Or, adventures in relocating. As I write these words, I am sitting in a completely new and foreign space which, at some point in time (probably sooner than I think), will feel fundamentally like home. This jumbled mess, this area bursting with the salvaged artifacts of my life, this magical yet very real apartment is mine. All mine. Just mine. Mine and mine alone. It feels like a friendly acquaintance who I may be just a little familiar with, if only because it is filled to the brim with my belongings which have yet to find their rightful place in this tiny space. But I can tell – even in these first few hours of being truly settled in for my first night here – this is going to be my home and quite possibly the best home that I have ever made for myself. This is an adventure.
It’s unusual for me to feel so sure and certain of something like this, but there’s one resounding fact that I can’t ignore: My move into this apartment was absolutely delightful. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?! Moving. Is. The. Worst. Who on earth has ever taken any joy in moving? (Apart from perhaps professional movers, who I can only assume are enjoying their work, if anything because they are getting paid for it…) Seriously. Let’s talk about this.
Why Moving Is Terrible
- You put your entire life into boxes. This sucks because you don’t really know where anything is, or if you do, you can’t easily access it and tape guns are basically the devil. (Deceptive, sharp, temperamental, THE WORST.)
- Putting said life into boxes tends to lead to an existential crisis. (Why do I have so many things? Should I keep this memento from a trip I hardly remember? Will I need this extra trash can?)
- Money, Money, Money. Paying for movers, paying for moving permits, paying to rent a truck, etc. Or, if you’re lucky and have wonderful friends / family to help you bypass those expenses, you still end up buying new things for the new place. (Because you got rid of the trash can, WHY DID YOU GET RID OF THE TRASH CAN?!)
- Change is never fun. We love routine and we love the familiar, so letting that go and embracing a move to a new space is always a little uncomfortable. Even for people who “claim” to love change. (Who are these people? I need to understand the inner workings of their beautiful / crazy minds.)
- No matter how much you plan it out, the actual move is always hectic. Timing doesn’t work, things get misplaced, you can’t find the f$%&ing tape gun when you need it the most… it’s a bit of a hot mess.
- The physical and emotional strain is killer. Arms and back are screaming while heart is breaking. Every move is the end of a period in your life so like it or not, there’s a little bit of a heartbreak that goes with the act of relocating.
So. That’s my shortlist for the (one-sided) debate about why moving is the worst. And based on this write-up, I’m starting to doubt my own statement above regarding delighting in this move… But both things are true. Moving is terrible and I hate it, of course! But both things are true. This move was special for me. It was my first time really moving out on my own – not with a partner, not down the highway to a dormitory for school, not to the basement of my parents’ home after my sad divorce – this was MY move. And. It. Was. The. Best.
Why My Move Was The Best Move
- Independence Day isn’t just a holiday in America. I felt strong and independent rocking this move almost entirely by myself. Run back and forth to the car 15 times to unload all my boxes filled with kitchen things? No problem. Play tetris / jenga with my car to fit as much as possible in an effort to reduce trips back and forth between Home A and Home B? I killed it! Figure out where to store all the kitchen things from those 15 boxes? I got this!
- I also had a lot of help. Don’t get me wrong. I felt very Beyoncé circa the Destiny’s Child Charlie’s Angels era, but I had friends and family on standby to help with the last chunk of the move, when the heavy lifting couldn’t be managed by me and me alone. I am so grateful and so very lucky to have good people in my life who love and support me, even when I go all independent woman on them.
- Somehow there was boundless energy flowing out of me from Friday afternoon at 5PM all the way until this fine Tuesday evening at 10PM. (Where did this come from? Usually I need so much sleep… Was I high on this move? Am I going to crash at some point? HOW AM I STILL AWAKE RIGHT NOW??)
- My new apartment is really cool. EXPOSED BRICK. Need I say more? I guess loving the space you are moving to can sort of soften the blow of moving being the worst.
- This is a huge change in my life and for once I have absolutely no doubt that this is the right thing for me and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That casual acquaintance is fast becoming a close friend, even in the short time I have spent writing these words. (Maybe an inaugural blog post is just what I needed to settle in?)
- As always, the universe gives us exactly what we need. Every tiny setback I encountered turned out to be quite the opposite. The timing that I thought was so off was just perfect. My body told me when I was hungry and when it was time to dance around the empty apartment. Strangers opened doors for me by chance only when I was carrying the heaviest boxes. The universe is magic.
I am still buzzing from this move. I’m living (officially as of tonight) in an unreal space that I could never have imagined myself to be in a few years ago. In fact, I don’t think I could ever have guessed that I would end up in this apartment, in this city, living this different and unexpected life. Certainly I would NEVER have thought that I would enjoy any form of relocating, but as I said, this was a special move. It was a movement toward embracing change while shaking off the past. It was 100% me going all in on me. It was and it is, always, an adventure.
Last week was the end of a long chapter in my life. The house I lived in for 6 years transferred ownership to my buyers and I officially moved out. I will never pull into that driveway again, never dash up the stairs to grab the scarf I forgot in my closet, never make a huge mess in the kitchen while putting together a delicious meal, never enjoy a glass of wine with loved ones on the couch in the living room, never plant another garden in the backyard… It is with absolute certainty that I can say that this experience would serve as the perfect definition of bittersweet. All week long I found myself sitting in the middle of two extreme emotions: liberated joy and crushing sadness.
