March 29th, 2011

The Old Place

I have started half a dozen amusing, insightful blog posts in the last week or two, and finished none. I am moving in two days and it consumes my life, pushing thoughts of writing–plus actual writing–out of my crazed mind.

I’ve been jamming everything I own into banana boxes, trying to figure if I’ll be sorry if I throw out the inexplicable package of castors I found in the linen closet, and scrubbing the stove for all I’m worth (did you know there’s a level below the level below the burners, but above the oven? yeah, there is, and it gets dirty too). In the gaps between all that, though, I’ve been indulging in a little nostalgia.

I’ve lived here just shy of 8 years, and I’m pretty certain they were the best 8 years of my life. It was the first place I lived where I couldn’t see the fridge from the bed, the first time I ever had multiple rooms and a dining nook–it was the first place I lived as a sort of grown up. I had only been in TO just over a year when I moved in, and I was really shocked when a lot of people came to my housewarming–the first Toronto party I threw–and we had a lot of fun. It was the place where I started feeling I belong in this city, that I could stay awhile.

I eventually grew to semi-hate this apartment, partly because I just lived here too long, partly because… Ok, I can admit this now, since no one will ever being invited over here again–partly because of a small but persistent vermin problem. Mainly because Mark doesn’t live here, though; I probably would have stuck it out with my little friends out of sheer inertia if I didn’t want to go live with him so much.

But it’s actually a nice apartment. You can sort of tell in these pictures, some of which (the not grey ones) were taken here. I’ll miss the 10-foot south-facing window that made all my plants thrive. I’ll miss being on the second floor and never having to take the elevator (I seem to have developed an elevator phobia without noticing, since I never have to take them). I’ll miss my rare and delightful bathroom window, my shiny dark-wood cupboards, and big deep windowsills.

I’ll miss all the stuff I remember when I look around here. This is where I wrote most of my first book and all of the second. The place where I learned poker and RPGs (well, one) and to make bread and devein shrimp. I got some amazing letters in that mailbox downstairs–ones that make me tear them open in the foyer to see what they said. Here is where I once crouched at the window for an hour, fascinated and sleepless, as a Portuguese family crammed all their belongings–one by one–into a truck in the middle of the night. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it was very loud.

I’ve hosted various book clubs, writing workshops and salons here, had great guests of all stripes and prepared some fabulous brunches. FYI, guys, I slept on the futon last night (bed has been disposed of) and it’s still really comfortable–hope you will visit in the new place.

But even the things that happened to me while I was away are memories about the apartment, too. Here is where I returned to from Costa Rica, New York, Japan, PEI–and was always happy to do so, no matter how great the trip had been. Here is where I slouched down at my computer with a bowl of cereal after great and terrible dates, parties, readings, my dissertation defense, horrible rejections, strange days at work, and everything else.

Here is my baseline, the background against which everything else has been happening. And the larger background, the ‘hood, my beloved Leaside–the best place in the city where nothing every happens. I’ll miss all the cashiers I know at the Metro, including the one who mysteriously knows far too much about me. I’ll miss the fatalistic incompetence of the drug-store staff and how all the ladies at the gym have Lululemon everything and massive engagement rings.

I’ll miss my neighbours of the present and the ghosts of all the past ones: the guy who I met by the garbage bins on my first night, and asked him how he liked the building. He said, “It is what it is,” and that has rung in my ears ever since. I will miss the guy next door who sold tires out of his apartment and the woman upstairs who had so much vigorous sex. I will miss the current upstairs neighbours and their ill-behaved but adorable puppy. I’ll missed all of the parade of supers, from Eric who was never around to the very first one, Raoul, who was so adamant in his refusal to fix my shower that I actually asked my father to speak to him.

I miss my (much) younger self, who thought it was ok to ask her parents to solve everything. My younger self who thought I would be happy in one secure, stable job forever; that made awkward conversation with the guy across the street even though I really dislike him; that did not know all the things I now know about my stove. I’m still pretty much afraid of everything (now including elevators!) but in this apartment I got a lot better about conquering my fears, or at least peacefully co-existing with them.

For all my (frequent) complaining, this has been a great place to live, vermin not withstanding, nor that time that someone stole my bathtowel out of the washing machine.

And now I’m ready for the next thing.

I’ll probably be offline starting Thursday morning until at least Saturday afternoon, possibly longer depending on how utterly Bell screws us. If you were planning to ask me or tell me something, tomorrow’s the day–but remember, I’m hopped up on stress and oven-cleaner, so I hope it’s not a hard question.

3 Responses to “The Old Place”

  • AMT says:

    i have no questions. you have just provided all the answers. happy moving, RR: i wish i was there to join in the fun.

  • Julia says:

    Lovely post! The nostalgia really resonated with me — I remember feeling this way about the apartment I left behind in Missouri (I had even grown attached to everything that annoyed me about the place, even the broken microwave all teary eyed when I gave the keys to my super). Hope the move is as painless as possible:)

  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the good wishes, guys–I’m steeling myself for it. T-minus 21 hours!!

  • Leave a Reply

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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