It was 2011 and I’m in my mid-twenties, I still lived with my mom and siblings. I come from a culture where it’s quite common for adult children to live with their parents until they married. But we were not very traditional and the opportunity presented itself with the eviction from our then-landlord.
Moving out felt like a natural move. I’m a person who’s completely content to be on my own most of the time. I’ve always wanted to experience it, living solo. Not just away from people who raised me, but to be entirely on my own. No roommates for me. Besides, I’ve only been seeing the boyfriend for five months; it felt too early to move in.
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 cooked, I bought a can of tomato paste and realized that I didn’t have 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 little noises they made though–it was comforting to know that there were actual people at the other side at nights but I don’t technically live with them. We chatted at the gate, 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 Made the bold decision to work part-time to allow myself more time to write, then went on to finish my first (still unpublished) novel.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 taste. From joy to fear. I heard myself think–it was daunting to really hear 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 preferences went to share space with his home office, show props, his laidback schedule and very foreign tastes. There were clashes between moods and clutter, adjustments to routines and energies. 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 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.