At that point, my parents were separated. My dad rented a tiny apartment on rue St-Thomas, in front of the Cegep de Valleyfield. He was an electronics man at Dominion Textile and was the janitor of where he rented his apartment.
My Sister and I would go to his place every two weekends. It was really boring. My dad would work even on weekends and he wasn’t patient so when he was there I couldn’t move, sing, dance, giggle. I was always so happy to see him that when he came to pick us up I would blab about anything and everything until I saw he wasn’t listening and he was growing tired of it. I was eldest so it meant I could sit up front. My Sister would sit in back and talk as much as I.
It was Friday which meant pizza at Bellarive Pizzeria on rue du Marché and we could rent a movie. My dad rented everything in English which helped us with the language. But every time he would speak to me in English I would respond in French. I was intimidated by him, I was afraid he would yell if I made a mistake. When came to go to bed, I took the second bed next to his and My Sister would sleep on the couch. Then the next night we would swap. My dad really snored loudly. I had no pillow, the bed was hard, the sheets were thin. Sigh. I couldn’t wait to get back home already.
At 5:00 the alarm would driiiiing and he would get up and so would we. I didn’t sleep much back then if at all. My Sister would be waken up by me switching the TV on for Saturday morning cartoons. At that time, we had a babysitter but all she did was her homework and she handed us our lunch. She made sure we didn’t cross the street alone.
But I had a friend that lived not far from there and his name was Pascal. I thought Pascal was a pip. I liked him. I took My Sister with me at his place unless she had a playdate at her friend Stéphanie. I remember Pascal’s house, dark, small, like the house where I used to be babysat when I was too young to go to school. It felt poor. But, what did I mind ? Pascal would crank up the volume on the turntable and we would listen to « Gloria » by Laura Branigan, we would lipsynch, dance and…we would kiss under the blanket. I was too shy to do it otherwise. He would kiss me on the cheek. I would get all hot (under the balnket it’s quite hot) and we would have to come out to take a breather.
He became sick in fourth grade and missed a lot of school. There was something wrong with his legs. I wouldn’t even recognize him if I saw him today.
Last year I would hear « Gloria » every Monday morning at the YMCA and think of him. And every time I go to Valleyfield I see his house and wonder where he is.