For the Want of a House

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve put pen to paper / finger to keyboard, and basically the reason is that our lives are really fucking tough right now! So it’s hard to be breezy about fun pants I want to own, or shouty about my grand desires for a coherent motherhood identity, or thoughtful about my suspicion that if women were given the reigns to the world, we wouldn’t be driving it off a cliff the way the men seem to be. (How ironic is it that the final frame of an iconic feminist film is basically happening IRL because white dudes can’t get it the fuck together?) I mean, I would love to write a post equal parts panting and sarcastic about Brad “Still hot?” Pitt’s self-indulgent photoshoot with GQ, but I can’t, because I don’t have time to read the accompanying article or even scroll all the way to the end of the photos. However, I do suspect I will find him double-hot now, because I am nothing if not a magpie for complicated situations.

ANYWAY. Our lives are on fire because we got evicted last month, and had to move all our worldly possessions—except the baby’s eight million most vital toys—into a storage locker, and go live with my in-laws for a month. Only it wasn’t a month, because after we moved all our boxes into our wee little apartment (shared with another couple, of course, because this is Toronto and a walk-up 2.5 bedroom on a main drag costs a boatload), we discovered that once the boxes were in, there was no room for us.

Moving with a toddler is—how should I put this?—the fucking pits. Nothing is babyproofed, and his mission is to zero in on the most dangerous thing in the room and then grab at it. He does not want to be worn; he wants to explore the knife block on the floor and then fall down the stairs. There is no Yes Space. The entire apartment is a No Space for everyone, including me.

(Side note: I am not a minimalist, per se. I like a bit of clutter. I have notes from high school that I passed with my bestie. I hang onto CDs, still, despite it being a dying technology. I have clothes from my pre-baby days that go beyond aspirational into laughable. I am comfortable with tchotchkes. My husband takes it a step further. His is maximalist, more-is-more, imperialistic approach to space: it should be conquered, preferably with a horror DVD or a concert tee-shirt. He’s also intensely nostalgic and uncomfortable with change; his version of the KonMari method is that we talk about how much stuff we have to get rid of as we heave it from place to place, slowly accumulating more. Moving is intense in our house for a lot of reasons, but the big one is that it creates so many goddamn feelings.)

Anyway, wrapped up in this move is a lot of feelings for me, too: feelings about being in a city that turns out to be inhospitable to mothers and families; feelings about paying the aforementioned boatload for an apartment that is fine, but certainly not a Princess Cruise; feelings about wanting a house with a yard (I thought it was a cliche, but NS loves his grandparent’s yard and will happily spend 45 minutes examining various blades of grass or dragging around a favourite stick); wanting to be closer to my own parents, who don’t live in Toronto; and just wanting a chance to take a full inhale and exhale without something else erupting into a fever dream. This last year has been so hard, and the amount of stuff—emotional, physical, literal—that is piled up around us is threatening to block out the sun.

I know the storyline about Millennials is that we’re all coddled and entitled, but goddamn, it is stressful feeling like this city is slowly trying to squeeze us out, like a K-car on a highway full of Audis. Right now, all I want is a bedroom that’s more than 70″ wide (our current one…is not…), in a house that’s down the street from my parents. I want a beat-up little learner car in the driveway, a yard for NS to romp around in, and a little gang of sarcastic, funny, death-before-dishonor small-town mom friends with whom I can circle the strollers and drink matcha lattes. I want to do good work in a house that is filled with light and colour, that we can’t get evicted from, that is a home. I want those things so goddamn bad, and I do not have those things right now, and so I feel lousy. Like a traveller who has a north star to guide her, but no path to follow, I want a home for my family without a vision of how to get there. But may the boxes I burn light the way, at least for now.

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Kaitlyn Kochany
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Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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