My Own Place
Palacious, Texas. The t-shirt lay on my bed, a taunting reminder of what was to come. My mom and dad had just come back from seeing the town of Palacious with the idea of moving there so dad could open a private practice. I had turned 19 a month before and had a new job… and a boyfriend. Did I mention I had a boyfriend? My plan was to stay in Ottawa and eventually get married. I wasn't ready to move out on my own, and being ripped from my family was no great hell either.
As it turns out, dad got a better job offer, one that wouldn't take them so far away. Toronto was reachable by bus and they'd still be sailing out of the Trident yacht club on the St. Lawrence, just 1 1/2 hours away. I started to feel excited about having my own place.
Mom and I started looking at apartments and saw all manner of accommodations, including some pretty creepy places. We settled on a bachelor apartment on Argyle Street. I'd be able to walk to work and it wasn't far from the university where Steve was studying.
It was in a gritty 10 story building and supposedly had a pool on the roof (I never went there and you'll soon see why). When you first came in the door, to the left were two closets opposite each other and a small bathroom at the end. The main room was MAYBE 10x12. Along the wall backing onto the closets was a tiny kitchen: fridge, sink, 1 or 2 feet of counter space and a narrow stove. It had an avocado green carpet that must have had more dirt in it than the Grand Canyon. I had my single bed sitting without its legs, lengthwise along one wall with pillows to fashion it into a daybed. Across from that was the desk my dad built. There was a dresser at one end of the bed (closest to the door), and a small shelf with my radio on the other end. There was barely room for the brown Ikea chair at the end of the desk. To give you an idea of how small the apartment was: sometimes I'd pull the mattress and baseboard apart to make a giant bed. The large rectangle reached the base of my desk and left no empty floor-space.
At the end of my desk, near the kitchen, I had my budgie cage hanging from the wall, a box with the hamster cage on it. The guinea pig lived in another box on the floor, and the rabbit in a laundry basket - the plastic kind with holes in it. I really should have skipped all the rodents and gone straight for a cat.
My sheltered up-bringing in middle-class neighbourhoods did not prepare me for living around people yelling and fighting with police arriving to take them away. Nor did it prepare me for creepy men knocking on my door telling me 'they know I'm in there'. No. I wasn't prepared. And you can see why I never went on the roof!
It was my first home and I made the best of it. I desperately missed my family, and my boyfriend was usually too busy with his studies to spend much time with me. Work was my only distraction and since most of my co-workers were middle aged men with families, the socialization didn't extend beyond work hours. Of course my family visited from Toronto from time to time. At bedtime we'd pull the bed into one giant sleeping surface and lie ourselves out as if we were in a tent. A chorus of "good night John boy" would cause us all to giggle.
I wasn't making much money, but that didn't stop me from buying things to make it feel like 'my place'. I had red plastic plates, and glasses with splashes of red. My bed had a black, brown and white Mexican blanket and the throw pillows were black faux fur. The chair was brown fabric, and the wooden furniture was all light wood. It was a cute little place. I was lonely though. I think if I would have had a TV it would have been a bit easier.
By the time summer arrived, I was sick of the fighting and noise, plus I had a motorcycle which gave me more freedom, so I found a new apartment in a residential setting. And my boyfriend Steve moved in with me. Life was looking up!
Leaving home in a sense involves a kind of second birth in which we give birth to ourselves. ~Robert Neelly Bella