We’ve started a new feature over on Tenth to the Fraser and it’s sort of a New West group meme thing, wherein we’re going to post a topic every Wednesday and people can participate by either writing their own blog entries, tweeting a comment, comment on the blog post, or Facebook page, and generally just speaking up. I’m going to play along, most likely I will usually post on this here blog, but who knows, I might not always want to.
First impressions count. But they donâ€™t always stick. What were your first impressions of New Westminster? Has your opinion changed over time?
I don’t know how many people know this, but I moved to New Westminster very specifically for a boy.
When I moved to to the Lower Mainland from Vancouver Island as a 19 year old, I moved to Granville and 12th. I lived there for close to a year with a friend, sharing a 1 bedroom ground floor apartment. And I met a guy at the local, now defunct Kits Pub. We dated for a few months, but he lived in Maple Ridge, and I didn’t have a car. (Question: how long did it take then to transit from Granville& 12th to Dewdney Trunk Road and Laity? Answer: 2 goddamned hours, that’s how long). So when my roommate suggested we consider moving to this little suburb called New Westminster so that she could be closer to the college she had just signed up for, I was all for it. You mean we can afford for us to each have our own bedrooms? You mean they skytrain is RIGHT THERE? You mean it will only take 60 minutes to get to Maple Ridge? I’m IN.
We rented the first two bedroom apartment we could find; it was on Agnes Street. I remember moving on New Year’s Eve (what were we thinking?) and I remember my boyfriend had borrowed a friend’s truck so that we could move our meager possessions. As we were driving away from Granville and 12th, and hit the highway, and the highway exits ticked by, I remember thinking “HOLY COW this place is way farther away from downtown than I thought!” Each time we’d pass an exit and I’d expect him to veer over, and each time he’d smile at me and snicker. I seriously thought I might as well have been moving to Hope.
I thought New Westminster was kind of hokey. I thought it was sleepy and kind of dirty. I felt relatively safe, although New Westminster Skytrain Station was to be avoided at all costs. My world included IGA and Columbia Skytrain Station. I started hanging out at a place called Black Dog Billiards (Cafe?) on Carnarvon and on this new popular thing called “the internet” and rented time in chat rooms by the hour.
I smoked then. And New Westminster was a welcoming place to smokers. There were lots of bars, and lots of bars you could smoke in. The hallways in the apartment smelled. Everywhere I went New Westminster felt a little out of touch, a little less shiny, a little more real. All the apartment buildings were brown or tan or beige or some other blase colour of brown.
I started expanding my horizon and spent hours at the Knight and Day. I was accepted to College at both Langara and Douglas and when I chose Douglas because it was close to home, it was at that point I realized New Westminster had become my home.
Somewhere, a city had become part of my fabric, and its steadfastness, strength, history and community had become something I wanted to protect and stick around to see.