On any other day, the sound of the restoration crew jack-hammering the concrete of my apartment would irritate me, as would the resulting dust now coating my windows.
Not today. I’m feeling numb, and unlike the Pink Floyd song, not comfortably so.
I’m looking around my apartment, a place I’ve lived in for 24 years, and the memories keep racing through my mind, a tsunami of emotions and thoughts. It’s a distraction that is keeping me from a task that I don’t want to do, that I wish I didn’t have to do, but know I must do. I have to pack.
I had hoped my last-ditch efforts, as mentioned in my previous blog post, would have turned the tide in my three-and-a-half-year war with unemployment. Those efforts gave me extra breathing room and initially some hope, but in the end it was not enough.
I can no longer afford to live in this apartment. I have to move out, or face eviction.
I talked to my sister and my brother-in-law in Kitchener about my situation and asked if I could stay with them until things got better for me. I’m grateful to have a family with a tradition of helping each other out when the going gets rough. My sister and brother-in-law continued that fine tradition by telling me there’s a spare room for me to stay in their home.
After doing some research at the Landlord And Tenants Board regarding my rights involving the termination of tenancy, I obtained a Form N9, and while it is a very short and easy form to fill out, it felt like writing an essay. Waiting for the elevator to take me downstairs to the management office to drop off the envelope containing the completed form felt like a walk across Toronto.
But it’s done, it’s over. Now I have 65 days to pack 24 years worth of items into bins so they can be put into storage, assuming of course I do not sell or toss out things I no longer need.
The packing and other preparations of the move will be difficult, but there will be other things I will have to deal with. While I thanked my sister and brother-in-law more times in one day than the past year for being there for me, I know the transition to living in their home will be challenging. There are space limitations (including Internet bandwidth usage) and I will be living in an established household. I’m used to having my own space for nearly 25 years and operating on my own schedule. I will need to learn to respect other people’s space and actually have the patience to share resources.
The move will not guarantee a solution to my employment problem. Both Toronto and Kitchener have roughly the same unemployment rate and companies like Blackberry (based in nearby Waterloo) are laying off staff.
I will need to rebuild my social network, both personally and professionally. Aside from my sister, brother, brother-in-law, mother, and two of my sister’s closest friends, I don’t really know anyone in Kitchener. Saying goodbye to my friends and neighbors, some of which I’ve known since college, is going to be brutal. While I’ve done a lot of research on the Tri-City area (composed of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge), Kitchener at first will be terra incognita. I’m going to have some days that will make me feel like King Sisyphus, except in my case I didn’t do anything to deserve being punished like this.
I’ve been given advice on how to deal with this major transition in my life. One person suggested I need to “own Kitchener” What he means is that I need to make the city as familiar to me as Toronto was. He suggests attending many events or just walk around in the evenings and weekends, and to join some Kitchener-based social groups (like book-reading, computer, or poetry clubs or online gatherings like Meetup). Another person I know suggested the concept of rebooting instead of rebuilding my life. “What’s the difference?” you might ask. Well, according to this person, it’s about looking deep inside myself and honestly asking myself if those core elements that make me who I am are still working in my favor. While she is not recommending illegal, unethical or immoral behavior to turn things around, some of these personal traits, which once worked during my earlier years, might not fit the new social and economic order we all know exists today. Maybe I need to give up the belief that technology is THE tool to solve social problems and attempt an approach along the social studies line of thinking. Perhaps it’s high time I started thinking more about myself and not be so giving towards others (though certainly not to the point of being utterly selfish).
The journey I am about to undertake in my life will test me as a person and it could either have a very happy ending regarding my employment or be more of the same of what I am facing now. It could also end up a train-wreck. I cannot predict the future. Then again, there are no guarantees in life, save perhaps this one: if you try something, you will at least elicit a response from the attempt. How I handle that response will determine the future waiting for me in Kitchener.
I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I made a REALLY long video describing pretty much what I stated here, which was the final episode of my series “David Needs A Job”