I have lived in Toronto since 1976, and I have lived in my present home since my birthday in 1998. Now I will be moving out of my home in the fall or early winter and I am 99.99999% sure I am will not live in Toronto upon my return to Canada in 2020.
When I bought my house it was a wreck. Broken windows, broken toilet, knob and tube wiring (for non-Canadians that means the house was not insure-able until replaced), the stove was removed as part of the deal, it was so disgusting, and it took me three hours to clean the fridge. Not surprisingly, when the heat was turned on to ensure it was working before closing the deal, the dead mouse under the kitchen cabinet began to smell. The house was a blank canvas, and as I could afford it, I upgraded it, and have created a home that is a very much a reflection of my taste and of my values. Floor heating and radiators instead of forced air, solar hot water, triple glazed windows, hand made cooper panels surrounding my sliding glass doors to the garden, a curved oak kitchen ceiling, back splash tiles I made in a pottery workshop. Lots of art, and a wild, crammed full of plants garden. Twenty years of ideas, dreaming and creating my home. Now I must dismantle it, pack it away for over a year, and return the house colours to neutral to rent or sell. And grey is the new neutral. At least it is more acceptable than taupe.
Leaving a house is one thing, leaving people who are part of the fabric of my life, and with whom I share emotional ties is another. That is taking more courage than I thought. So many connections, some that are so deep they will continue no matter where we are, others that add greatly to the richness of my life but who knows how they will weather in the long run. This is even hard to write about, the words are not flowing easily. I think it why this blog is so important to me to actually do, not just think about. To stay in touch in what I hope is a meaningful way. And I hope it is a two way street, communications going in two ways. We now have a street party and I am one of the group that organizes it. What a lot of fun we have had at the meetings, and many a bottle of wine consumed doing so. Every other Monday night I knit with 5 other women, and have a group therapy session, supporting each other through life’s ups and downs. Every Saturday I have breakfast with a group of 10 or more people that I originally met walking my dog Sophie down at Ashbridges Bay. We have celebrated many things together, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, and very notably, two European vacations to France and then Italy to celebrate 50th birthdays’ of Mario and Vicki, several years apart.
Leaving a city it yet another thing. I have lived in Toronto for 42 years, mostly east of Yonge, 20 years in the Beach, and 20 years in Leslieville as Leslieville has become a hot desirable area. My street, Hastings Avenue, has been transformed. When I moved in there was a crack house two doors down, rooming houses, a hooker up the street, and a murderer caught in the attic of the house next door. It has changed. This week a detached brick house was offered for sale at $1,340,000. It sold in three days, in a supposedly slow market, for $1,777,077. Its address: 77 Hastings. There were few children on the street when I moved in, now it is bursting with kids as the couples moved in, renovated houses and had children. It is locally known as Gastings as so many of our houses have been bought by gay men and lesbians. Three of the families with kids are lesbian households. Toronto has grown up in the years that I have lived here. When I first arrived it was not a cultural backwater, but it was not what it is now, a thriving, multicultural, artistically diverse city with more to do in one summer weekend that can be done in a year.
The die is set. Wheels are in motion. The house is changing. My office is now grey, not yellow, my red banister is gone, painted white. Much of my art is packed. I am glad it is happening slowly, so that I can detach myself emotionally over a period of time rather than abruptly, which I know works better for me. And there is one last street party that I am a part of organizing. Saturday June 9th. You are all invited. Come by in the evening for some live music by local band The Dogooders and a pot luck supper. See you then, I hope.
p.s. more pictures in future when I can figure out how to put them in.