Home Is Where…

by  Christian A. Brown  |  April 9, 2017  |     No Comments

Today’s featured image is of Mouse: everyone’s favorite sass-talking hero from the Feasts saga. Mouse spends most of the story rediscovering her innocence as well as her sense of family–two blessings that have been stripped from her through cruel circumstance. Without a home, we don’t have an anchor. Without family, friends and companions (animal, in my case), we don’t have much meaning to that space even once we own it. At least these are the lessons that Mouse learns, and which are hardly unique to her tale.

My partner and I have been in search of a new place, a home, since December of last year. Our current place is great, though it was chosen premaritally, by myself and my mom (who gave me some of the down-payment as a parental, ‘you’re all grown up now’, gift). That sense of ‘home’ was never really present for J. Even after we renovated the place to our tastes, it still felt–to him–like a dream of what could be, had we chosen everything together. I get that, and understand that it’s not just him suffering from a case Princess-and-the-Pea fussiness. So a while back we made the decision that it was time to move and to take that first step, which we’d kinda missed, in choosing a home.

We got pre-approved for a mortgage, set up our place for showings (to rent, ideally), and leapt into the market eager and ready to find our dream home. Reality has a habit of kicking enthusiastic people in the teeth, and the first boot came when we realized how little inventory there was on the market. At the moment, Toronto’s real estate market is a bit like Vancouver’s before the downturn: ever-rising housing prices that have spilled over into the condo (our preferred) market. Families now look for two bedroom apartments instead of two bedroom bungalows, because property taxes and the cost of owning even a pitiable plot of land in a reasonably desirable area are so astronomical. We backed out of making a number of offers since there were ten or more persons already bidding; this, in an inflated market in which it would take years to recoup any money we lost in overpaying for a home. Which is the bigger issue: most of the properties we saw, and which were on the market, were pretty average. Basic builder cabinets and finishes. It was astonishing to me that people would pay so much ($500,000+) for something that didn’t have a personal stamp, or even an impression of warmth–those families also needed those spaces more than we did, so backing out was even easier.

I mean, we’re not millionaires, but as you can see we put a lot of love into our home. We took our standard builder’s box and gutted it: right down to the cement and studs. What you’re looking at is six months of blood, sweat and tears renos. Six months of sleeping on a mattress covered in sawdust in the middle of our toaster oven/mini-fridge/mattress all-in-one-living room; of arguing with contractors; of hunting down and refurbishing antique furniture (our dining set is made of piecemeal 18th century antiques that we dragged out of a barn and paid $200 for!); of firing (a hugely incompetent) designer and taking on the oversight myself while somehow managing to write Feast of Dreams on my dust-choked laptop.

My partner and I are tremendously proud of our home, and attached to our space, which is why it’s so hard to leave it, and likely why we feel as if other living spaces are lacking that spark. After looking at over fifty properties (alert the vatican of saintly patience of Richard Persaud at Right at Home Realty!), we realized we wouldn’t be able to just jump into another person’s space: we needed to create another one, together. Albeit with less anger, dust and tears this time. Once that epiphany hit us, we started looking at new projects, which offered wide amounts of customization and personalization. Just this week, we finalized an offer on a 2+2+1 suite at Eau Du Soleil. Ground’s already broken, building is half way up. We move in July(ish) 2018.

I suppose we learned that it’s quite hard–if not impossible–to recreate a specific state of happiness. Creating something new, and possibly better, is not.

All my love,

–C

P.S. Health update. Whew! I’m almost certain that the mucocele (mentioned last week) was caused by the strong enzymatic reaction of taking fermented cod liver oil, which I’ve recently added to my diet as a supplement. Last night, after taking a dose, I immediately developed another mucocele; quite a large one, actually, which went away within an hour. The appearance of the previous “lesion”, suspected as a mucocele, coincides with what would be the only change in my habitual diet/ routine: cod liver oil. I’m going to switch to cod liver oil in pill form now, and I’ll still get a definitive biospsy result back this week, though I’m not expecting anything unusual.

Obvious lesson: be careful what you put in your mouth–even if you think it’s healthy! I’ll leave you now to commence any and all filthy jokes pertaining to the first part of my statement. 

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