” I found this hilarious as a kid, until I grew up, and I myself have swallowed down bile in my throat for much, much smaller amounts. So yes Bonnie, you were right. That was a lot of fucking money. I'm hoping to get to see Dawn in my travels. Obviously all grown up now - a lab technologist with a husband and three kids of her own. I wonder if those kids will realize just how lucky they are to be able to have such a rich childhood like the one Dawn and I had. I have a feeling they will. I also hope to see Bonnie and Barney. Actually I'm really hoping that they will take me out to a spot on the lake that is special to me to spread my dad's ashes. It just feels fitting, spreading my dad's ashes where I have so many fond memories of him and I, with two people that helped give me so many incredible memories on that very same lake. But if that doesn't pan out its ok. I do hope I get to sit around, have a beer and shoot the shit with them. Properly thank them for a fulfilling childhood full of adventure that I otherwise may have not had. Some of my fondest recollections of my hometown are because of them. I don't know about you but, I think that deserves a proper sit down, drink and some laughs on the water after all these years.


JW


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