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Space 4 comments

It has been weeks, months, of managing space. Of living in limbo as Knotty Girl and I try to blend our lives in the midst of challenges that are completely unrelated to this blending. KG trying to manage her mother’s complex health and personal affairs. Me trying to get my head around my working life and trying to “vacation” while doing so. Me living partially in my staged, listed condo space, partially at KG’s temporary house-sitting space.  One foot here, one foot there. As I type this now, I’m sitting in a local, newly discovered pub to accommodate a showing of my condo space.

Everyone who “knows” my living space of the last seven years seems to love it. Many of my friends have said, “If my life pointed me to living in downtown Toronto, I’d buy your place in a heartbeat.”  That is sweet and heartfelt. However, the market is indicating something different. When surrounded by new, highly-amenitied high rise glass and steel towers, my little low-rise loft – lacking in the concierge, the marble foyer, the in-house gym - seems to lack the glassy cubicle coldness that the market seems to expect.

If only my walls could talk. I purchased the place from architectural rendering before the shovel hit the ground in May 2002. I waited, impatiently, in a 400 sq. ft. basement apartment until July 2004 to move in. The first six months were hell, with 57 items incomplete on the construction list, including two out of three sinks missing. Much of my valued stuff in storage had been wrecked through dampness and I thought I’d made a huge mistake with the whole thing. However, about six months in, everything seemed to settle a bit. I started to enjoy the magnificent space, the location, my neighbours. A community started to form in the building, paint got up on previously stark white walls, and the space started to really feel like home. Meals prepared and enjoyed. Rehearsals for plays and music performances.  Laughter. Socks and underwear even careening off the ceiling fan from time to time.  (Perhaps I should put that in the listing.)

I have called this space my “oasis in the city” and it has felt like this – a quiet, secure, healing place. There has been much to heal from, as there often is in an examined life.  It has felt safe and protective, yet welcoming and communal. It is, as a space, special to me. The walls, now freshly repaired from nail holes and scuff marks, and beautifully painted, have wrapped around me, fitting whatever needs I have had, from rehearsal space to party space to gallery space to quiet reflective space to new love space.

Time passes and a home can be outgrown, as is the case now. There is no room for KG’s two children, not to mention a workshop and another office. To pass this space on, I want to reminisce, to help them “feel” it … to feel as comfortable, relaxed, open as I have felt – more comfortable than I could ever feel in a glass tower overlooking a cityscape. To help them feel the sense of community that they can help build anew, just by their presence in this space.

But listings don’t work that way, and some decisions are made with the cold reality of interest rates, square footage, and the fitting of furniture and placement of televisions. However, life does not work that way. A peaceful, quiet, light-filled space in a downtown location is surely worth some fiddling around with sofas and entertainment solutions.

In truth, with the staging, it feels much less like my space than it once did. I’m curiously enjoying the neat and tidy minimalist lifestyle. But I can’t cook big complex meals …  or bacon. Everything I take out of cupboards or drawers has to be put back. None of the detritus of day-to-day life – receipts, pocket change, scraps of paper with shopping lists, odds and ends – can be visible.  The place feels sanitized and so much less personal. This, however, is in an effort to help the next person visualize themselves in this space. Their colours, their art, their detritus. Their laughter, their love, their life. I know when this space finds its next occupant, it will respond to their needs as beautifully as it has responded to mine. And this thought makes me smile.

42 Words For Tired 1 comment

The People of the North have at least 42 different words to describe snow, or so I’m told. In communications-speak, we’d describe that as a “low context culture” that uses language rather than contextual clues to transmit detailed and precise meaning. Something that, in this case anyway, the People of the North have in common with the Germanic cultures.

At this moment, I’m mulling over the possibility that I could come up with 42 different words for tired. The good news is that my exhaustion hits me in the evening after a very full day and it is almost entirely physical. My brain continues to zoom along but my body, some days, just can’t keep up. I’m prepared to express this exhaustion momentarily in a high context, non-linguistic manner as I fling myself across my bed and close my eyes.

… pooped … wiped … bagged …

This is one of those damp wintery evenings in Toronto that chills a person right down to the core, even though the actual temperature hovers around freezing. It really isn’t that cold. The precipitation vacillates between wet heavy snow and cold penetrating rain. The walk back to my car after post-hockey pub was short but by the time I got into my car I was not only tired, I was shivering. Every heating device in the vehicle – defroster, heater, seat warmer – was immediately turned up to high and remained so for the short trip home. Even now, as I sip hot water and lemon and have the fireplace, I am still thawing out.

… tuckered out … spent … fatigued …

On the short walk back to my car, I caught a whiff of a fireplace in use, that lovely rich wood-smoke smell that makes you want to curl up like a cat and sleep forever. My mind wandered back to the time I bought this condo, from plans, and the stroke of inspiration that led me to ask them to put my fireplace in. Of course, I don’t have the good-smelling kind – I have the warm but kinda fake kind. No matter – the visual of having an actual “fire” to look at does as much psychological warming as the actual heat the thing throws out.

… drowsy … drained … drooping …

I bought this place in May 2002, when a trailer stood on this vacant lot. It was a confluence of amazing events that culminated in that day. From that moment onward, I drove by the site several times a week, bugged the construction guys to let me see my unit, plying them with coffee, and generally obsessed about moving in.

… dog-tired … done in … fagged …

Here are some photos taken in July 2002 by my Danish visitor, Zara. Clearly, not much had happened, construction-wise, at this point. I’m grateful that these pics don’t show, in great detail, the Worst Haircut Of My Life. I actually wound up with hockey hair … an almost mullet. This happened three days before Zara arrived and I was mortified but unable to describe to the hair-dresser – who seemed very excited about this cut – what I actually wanted her to do.

Hey ... those prices aren't right!
Here is where I am going to live someday!

Lookit! Here is where I am going to live someday!

My BMI was a tad higher in July 2002, methinks. 🙂

The building was completed, only a few months over schedule, in July 2004. Well,  “completed” is a loose, non-legal term. It was ready for people to move in.  The first four months were hell – 57 things on the list of “incomplete” or “needs attention” elements that the builder had to fix, including the absence of sinks in either bathroom. My beloved couch arrived from almost three years in storage shot through with mildew. Emotionally, I was not handling being alone very well. My fantasy of living alone in my own space didn’t get off on the right foot at all.

… haggard … sleepy … worn out …

Something shifted somewhere around the fifth or sixth month. There was a settling in, a critical mass of things getting fixed or upgraded, routines getting established, things starting to feel like they were going my way for a bit. I’ve been very very happy here ever since. I have one of the only condos in Toronto that has a gigantic tree outside the window. In the summer, my neighbours call my place “The TreeHouse”. 🙂

… done rambling … signing off … anymore words for tired out there …?

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