It was 2011 and I was in my mid-twenties. I still lived with my mom and siblings being from a culture where it’s quite common for adult children to live with their parents until they married. But we are not the most traditional and our then-landlord just gave us an eviction notice.
Moving out felt like a natural step. I’m a person who’s completely content to be on my own most of the time. I’ve always wanted to experience living solo. Not just away from people who raised me, but to be entirely on my own. No roommates for me. I’ve only been seeing the boyfriend for five months; it felt too early to live together.
Mid-May of that year, I moved into a 500-square feet suite in a house in East Vancouver. Simple as I was, I didn’t need such a big space. The big window overlooking the backyard offsets the low ceiling. Thank goodness for floor heating! For the first time, I was eating what I wanted for meals–didn’t have to think about what others in the household liked or disliked. (For the first meal I made, I bought a can of tomato paste and realized during cooking that I didn’t own a can opener!) I experimented with healthy recipes then reverted to comfort food every so often. I learned that I’m not such a huge fan of knickknacks, but I like tablecloths, flowers. That Stone-Age TV near the window? Hardly used; I much prefer to read or watch videos online. Discovered, to my pride, that house plants thrive in my care. Boyfriend was a constant guest–I cooked him meals, he stayed over some nights and we left together in the mornings (to my job and to his apartment–he works from home).
The walls were crazy thin so my neighbours probably didn’t sleep well when I was coughing all night due to winter bugs. I didn’t mind the shuffling noises they made though–it was comforting to know that there were actual people at the other side of the wall at nights. We chatted by the gate or out in the yard from time to time, but we mostly kept to ourselves. Fine by me.
It was in this bright little dwelling where I got myself accepted to a coveted writing program. Grappled with the illness and death of the estranged father. Changed jobs. Made the bold decision to work part-time to allow myself more time to write, then went on to finish my first (still unpublished) novel. I learned a lot about myself. From priorities to tastes. Joys and fears. I heard myself think–it was daunting to really know and build a relationship with that voice inside my head. I felt closer than ever to my family–distance rejuvenates old and familiar relationships.
Three years passed. The boyfriend and I got increasingly busy with our pursuits and it became ridiculous to have only the weekends to share. And we lived about five miles from one another! On October 1, 2014. my clothes, meager furniture, books, habits and tastes went to share space with his home office, show props, his laidback schedule and very foreign palate. There were clashes between chores and clutter, adjustments to moods and routines. We do better nowadays. He’s a dear and a delight. I love coming home to him. He travels for work and I pretend-sulk as he packs for yet another trip.
I miss him when he leaves. But then when I’m alone, I get to visit the bachelorette pad in my head. I find, to my delight, that the person who I thought moved out years ago still lived there and has not changed that much at all.