April 1, 2007:
I woke up anxious in my townhouse. Today was the day. I climbed out of the small, cold bed in the “guest room.” I was the only guest that had slept there in the 5 months that we’d owned the house. And this would be the last time. All my belongings were packed in boxes around me, and friends were on their way with a moving van. I had told my wife I was leaving her, and today was the day I took possession of my apartment in midtown Toronto.
I took my clothes, my guitars, my computer, and my cats. Everything else stayed in the small town with my now-ex wife. The friends showed up, we loaded the van, and we left town for the last time. Quickly dumping my possessions in the apartment, we drove off to Loblaws and Costco, getting me set up with everything else I would need. Three weeks prior, we’d bought all my furniture on a local “don’t pay for 15 months” deal. It would all be delivered on April 3. I wouldn't realize it for a couple of months, but my wife had thrown away all my photographs and records. One more way of signifying a new start, I guess...
I went to bed that night, sleeping on a blanket on the wood floor, my alarm clock at my head. “This is pathetic,” I thought. "I’m starting from scratch, but this is really hard." That night I noticed that the elevators were right behind my bedroom wall. Their rumbling woke me a few times during the night, adding to my insecurity. Did I really make the right decision? I left my wife after one too many fights. I was getting too close to actually hitting her, and I won’t become that guy. I tried as hard as I could, I went to counseling even though it was obvious that she wasn’t willing to work on the marriage. But did I try everything? Was there something I’d overlooked, a magical way to fix my family? Could I have stayed in my house, with my comfortable furniture? Did I really need to be sleeping on the floor of my empty apartment? I worried. I second-guessed. But really, I knew I had made the right move. For both of us.
April 1, 2012: Five years later.
I woke up relaxed in my townhouse. I was on the leather sofa I purchased 5 years ago on a “don’t pay for 15 months” deal. It was the right thing to do – my wife is sick. I don’t want to get sick, and this way she can sprawl across the entire mattress like she does every morning when I leave for work. This is not the same wife as five years ago. I haven’t seen that one since I left. This is a new wife, we married 18 months ago. This is a happy marriage. This is a happy home. This is a new home – we took possession a month ago, but spent the month moving our belongings over after painting and fixing up a few oddities in the townhouse. We have a lot more crap than my stripped-down relocation a half-decade ago. It’s mostly not stuff we need, but the trinkets that add to this being a home.
We left the sterile midtown apartment eagerly. It was a nice, safe neighbourhood. But it was a boring neighbourhood. We traded that safety for character. I’ve already spoken more to the neighbours here than with the midtown residents during my entire 5-year span in the apartment.
Now, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m making the right decisions. That I made the right decision five years ago, that I made the right decision two months ago when we decided to move again. That pretty much all my decisions since April 1 2007 have been the right ones. Because they have gotten me here, to where I am today.
Having said that, here’s the “character” I saw when I walked outside this afternoon:. Yup, that’s the Forensic Identification Unit. Just out of the shot is a lot of yellow tape blocking off a small park.