Our journey begins, I started above the treeline but my goal was the mountain range just off to the right of the city line.

Sometimes it's really strange how a small, insignificant decision, in the end leads to a life changing event of major proportions.

In early April 1998, this is what happened to me, and the events that I was about to encounter, would not only carry me thru to the next decade, but bring me to where I am now and shape a good part of my adult persona.


The long road I had to trek to get to anywhere worth going.

I take you back to the Thursday directly before Good Friday 1998, I am at my parents house, where I still lived at this point, still in the middle of my year of partying between the end of school and going out, selling out and finding a real job, well a full time job. The unfortunate part of working part time was really the lack of money, and to top it off, at this point being engaged to a high maintenance, highly demanding, very motivated but extremely controlling woman had cleared me out of not only money but temporary sanity. I needed me time, which was apparently forbidden. But having finally found my balls again, I bravely cast aside my red headed dictator and realized I had a strong need for one of my other loves in life, tequila. But having been totally broke as aforementioned, this created an issue. I looked around
and realized how I could achieve my quest for my bitter, golden mistress. I had a large library of SNES games I was no longer using...and knowing Microplay, a video
game store on the other mountain, gave pretty damn good coin for SNES games, I packed up and embarked on my grueling path down one mountain, a good 35 minutes walk, to a bus stop, from which would take 45 minutes to get to the downtown of the sacred city and from there to trek thru the ghetto to another bus stop, for another 30 minute bus ride to Microplay.


The now deceased Microplay, not the one in this story, but only image I could find.


the Holy Grail of this sad sad quest.

Now the walk down the mountain was very uneventful, as was the wait for the bus.
However everything started to take an odd turn when my best friends Tom and Ray,
got on the same bus about half way thru Dundas. They were off to the final closing
out sale of the Kmart at Centre Mall, which was the complete opposite way I was
going, once we hit downtown. They pleaded with me to go with them instead and
made a promise that we could still do both, as there is a bus that leaves the
centre area for the mountain. So in a rare moment when I actually succumbed to
peer pressure, I went with them.

I can't believe someone got a pick with no beggars or wanna be gangsters at
Jackson..

a pretty good idea of a slow day at Jackson, courtesy of google maps

The bus rides from there were uneventful, taking the Delaware to Jackson Square,
then getting the Barton. Nothing out of the ordinary, Jackson was dirty and every
5 feet was someone asking for change or a smoke. We got the Barton and it was
the same as it always is as well, the vile mix of body odor and urine, and people
whom have had things really rough. Barton street was the way it was now pretty
much, boarded up store fronts and windows and hookers and crackheads on every
corner. I was starting to dread my decision. But we always made the best of these
rides by finding some entertainment in the eccentrics that always inhabit these
buses and areas.

One of the cleaner and brighter parts of Barton Street


Centre Mall, it was recently torn down to make a bunch of big boxes...In one of the poorest areas in town.

So we had made it, and first things first, were off to the food court. Ray always, still to this day swears by A&W, and Tom being a follower did the same. I of course
being me went to Valentinos- home of the greasiest slices of pizza ever-.

Now as Ray was awaiting his food me and Tom were at the tables and noticed these two ladies kept walking by, a cute short, curvy brunette and a slightly ditzy, taller, cute redhead with glasses. We didn't think much of it and ate and went to the dying remains of the last Kmart in the area. There was not much left, even the store fixtures were mostly gone, so me and Tom ventured outside and noticed a Sega vending machine, one where it takes your picture and makes it into stickers or what not.

Again those two girls walked by, this time being oddly close, but we were more preoccupied in this machine to really analyze anything...Hurray for brute stupidity. After Ray finally finished in Kmart, being Ray and all we had to go to the Arcade, a Wizard's Palace. Ray went direct to, I believe it was one of the Marvel vs Capcom series, second one comes to mind, and I went to feed my retro game addiction and popped a few quarters into The Simpsons game and failing miserably at it, from there went on to another old favorite, WWF Wrestlefest.


Still a great game by any right.

At the time I noticed those girls were back, and this time talking to Ray, so things were starting to make a little sense. Then things took an odd turn. The redhead, came over and started talking to me, revealing that she knew whom I was and knew a fair bit about me. It turns out that she was my fiancees former best friend, they were at that point unknowing to me, talking again. So she popped in a few quarters and played along with me, this was rare as most women in my life at this point disliked video games, hell my fiancee then hated them. We made a lot of small talk and then she left with her friends. A few minutes later, the small brunette comes back and hands me a piece of a smoke pack and tells me to call the number any time.


So after an hour or so of getting my ass handed to me at the arcade, we figure out that with travel time incorporated, there is little chance of making it to microplay. Annoyed that I had been carrying around a stack of SNES games, I then remembered a place at Main and Wellington that bought used games and off we went, back on the eternal stench of the Barton bus for 25 minutes and then a 10 minute walk thru
one of the roughest areas of the city at the time. So finally I reached the game store, whose name escapes me, and they offer me a mere $15 for my games, angered as microplay would have given me 3 times that but still lusting after my sweet, sweet tequila, I reluctantly accepted..to this day I kick my own ass over that. From there we took the very dark and depressing walk to the downtown core, finally completing
our circle at Jackson Square, where I had to rush in and grabbed hold of the total point of my journey. Sauza gold tequila...but the damn $15 was only enough for a
mickey so I decided to make do and chugged it outside the mall on a bench. From there I apparently harassed a gangster guy over his oversized pants, yelling at
him that I could easily fit in them perfectly and he better watch it or I'm stealing them or something like that. I was drunk and dumb.

The corridor leaving downtown towards home on a typical night. Only 90 minutes til I arrive at home.

But I digress. So eventually I stumbled my way home and off to bed after a very normal but satisfying day. The next day I sat and debated about that number I was given, this was Melanie's best friend, what does this woman want with me? Is Ray right and I should throw it away? he had dated both of them years before... So I waited and debated and finally at 8ish that night decided, what the hell and rolled the dice. That call ended up being 9 hours and we really hit it off. In the end I ended up finally making a good decision for myself and left the controlling oppressive redhead for one whom allowed me to be myself and saw me for whom I was not whom they could mold me into. There is a lot more and maybe one day I will get into it.

But those two kids, her and I, grew together, within
a year moved out on our own. Although things have been up and down over the years, admittingly sometimes even Jerry Springer level, there is not much I would change along the way to get to where we are today.

Melissa and I May 2010, not too much after are 12 year anniversary.



It's odd how in the end, my quest for a sad love of an alcoholic beverage, ended up in me finding the love of my life.