Archive for December 21st, 2012

December 21, 2012

Places I’ve Called Home

It’s that time of year again.  I’m moving again.  It’s another normal transition for the nomad.  This move is a bit more special than usual however.  Firstly, I am not moving to another city; I’m just moving to a new place in Toronto where I already am.  And secondly, I am moving to my first ever bachelor apartment.  So I thought this would be a good moment to reminisce on the places where I’ve lived.  I have had my share of a variety of living situations.  Here it goes, in chronological order!

Cambridge:  Lived in a room in a tiny little cottage of a house with an elderly lady.  She had a cat that sounded like a vacuum cleaner.  Because she always had the door open during the day and I didn’t get into the habit of closing up on the way out, I remember the time I left my keys at home and got locked out.  I had left studio at two in the morning and tromped through a foot of snow to get home (the taxis weren’t running the weather was so bad), only to discover that I didn’t have my keys and had to tromp all the way back to the school.  I then floundered my way to a friends place where I stayed the night.

Cambridge:  Lived in the loft of a house with four Asian female classmates and a random Caucasian guy in his thirties.  I never understood why he bothered living there.  My favourite memory is of Dance Dance Revolution with the ladies.  I got pretty good over time and it was an excellent stress reliever.

Cambridge:  I worked in Cambridge over the summer but was too lazy to move house (and was quite comfortable in my loft).  The four girls moved out and four engineering guys moved in.  Three of them were absolutely disgustingly messy, and one of them was very neat and tidy.  I became friends with the one guy, and hardly ever saw the others.  I had to complain on one particular day when the smell of body odour came wafting up to the loft.  I did a looot of kitchen cleaning that summer, although I didn’t complain because at least I had the time!

Cambridge:  I decided it was time to downsize the number of housemates.  I had become friends with Andrea Soto and we decided to find a place together.  We found two rooms shared in a house with a middle-aged lady.  There was only one real downside to the situation:  My room was the lady’s son’s old room, and he had painted it black.  So I embarked on painting it before the semester was to begin, and transformed it from a dark and gloomy hole of a room, to a bright and cheerful space.  And of course, I had to pick the most obnoxiously contrasting colour, and selected a bright, golden yellow.  What a transformation!

Edmonton:  I found my first co-op job in Edmonton Alberta, and found out my employer was hiring two of my classmates as well.  Because we had heard bad stories about getting places in Edmonton without being there to see it, we decided to stay instead in a student residence in the downtown.  The location was ideal, though the rooms themselves were bland.  The living area (which consisted of a kitchenette and a tiny table) had no windows, and the floors were bare concrete.  The kitchenette didn’t have an oven and so we bought a toaster oven and quickly discovered its capabilities.  Andrea Soto was my room-mate and we actually cooked dinner together every night.

Cambridge:  Andrea and I definitely didn’t want to go back to our last place, and so we looked for an actual two-bedroom apartment.  We eventually found one for sublet and it was probably the best set up we’d had yet.

Toronto:  Finding places to live in downtown Toronto on a budget can always be an adventure.  I found a place in a Victorian house – converted into a multiple rooming house, in the beautiful Annex neighborhood.  Location was excellent, but I didn’t enjoy sharing a tiny kitchen and washroom with five people who also weren’t interested in meeting their neighbours.  It was strange to feel lonely but be living with such a large group of people.  The other thing I missed was having a living room.

Cambridge:  For the first time, I moved back to a place I had lived before!  Andrea and I took the sublet on the two bedroom apartment for a second term.

Toronto:  Because it was summer, I found a room in a student residence at the University of Toronto.  The rates go way down in the summer because the residences never fill up.  It was much better than my last Toronto place.  I could even lock my bike up in the parking garage.  I had two really friendly female housemates and every once in a while we would hang out.

Lausanne, Switzerland:  I was all excited to live with french speaking people.  That dream was crushed when I discovered how many non-french speaking international students attend the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.  I lived in a student residence with a Finnish couple, a Turkish girl, and one super shy French guy who I only ever got two words from.  Unfortunately we never bonded.  I befriended some people from other apartments on the compound though, and have one memory of an awesome cheese fondu night.

Toronto:  This time around I was looking closer to the West end, and my ideal situation was to find a room in a house with some friendly people.  That’s exactly what I found in the hipster neighbourhood of little Portugal in the house of a former Waterloo architecture graduate.

Rome, Italy:  I grouped up with several friends from my class to find a place together in the neighbourhood of Trastevere in Rome.  We found a great place that embodied the Italian feel.  It had marble floors, tall ceilings, and tall shuttered windows.  We were even above a small restaurant and could hear an accordion play occasionally.  To make it affordable, we had to share rooms and I shared with my good friend and classmate Vikkie.  There was a stupidly huge desk occupying our room when we moved in, and so we shoved it to the center of the room where it proudly served as a shared desk that we both sat at and used from either side.

Kampala, Uganda:  During my internship with Engineering Ministries International, I lived in a small apartment with two other female interns and shared a room.  We lived comfortably compared to many people there, but still lacked many of the normal comforts.  We slept under mosquito netting, it was very hot but we had no air-conditioning, we only had power every-other day, we didn’t always have a water supply, and we lived behind bars in a compound.  We had a great time living together.  Every evening we would join up with the male interns and cook dinners for seven people, and just hang out and play games or watch a movie (the chosen activity dependent on if the power was on or off).  We were like a big family and now I actually miss cooking dinners for so many people!

Cambridge:  Probably my best living situation in Cambridge yet, I lived in a beautiful house with three friends/classmates.  We had the whole house for our use, we lived across from a park, and there was a dishwasher, air-conditioning, and a beautiful piano!  It felt luxurious compared to Africa!

Toronto:  I am currently living in the house of a middle-aged lady, ironically two doors down from where I used to live in Toronto.  I think the old Portuguese couple who lives in between these two places must be confused.  They always sit on their front porch, and I used greet them everyday from the one side, and now I do the same from the other.

Toronto my current home:  And last but not least, I am moving to a new place near Bloor and Lansdowne for January.  It is a tiny studio bachelor apartment in a house.  It is super small with just a bathroom, a tiny kitchenette, and one small living/bedroom.  I am looking forward to calling it my own though.  Reasons I like it are that it has good light (poorly lit basement apartments are prevalent in Toronto), it is in a fun neighbourhood (there is a bouldering gym nearby, lots of vintage shops, and great restaurants), and it has a fire escape that I can sort of use as a balcony or a separate entrance.  The landlord is also willing to cover the cost of paint, and so I’m going to hopefully give it a fresh look before I move in.  I even have an idea to build a loft bed so that I can better use the living space.  We’ll see if I ever get to that!  In January I will definitely be planning a house-warming party so that more people can know where I’m at.  I look forward to the day when I will stop moving around so often and can actually take the time to design a nice living space and be able to effectively host people.  *Sigh*.  Some day.