We had rented a series of houses for 10 years. Now the market had changed and it was clear there were no houses for rent in our price range that would offer long-term stability and a decent commute.
There is no way we would consider buying a house in the Toronto area, and we had no interest in buying a condo. This meant we were forced to move back to rental apartment life. We found a great apartment, as rentals go -- three bedrooms, two bathrooms -- at an affordable rent. And we adjusted.
I'm very aware of my own privilege, so I consciously found the positives and tried not to complain about the negatives. But truth be told, it was a difficult adjustment, and definitely a diminished sense of well-being and happiness. I sorely missed having private outdoor space -- a lack that had me scheming to find a way to leave NYC many years before we actually did. Having a backyard was the reason I made peace with suburban life. Living in an apartment in suburbia just made no sense.
The other negatives were doing laundry (a minor nightmare), frequent elevator breakdowns (and their impact on dog-walking), and above all, not having control over the temperature of our living space.
Both Allan and I hate hot, humid, summer weather. In NYC, we would spend the summer trapped in our apartment with the air-conditioner blasting 24/7. (I am not exaggerating.) Now we found ourselves in the same situation, but so much worse -- because we couldn't control it. Giant Corporate Landlord made tenants suffer the heat for at least a month before turning on the air-conditioning, then never turned it up high enough, then cut it off months before it cooled down outside. For months, we were always too warm and never really comfortable. (Again, I'm aware of all my privilege as I write this.)
As it turned out, this disappointing regression to apartment life was the push I needed to make the next Big Life Change. After our first trip to Vancouver and to visit our west-coast family, in the taxi home from the airport, surrounded by ugly, grey concrete and smog-choked air, I said, "Why do we even live here anymore?" Much like "Why don't we move to Canada?" in 2003, I look back on these words as a door we consciously opened.
Fast-forward to the bizarre world of 2020. We have been incredibly fortunate, more fortunate than I can express, to ride out the pandemic in (1) BC, where Dr. Bonnie Henry has been a true leader and model, (2) a remote, sparsely populated area where infection rates are very low, and (3) a comfortable home with a great deck and a big backyard.
And now it is summer. At least that's what the calendar says. In Mississauga, temperatures in the 30s, sometimes with a "feels-like" (as the Weather Network calls it) of more than 40. (American readers: 40 C = 104 F.) To us, anything over 20 (68) is hot, and anything over 25 (high 70s) is very uncomfortable. 30 (86) is unbearable.
Here in Port Hardy, we have yet to see a day over 20 (68). This summer is unusually cool, but even during 2019's more typical summer weather, we never missed having an air-conditioner. A few times we used a fan in the bedroom, and it was easily cool enough to sleep.
I'm imagining living in that Mississauga apartment with inadequate cooling and over-crowded elevators, with the pandemic raging. I'm so sorry that so many people are suffering... and I'm so grateful to be where I am.
|Mississauga, July 2020|
|Port Hardy, July 2020|
|Photo from July 10, 2020. Seriously.|