Wednesday, May 25
For us, part of the incentive to move to Ontario was the allure of buying our Very Own House. A house where we wouldn't share walls, noises, smells and spaces with unknown and generally strange people.
We rarely minded our Vancouver neighbours. Fishbowl living can be great--you are seen as much as you see. You can watch a fairly random sample of people (people who you wouldn't otherwise meet) go through the motions of daily living.
While the best example was watching a family of 2 grow to a family of 4 (a family I never knew but for the size of the baby clothes hanging on the line outside), years of living beside a revolving door has its downside too. The year that two alcoholics moved across from us stands out as a year we heard a lot of fighting. That same year, a young family also moved next door as they struggled with employment, mental illness and custody. That year we learned that alcoholics and children are both loud when they scream for attention. That year we almost moved. The most trying year, however, was the one when we neighboured an elderly recovering heroine addict who relapsed and later died. No one knew he had passed until we smelled his body.
And we found that all this anger and sadness and tragedy can accumulate in a place, regardless of the other wonderful people around. Year after year, the grass gets a little greener on the other side. After 7 years of diverse neighbours, many in serious transition, we left behind an open, multicultural, gay neighbourhood for the lush lawns of the whitest, straightest place I've inhabited since kickin' it in rural Alberta. I guess we realized that the price of vibrancy and diversity was vibrancy and diversity. The good, bad and the ugly.
And so, in the end, what helped to sell us on our move out here was homogeneity and stability. When we were looking at the house we would later buy, the moment our elderly neighbour called herself 'new to the neighbourhood' because she'd moved there in 1988 were sold. We sold out.
So, as I shop around Kitchener for appliances and furniture and things to fill our Very Own House, I can't help but feel just like everyone else. And I can't help but question what I'll gain, but more importantly, what we'll lose.
But I haven't changed that much. I still hate strollers.
Photo by mogsterb.
Wednesday, May 18
Here's a beautiful video for your Wednesday on the non-toxic home. It was inspired by a little one lost to cancer.
Tuesday, May 17
It's been almost five months since we moved to waterless Waterloo from the Wet Coast and we've only just bought our first home.
We are apartment dwellers. Snotty, uptight, high-density neighbourhood urbanites who are swimming in the sea of space out here in southwestern Ontario. In these past months, we've been renting a lovely if creaky old home near downtown Kitchener (and I'm happy to report that Waterloo's sister city is a bit of a dark horse). With a hundred year history, backyard, porch swing and the best neighbours that I've ever neighboured, this home is hard to beat.
The only downside, and for us it has been a gigantic, insurmountable downside, is that the place is Huge. Massive. Colossal. Compared to our 700 sq foot apartment, the 3 levels (not counting the basement), nooks, crannies, rooms, yard and immense pockets of air have all consumed us. Space everywhere. Enough space to get lost in most days. Too much space to clean. Too much space to maintain.
What we have here is a high quality problem.
And so, as we spent months searching all the central areas of both Kitchener and Waterloo for a home to own, we remembered what we want is a Small. What we need is Small. We remembered our minimalist roots. Where we can clean everything in 20 minutes and be out the door. Where we have only a handful of toys and they all live in one box. Where the kitchen is the heart of our home and the living room our nest.
But there was a catch. To live central we could only afford Big. Large. Three towering stories with a chance of old piping and knob and tube wiring. So, on a whim, one day we cast our net a little wider. Two kilometers was all it took.
We found it. Our home.
This June we will move into our 1100sq ft bunglow. Instead of walking the 10 minutes to work we will walk 30 minutes. Instead of walking to a grocery store, we will bike to the store. Instead of being near a favourite cafe or restaurant we will have a dozen 100 year old pine trees to visit.
We had to make a big trade-off for space. Less space. And happily, that was what we did. In the end, it turned out that our waterloo was not location but space. It only took looking for the wrong thing for us to find what we wanted all along.