The past 2 months has been what I can only now classify as creative atrophy. Looking for a new home has taken much longer than I anticipated. I was unwilling to settle for something that didn’t feel right. After all — hadn’t I just gotten myself out of several situations that really didn’t feel right? It seemed ridiculous to settle now. At first I had a laundry list of what I wanted in a place, with “clawfoot tub” of course sitting occupying spot #1, followed by a ridiculous amount of other traits (including randomness like “kitchen window to look out while dish-doing” and “ability to have garden windowboxes, preferably South facing”). Admittedly, I was aiming high. Essentially I was searching for my last place, embodied in different walls. But as time progressed, I began to understand that not only are clawfoot tubs next to impossible to find, all the other things I had added to the list were also seeming pretty unobtainable. Frustration ensued. Depression. More regret. Living at my parents house in Maple Ridge (which sans-car felt about as removed from civilization as Nunavut, comparatively) didn’t help matters. I love and appreciate them like crazy, but it was their life I found myself in, not mine. It became abundantly clear that I needed to compromise… and although I felt I had compromised everything in the last 5 months, as long as I had the tub, I reasoned, it really didn’t really matter about the rest. Anything else would be a bonus.
I had kept in contact with the manager of my old building and asked him to keep me posted on vacancies. He had mentioned that a large suite would be opening mid-July, and it would be almost identical to the place my cousin was currently living in. I didn’t think I could wait that long, I said. Although he knew I was looking for a 1-bedroom, he mentioned that they had just evicted a man who had lived in a bachelor suite for 11 years. But he had been both a recluse and a chain smoker, so the place was in pretty rough shape. Although I had no desire to live in a bachelor suite, my curiosity to look at the bachelor suite won. So I agreed to check it out.
Holy hell, was I unprepared for the state of the apartment when I walked into it — despite the landlord’s forewarning of the disgusting condition. I discovered that not only was smoking his favorite hobby, but he was also an expert at avoiding cleaning and not taking out the garbage… FOR ELEVEN YEARS. Without a word of exaggeration, this man could not have cleaned that apartment a single time that he lived there. It was like a scene from “Hoarders”. There was garbage piled everywhere, and this was apparently after the they had already trucked out 4 gigantic bins to the dumpster, including a pretty impressive collection of porn VHS tapes from the 80′s. Cobwebs clung to every wall, and the smell of stale smoke hung so thick that I had to cover my mouth with my jacket sleeve to quell the urge to throw up. It was horrendous. Instantly, it was confirmed: not only did I not want to live in a bachelor suite, there was no way in hell I could ever live in that bachelor suite.
In the meantime, living in Maple Ridge became increasingly more stifling, creatively speaking. I had not written, taken photos or done much of anything aside from sleep, eat, job-hunt, and dream of a new life since I got here. My wheels were spinning.
Long story somewhat shorter: I imagined this amazing life in this end-of-July, large 1-bedroom upstairs apartment without actually seeing it. When I finally did see it, it left a lot to be desired. The interior bones were different from my cousin’s suite that I was basing my image upon. And honestly, it just didn’t feel… mine.
One heart, sank.
I was so conflicted. This is the problem that arises when you live much of your life in your mind before it tangibly unfolds in reality. Back to the drawing board. I went to ask the landlord to continue to keep me posted about future vacancies. He was deep in the midst of reinventing the Hoarder’s Den. I was absolutely astonished by it’s transformation. It’s pretty incredible what a few coats of paint, ripping out of hideous filthy carpet, trucking out 2 tons of toxic garbage, several weeks of fumigation, and complete gutted renovation can do. It was beginning to shape up beautifully! The inlaid floors were in gorgeous shape (that was one thing I always longed for in my old place… hardwoods). The black & white tiles were laid in the kitchen, the clawfoot was in the living room, waiting to be reglazed. The windows, beyond repair, are set to be replaced with double paned ones to keep out the street noise from 12th. The new appliances ordered. It was a work-in-progress — but still, all of a sudden, I realized…
This was my little apartment.
I would end up paying substantially more than I would if I chose to take another bachelor suite down the hall, due to all the cost incurred while renovating the Hoarder’s Den. But it seemed worth it because this would be new and clean and quaint and wonderful. It had the tub, the tiles, the high coved ceilings, the floors, heritage built-ins, a kitchen window! This apartment had everything I was looking for… only bite-sized. This apartment was giving me the vibe that I had been waiting for from all the other larger places I had been checking out. This little place was giving me the sense that I could live within her walls quite happily, despite her small stature. I was as surprised as anyone to realize this.
This was my new home.
Now realistically — I know myself, and I have lived in bachelor suites at previous stages in my life. It’s tough. I like having space to create, and make a mess, and lay on the floor in the middle of the living room listening to records and drinking wine. But this apartment didn’t have a living room. Or rather, it had one LARGE living room, and no bedroom. Admittedly, it was going to be a huge challenge condensing all my stuff into one minuscule space. I would need to be more organized. I began taking a lot of inspiration from Apartment Therapy’s website, and it’s “Small Cool” contest — where people who live in small apartments send in photos of their homes and discuss how they deal with the challenges of condensed living… (some with only 200-300 sq ft, which make this bachelor suite’s 430 sq. ft. seem spacious!).
I understand that it’s unlikely I will live in this place for much longer than 6 months… ultimately I want to have a place that is not right on 12th — a place I can actually put roots down in. Luckily, I will have first dibs on any other apartment that may come up in the building, so I can continue to be choosy, IN VANCOUVER. But for now, I am prepared to take a beautiful tiny apartment for an undetermined amount of time. For now, I’m prepared to think of this place as my home and make it amazing, as best as I can. For now, I’m really just excited about the thought of picking up my life and getting on with things, already. I’m hoping once the reno’s are done (mid-May) and I’m settled in, I’ll be able to carve out a space that’s all my own, and my currently-on-life-support creativity will be revived.
Next up, just a few other small details: new job, finding a boyfriend, financial stability, general grown-up-edness, dinner parties hosted in a teeny apartment. Baby steps… one square foot at a time.