The latter was the stronger of the two feelings in the last few days as I went through the closing of the sale and emptying of the final things in the house; but there was a constant optimism underlying the sorrow attempting to remind me of the great things ahead. Emotions are tricky, aren’t they? The logical side of me was rolling her eyes at the weepy side and biting her tongue even though she wanted to shout: “Hey dummy, you’ve been waiting for months to sell your house and move on from this break-up, why are you so sad!?” Conversely, the emotional side of me was angry at the rational side and more than once she wailed: “Why doesn’t logical me and everyone else understand why I feel sad, and isn’t it OK to feel this way anyway?!” Fortunately I am somehow comfortable living in the middle of juxtapositional craziness and although I felt completely disheveled, I was equally fine with oscillating between the sad and happy, rolling with whichever felt stronger and appreciating that what I was feeing was all valid.
That said, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. Particularly the last handful of times I went into the empty house, after I had moved out and was returning to pick up the last of my boxes or clean up before handing over the keys to the new owners… I left the house in tears more than once and felt sick to my stomach every time I drove away. There’s something quite heartbreaking about saying a goodbye that you know is permanent. It was the same feeling I had when I said goodbye to the dog and the cats that my ex took after we split – there’s this terrible finality in walking away from something or someone you know you will never see again. And in this case, this goodbye was to a really beautiful house that I cherished very dearly as a wonderful home for many years. And even though the life I shared with my former partner is over and I know that he and I are both better off in our new lives, I still have happy memories of the time we had together in that home.
So my goal with this post is to pay tribute to the house, my home, which I loved and will always love. And if Julie Andrews has taught me anything (apart from the best word in the world, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), when I’m feeling sad, I just need to think of a few of my favourite things. Here are a few from the first house I ever owned.
The floors. Hardwood oak, medium brown, with beautiful and unique swirls in every individual piece. I still remember the first days of installation – pulling each strip of wood from the piles of boxes, delighting in the idea that these gorgeous pieces were just like a fingerprint or snowflake, unique and unlike any other in the pile.
The mudroom. Square slabs of slate in shades of grey, blue, yellow, green, and even a speckle or two of red – all with a magical feel of the cosmos that would take me away into reveries of outer-space whenever I allowed myself to stop for a moment to recognize their beauty. One side of the room was comprised of pale grey built-in cabinets framing the washing machine and dryer with a large and sturdy matching bench opposite, all designed for optimal convenience in this welcoming room that served as my main entry on the side of the house.
The dolomite. The kitchen was already perfectly installed when we purchased the house (IKEA kitchens for the win!) so there wasn’t really much to do in this room apart from dressing it up a bit. The dolomite tile that I chose as backsplash was absolutely stunning: a soft white with the faintest whispers of grey streaking throughout, along with a pale grey grout… it was special. And then to top it all off, functional hand-build shelving was added on either side of the stove, just above the backsplash.
The closet. One of my favourite decisions made in the early days of the purchase was to tear down the wall between the linen closet in the hallway upstairs and the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, leaving me with all the space a girl could need for a (dare I say it?) dream closet. Pure white, good lighting, hooks for days, bead-board and ample shelving – it was the best closet I’ve ever had. (And that’s saying a lot, because the first place I ever rented had a spare bedroom that I used as a full closet.)
The fireplace. Remember that cosmic tile from my incredible mudroom? It was reclaimed for a fireplace-makeover in the first few years at the house. Where the fireplace was previously a pale indistinct purple-beige with absolutely NOTHING going for it, the refreshing makeover gave the mantlepiece new life with a crisp white on top contrasted by the bold and bright colours of the slate along the base.
The colours. Fossil Grey, Stratosphere, Seagull Grey… I can’t remember all the creative names of the paint colours I chose over the years but the colours are imprinted in my memory. Deep blues upstairs, a pale baby blue in the kitchen, varying shades of grey throughout the main floor, pure white in the bathroom and closets, and a pale greyish green in the mudroom all gave me joy from the first stroke of the paintbrush until the very last time I walked through the house.
Why were these my favourite things? I chose them. Living in this house allowed me the experience of my very first time decorating my own place, choosing the finishing touches, playing interior designer, and leaving my mark in every room. But, as much as I had a role to play in choosing the aesthetics in each room, my ex played a much larger role by installing them and adding special touches that I will always remember with gratitude. Strangely it occurred to me as I was writing – all the things I listed are vestiges of his handiwork. He was (and is) a talented craftsman – a quality that I continue to admire to this day. Just as I loved my house and will always love it, I loved him and always will. We weren’t right for each other, but he was good to me and we made a beautiful home together.
Saying goodbye to this house was as much a goodbye to the structure as much as it was a goodbye to him and all the beautiful work he did. “A few of my favourite things” could turn into an ongoing series about all the amazing work he did in that house – the raised bed for my garden in the backyard, the sturdy bannister that he installed after tearing out the weird wonky original that was there when we bought the place, those handmade cabinets and countertop he custom built around our washer and dryer in the mudroom, the inserts he installed in the oversized windows to give them an extra touch of character… It was a good home that we made, even though it wasn’t meant to be ours forever.
On that very last night in the house I walked from room to room, running my fingers along on the walls, taking in every corner in the hope that I would never forget those precious spaces. And now, as I write these words, I feel a fond appreciation for the home we made together and the lovely work he did for us in that house. More importantly, I know that there was great love in that home and that is something truly unforgettable. He worked hard and we worked hard together – regardless of how it ended, that house remains a monument to that love and work, and that is what I said goodbye to. These are, they were, they always will be, a few of my favourite things.