On November first of last year, I received the news that every renter dreads: my landlord was moving back into my unit and I was being evicted. I learned this two minutes before my physio appointment and I ended up breaking down sobbing while attached to the interferential current therapy machine. I cut out of there as quickly as possible and returned home to the condo that had been the place where I found myself again after heartbreak, where I rebuilt my life, where I became a triathlete. I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye.
I spent the first few days in denial, telling only my closest friends, and then I started to think about possible upsides to my impending move. I decided to use this as an opportunity to reduce my belongings, because with the skyrocketing costs of the Toronto housing market, I knew there was a likelihood I would be downsizing my space. I also thought that if I was lucky, maybe I could find a place near my friend who was expecting a baby. The idea of getting to be close to another tiny human and a very dear friend was a definite potential upside.
As I began apartment hunting, I decided that I wanted to prioritise saving so that I could put money aside in order to buy in the future. After a stressful search, I ended up finding a cute and spacious basement studio that would save me about $500/month and was only a five minute walk from my friend and her new baby. These were two fantastic silver linings.
The KonMari Process
Once I got through the stress of locking down housing, I started thinking about how I was going to tackle the packing and downsizing process. Lucky for me, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo dropped on netflix, and I decided to apply the KonMari process to my belongings in order to move on to this new chapter with only the items that truly sparked joy.
Marie’s approach forces you to confront how much you own by building piles of items at each stage. My clothing pile was shocking, and I was baffled at the sheer quantity of glassware I owned. Why does a single person need 40+ glasses?! The process was also intensely emotional. I shed many tears as I came across items that had been hidden away in my drawers, like my Grandfather’s vest and letters, or old books I had written. I appreciated the process of thanking the belongings I would not be keeping, as it allowed me to honour what they’d brought to my life.
Undertaking this process enabled me to enjoy the last month in my condo in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. What surprised me most of all were unexpected side effects, like suddenly being driven to make my bed every day and fold laundry as soon as it was done out of the dryer. I was surprised how emotionally clear and fresh I felt after removing so many items from my home. I was twenty-one garbage bags, two bins of books, and two boxes of kitchenware lighter, and I felt that weight lifted in more ways than one. The empowering satisfaction of tidying up was another incredible silver lining with lasting benefits.
The Move of Mishaps
By the time my move finally came around, I felt totally prepared. Two days before, my sister asked me if I was stressed, and I told her that I wasn’t. I think I jinxed myself, because that was the night when everything started to go wrong. First, I went to pick up my keys in -36C, and they weren’t there. I took out my phone to call, and it died in the cold. I rushed to my friend’s house who gave me wine, a blanket and lent me her computer to email my landlord. In the end, her husband kindly picked up my keys for the me the next day.
On Thursday, I felt I had organized things so well that I could run out to Pearson airport to see my friend Ryan. Unfortunately, forces were working against us. First the streetcar froze to the tracks, and I ran to Union station in -30 only to learn that the train was running on reduced capacity due to weather. I fumed thinking it was cutting into the precious little time I had with Ryan; but when I arrived at the airport, his plane was still stuck on the tarmac. Once he finally deplaned, it took 45 minutes for his bag to arrive. In the end, we only got fifteen minutes together. I was incredibly disappointed though he told me that my effort had made his day. When I went to catch the train home and learned I had missed it by two minutes and would have to wait another 45 I finally broke down and cried. When at last I got home, I finished packing and went for one last swim in my pool. The pool had been the primary reason I chose my condo, and I would miss it terribly. Quietly, I told it thank you, and said goodbye.
Friday morning was moving day, and my friend said ‘well, yesterday was so bad today couldn’t possibly be worse’. Unfortunately, the universe disagreed. When I went downstairs to finalize my elevator booking, the concierge informed me that due to human error, someone else had it booked. As a result, my movers had to use the regular elevators, and the move took twice as long costing me overage fees. I then ubered across the city, arriving at my new place to find that there was a small flood in the kitchen and living area. At this point I wondered who in the universe I’d pissed off.
Before my movers were done, my friend Andrew showed up and immediately started to pitch in. I was so grateful to have a friend there to support me at the end of this unexpectedly dramatic move. As I settled into my cold and musty basement I tried not to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, Andrew jumped into action and started to put together my bed for me. The landlord sent over a handyman who looked for the source of the leak, to no avail.
By Friday evening, my angel friend had helped me put together a living room (and by helped, I mean a solid 70% was his doing… I’m not terribly handy and he had a vision). Andrew’s presence on Friday was a reminder of the amazing quality of people that I have in my life which was yet another silver lining. Without him, I think I would have fallen apart.
Over Saturday and Sunday, I settled into my home. The plumber fixed the leak, I visited with my friend and her baby and the dark cloud of my bad luck finally abated. As I hung my last piece of art on Sunday morning, I looked around with a sense of satisfaction. I had created a beautiful space that felt like me. After I finished unpacking, I explored my new neighbourhood, which has so much to offer, and I found myself on the verge of tears realizing how content I felt, and had a deep sense that I would be happy here. Moving is one of the most stressful life events, and this move came with unexpected challenges. But, I found my silver linings through the storm and I held on tight; sometimes they’re the only things that get you through.