I was carrying laundry upstairs when I saw it – the cracks in the ceiling around the skylight. My partner had mentioned it the other day, assuring me he could fix it.
I knew he could. Once I came home to find he had redone all the walls in the bathroom of our rented apartment to fix some moisture damage.
I smiled at the memory.
Then it happened, something that hasn’t happened since we moved into this house almost 16 months ago.
I missed the apartment.
For six years I live in an old three-story walk-up on King Edward Avenue in Sandy Hill.
Its big rooms, textured walls, curved archways and little balcony were where it all began. It was where I became an adult, where the man and I started our life together and where we started our family.
I loved that apartment and had since the moment I first saw its dirty, run down, about-to-be-renovated self. It had character and I knew right away it would be perfect.
We never treated the apartment like a rental. We hung art work, made “adjustments” and even painted a huge mural in our daughter’s bedroom. It wasn’t the best place for a kid but we made it work and we were happy. The apartment was the first place since my parents’ house that really felt like home.
We had no intention of buying a house.
Then one evening, some people we didn’t know all that well mentioned that the house next door to them was for sale. That same night, we looked up the listing out of nosy curiosity, saw the pictures and got a strange feeling. Even though we weren’t looking to buy a house and had never even considered going to look at a house, we had to go see this house.
We saw the house first thing the next morning, spent the rest of the morning Googling “How to buy a house” and by that afternoon our offer was accepted.
There was no discussion, no hesitation. Much like the apartment, we just knew it was supposed to be our home.
I love that my daughter now has a backyard with a garden, neighbourhood kids to play with and a safe street to ride her bike on. I love that the man has a little workshop and a bigger kitchen and that there isn’t a ton of stuff stored under our bed. I love that I no longer have to walk four blocks to get to my car or down a narrow a fire escape to do laundry. I love not being woken up by drunk people and I’m no longer desensitized to the sound of a siren. I love everything about our home and our neighbourhood.
So why was I suddenly so sad?
Because those skylight cracks made me feel that in some ways life was simpler in the apartment…in terms of money, the to-do list and decision making.
Because walking up the stairs made me realize that in the apartment we were always together. Even if I was reading a book and the man was working on his bike, we were right next to each other.
Because the apartment was filled with so many memories.
In our excitement to move, we never really gave the apartment a proper good bye. We should have slept on the empty floor in our sleeping bags, drank one last bottle of wine on the balcony, done something fun when we painted over the mural and paused to sit on the lobby staircase that our toddler loved so much.
But I guess it’s like that for a lot of the significant stuff. We look back fondly at high school, university, that one epic summer, a wedding or the baby stage, wondering what we’d do differently, forgetting much of the bad and remembering the good. Sometimes it’s the opposite.
I suppose I’ll eventually forget about the cracks around the skylight and hauling my kid’s laundry up and down the stairs and just remember the backyard BBQs, garden fresh beans, kitchen parties and quiet moments on the couch. I suppose eventually the cracks will tell stories beyond just that of the leaky skylight, providing an endless supply of smile worthy memories.
This house feels like home and always has, I guess I’m just waiting for it to feel like our only home.