Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A place of our own.

Well, nine months after moving from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Ottawa, Ontario we have completed our second move- from the house we rented to the home that we bought.

We're happy with our new home. That's not to say that it is perfect but it has potential. I am still physically exhausted from packing. It took almost a week to pack and even so there are still things to bring over from the other house. Fortunately we don't live far from our former place.

I totally underestimated the amount of time that it would take to pack everything up. I think that there are probably several reasons why I only managed to pack about 3 boxes a day for the first few days. I was also trying to organize all of the paperwork that we had accumulated since moving to Ottawa- renovation receipts and notes for our house in Winnipeg; the contract with our real estate agent; the offer and signed purchase agreement with the people who bought our house; the lease for the house that we've been renting in Ottawa, the school applications, immunization records, allergy records, school notices, homework, certificates and artwork that has been saved with pride; and then the offer to purchase this house, the house inspectors copious notes on what was wrong with our new home, and the list just goes on.

I also tried to surreptitiously throw-out some of the kids things such as clothing beyond repair and craft projects made of toilet paper and toilet paper rolls, tape, string and shoe boxes. I feel guilty throwing away (or putting them in the recycling box) because I know that to the kids everything that they have made is important to them. But if I kept all of it we would need much more space and frankly my sanity would be at risk from the clutter...

So on the days that the movers arrived my husband and I were still packing. And packing and packing and...By the time that the movers had finished delivering their second load to our house I was still at the house packing things but was doing it all while crawling or scooting around on my butt. My hips had lost all cohesion and my leg muscles were no longer able to respond to any type of effort for long.

At one point I was sitting upstairs (organizing more papers!) and crawling around with a box that I pulled around with me to pick up little bits of toys, barrettes and torn bits of paper from the floor. So actually I guess that I was pulling a box and a garbage bag around with me. Finally all that I could think about was how completely exhausted I was.

You know when you're so tired you feel as though you're on the verge of tears? That's how I felt. Too tired to cry and yet just below the surface tears sat waiting for me to let go. Instead I decided to text a friend who has just moved to London, England. I wanted to talk to her because her move is still going on as well and I knew that her experience with the exhaustion and stress of moving were probably still fresh (if not ongoing).

It took so long to write a message to her that I had that sense of removed shock, observation with a hint of this is a bit upsetting, my fingers aren't working...

I must admit that my fingers have felt weaker for a while now. Has it been a few months? A year? I don't know. It's so easy to not take notice of gradual changes. Especially when they're unwelcome.

On the positive side I feel so much happier to be in my own home. My forever home (presumably). I wasn't a very happy renter. I rented apartments in my late teens and through my twenties but they were places that had seen many other tenants, they weren't houses that a family had put any love and care into like the house we just moved out of. I never felt relaxed in that house. It was pretty but incredibly poorly laid out. The house had no flow and wasted space. For me it was extra frustrating because it meant that I had to make much more physical effort to get from point a to b- more footsteps to walk around needless barriers, more stairs to walk up and down...but when we came to buy a house in August we simply couldn't find one in our price range and with accessibility in mind.

The house we chose to rent wasn't ideal, because it was a two story home, but at least it had a washroom on the main floor (well, actually one step up from the main floor). The neighbourhood was full of children which meant our children would have opportunities to make friends nearby. The fact that the rent was probably only two or three-hundred dollars more a month than houses that were utterly decrepit was also significant in our decision to live there for a while.

After eight months of searching for a 1 story house and finding nothing affordable for a family of four I began to slip into another depression. I began to think that moving to Ottawa was utter folly. By then we had sold our house in Winnipeg (we had been renovating our house for 8 years and with the decision to move within a short period of time we had to renovated long distance, we hired a general contractor, another contractor to finish the master bathroom that we had begun only a month earlier and my husband and I each travelled back to Winnipeg a few times to put in some work on the house as well).  So, to consider the fact that we might never be able to have a house that was accessible for me was pretty devastating.

A few friends and family suggested looking at multi-storied homes and installing chair lifts. I balked at that idea. Not only because I am not emotionally ready to use one, but also because walking up and down stairs occasionally is good exercise for me but more specifically I was unwilling to buy a house that going to complicate my life. It was challenging enough packing a bag every morning to take downstairs with me and then packing up another bag or two through out the day in order to keep a semblance of order to our house. The kids would dress in the living room before school and I really had no desire to have their pyjamas and favourite blankets on the floors, and the sofa. Life was feeling chaotic enough without more things out of place.

I also felt, and yes it's somewhat irrational, that I shouldn't have to buy a house that wasn't serviceable to me. Here I was living in the nations capital and I was discovering that was an incredibly inaccessible city. I felt incredibly angry. I still feel disgust over the lack of accessable houses being built here, but now I can remove myself from those feelings enough to begin to pick up where I left off with my inquiries regarding New-build legislation, which is currently in research and development. Until by-laws are put in place land developers will continue to take short-cuts by using the smallest lot-sizes possible to fit houses and townhouses are. So the city will continue to grow entire communities that have absolutely no houses for me and other people with disabilities.

When I first realized that we couldn't remain in the neighbourhood that we were renting in I felt as though I was experiencing one continuous slap in the face. My children would have to be moved to a different neighbourhood. The neighbours that my husband and I had befriended would no longer be nearby if we felt like a chance cup of coffee or needed a hand with something. It felt so entirely unfair and I felt powerless.

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