Moving On

How did I find myself here, again in the middle of boxes?

June 20, 2019 | | Headwaters Nest

I’m sitting in boxes up to my ears. In just two short weeks, we are moving. I’ve taken the day to work from home so I can run out at lunch for a bank appointment and to grab more boxes and packing paper. The movers will be here before we know it. In the little recesses of this 1800s cottage, a number of small parcels of household goods have been stashed away like squirrel treasures. I hope I find them all before the moving date.

How did I find myself here, again in the middle of boxes? Is it an addiction – this real estate Wheel of Fortune? If so, I would come by it naturally, due to a quirky gene my parents both seem to have. They’ve moved well over 20 times in their adult lives – such a high number that, for a number of years, they both held real estate licences to support their (healthy) addiction and to lower the fees on each purchase transaction.

Is the first step admitting you need help? No, I don’t think I’m addicted! When I moved to the “cottage” in downtown Orangeville, things were not going well relationship-wise. It was one of the worst, but most necessary decisions of our lives – to separate. Telling your young child you are separating is not something you can ever prepare for. I couldn’t console our son, and I couldn’t console us. But we knew our relationship, and the cycles we were in, had to stop. My husband Derrick and I found ourselves living close to each other, but apart. They were dark, lonely and disappointing days.

The winter howled around the thick walls of the cottage. It withstood the winter storms and stayed warm inside. It felt secure to me, and with my son Adrian coming one week and going the next, I tried to carve out a new routine on my own. I sent thoughts to my house: “I will look after you, if you look after me.”

I tried to lighten myself and my space, and to prepare for Christmas. I started a kitchen renovation by tearing everything down to the lath. However, the days were about to get darker. My brother died suddenly in February. I lost my job a month later in a restructuring. An ice storm split the tree in front of the house, blocking the driveway. I flew to Florida to help my parents drive home during their grief – and sprained my ankle severely, ending up on crutches. No driving. To top it off, on the trip home from Florida, I got food poisoning.

I slept through the drive back up Interstate 75, waking only to take Gravol and Pedialyte. When I finally arrived home, I gave up. I couldn’t do anything for myself – I don’t know what I ate, I don’t know if I communicated with friends, I didn’t exercise, and probably didn’t shower. I met with employment lawyers by phone, and the OPP about my brother, but I don’t remember much of it. My wedding rings, and two rings from my late aunt and Gramma went missing in the reno. I didn’t care. The house stayed solid and the renovations continued around me, but I truly didn’t care.

Somehow Derrick stayed the course for our family throughout it all. He, along with a few close friends, made sure I was fed, warm, safe. I remember a lot of time on the couch and a lot of sleep. The dog lay with me, and willed me to walk her. Once in a while I found the leash and my shoes and walked a block.

The renovation was finished. It was beautiful. I tried to make some healthy food. I thought about the bathroom and how it also needed a reno. I must have been feeling a bit better. Derrick invited me to his clean apartment for good, spicy food. He would walk over to get Adrian and end up staying for dinner. When I walked the dog at night, I would send Derrick a text to say, “Look down,” and he would wave to us from his window above Broadway.

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  • Slowly we healed enough that we were spending more time together than apart. The routine of going back and forth for Derrick, Adrian, the dog – it just didn’t make sense. Two years after everything fell apart, we packed Derrick’s apartment and moved back in together.

    Now the space here in the cottage needs a new family to wrap around and keep warm. It’s in much better condition than it was when I bought it three years ago. And as we cleaned up all the squirrelly corners, some things showed up that I thought I would never see again. During the kitchen reno someone had swept the contents of my kitchen shelf into a box for safekeeping. The box was nondescript, full of what looked to be old bills and paperwork. Before pitching it, Derrick dug through it. And there, at the bottom, were my four missing rings.

    Thank you, 7 Third Avenue, for looking after me.


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    About the Author More by Bethany Lee

    Bethany Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Mono.

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