“Something has always pulled me here. I don’t know if it’s my mother or what, but Saint John calls me,” he says as we stand at the Maritime Bus terminal saying our farewells. It’s October 25 and it is freezing out. All I can think about are my cold hands. And how sad I am to see him go. “You’ll be back,” I say. It’s easier than goodbye. Besides, I’m trying out this whole vision board theory. If you say/believe something will happen, it has a better chance of happening. Right?
Meet Al. An 80 year old man that came to us by chance 3 weeks ago. Arriving in town with no plans, he came across the hostel thanks to an agent at the bus terminal. Falling into an easy rhythm at the hostel, Al has spent his time with us telling stories, making us laugh, and reading novels. He was blown away to see how much Saint John has changed since he grew up here in the 1950s & 1960s. We visited the Stone Soup Cafe one day and he was in awe of how different Prince Edward Street looks today. “It used to look like Germain Street - or Prince William Street! Man. So much has changed,” he remarked. Al remembers the mid-1900s as being a very tough time in Saint John. On the heels of the second world war, jobs were hard to find and diseases like polio, yellow fever, and tuberculosis were constant threats. Cancer ended up stealing his mother when he was quite young and his father was forced to drop Al and his siblings off to an orphanage when they were all under 10.
Once Al was old enough he left Saint John and moved to Ontario. He spent the majority of his career driving transport trucks which allowed him to see most of Canada and the USA. Now retired, he spends a lot of his time with friends, his children, and his grand children in Quebec.
Oh, and my vision board theory? Well. The universe just might conspire to get Al back here. Through frozen goodbyes, Al mentioned he plans to try to get back for Christmas.
See you soon dear friend.