4 moves in 4 months

sharing new immigrant experience

How I moved 4 times in 4 months
I came to Calgary from Hong Kong on September 1970 to attend to the art college.
the student union already found me a basement room close to the college for $40 per month, but I found that too expensive and started looking for a better due.
Two months later I moved in with a Canadian family as a house keeper in exchange for free room and board.
With my poor English and as a klutzy teenager, It was the first time I touched a dish washer and vacuum cleaner, I didn’t even know the difference of the bed cover from the comforter, so it was actually very kind of them to keep me for 3  weeks before they kicked me out.
I then moved to a tiny room in the attic of an old house in Chinatown for $25 a month, the old couple went back to Hong Kong for X’mas and turned down the heat so low that thick ice built up on the only window in my room and I could not see outside.
That X’mas was the loneliest holiday I ever had, my triangular shaped room was so small I could only stand up straight in the middle of the room, when I stretched out my arms I could touch both sides of the ceiling walls, so to escape from the icy hole I spent all the time in the central library closeby when it was open.
X’mas day and new years day were the worst because the library was closed, sitting in my room I could hear all kinds of activities going on in the two Chinese churches near by, I was very tempted to go over to join them for some company or at least have a free X’mas meal, but by that time I already had much doubt about the true nature of god according to the old testament, I felt I could not respect myself if I gave in to the temptation, so I stayed put in my empty room that didn’t even have a radio.
one day I was making some beef bone soup but I also went to the library, by the time I got back in the evening, the pot almost melted and the smoke from the charcoaled bones left a layer of brownish tint on the walls, so naturally , when the owners came back from HK, I had to move again , this time I sacked up with some hippies from the art college.—-and that’s how I moved 4 times in 4 months.
To saved the bus fare of 25c. everyday I walked 45 minutes to go to the art college next to SAIT. I was half frozen by the time I got there because I didn’t have the right clothing and shoes, the winter clothes from Hong kong is only good to 10c above.
That summer, I worked two fulltime jobs, one in the laundry dept. of the Banff Spring’s hotel, the industrial detergent was so strong my heels are still suffering the damage from the chemicals. Then at  4pm I went into town to do dish washing at a steak house till 12am.
It takes half an hour to walk back to the employee’s residence at the hotel following the main road, but by that time I was so tired I could hardly stand up, so to save time I took the short cut following the path way by the river through the trees which was so pitch black at night you could not even see your own fingers, it was very scary because there might be bears etc., That experience trained me not to be afraid of darkness since than.
Lap Lam

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