Sunday, August 1, 2021


on a rather busy corner in a painfully expensive city sits a big purple house. our house. it's 112 years old and surely has a great many stories tucked away in its ever-expanding archives. the walls are thin and the floors creek and the ceilings slant and it always feels just a touch damp. on nights when sleep is scarce, i lay awake worrying on repeat about mold, rodents, old trees on the cusp of collapse, how quickly the wooden structure would go up in flames if ever a spark were to wander. 

but it's a beautiful old house. a place that has kept us warm from the rain. where we've baked bread and watched our babies grow. a place we've celebrated birthdays and christmases and welcomed family and friends from all over the country. a place close to the beach and the mountains, our favourite book store, and a short walk to the best coffee this side of main street. it's a place that has kept us safe. 

the house has shape-shifted over the years. originally built as a single family home, it has since been split into three separate suites. we live on the ground floor, our landlords live above us with their two daughters and a bird-snatching cat, and a revolving batch of young couples and working professionals pass through the top floor suite. some staying for a short while, others departing before the seeds of neighbourly friendship can be sown.   

living underfoot of someone for any amount of time inevitably teaches you a lot about them - their daily rhythms and patterns. guitar strumming echoing in the heating vents, the smell of sunday dinner intensifying as the afternoon creeps forward, long forgotten loads of laundry rediscovered in the communal dryer, foot stomping and smoke alarms and dance parties and movies played just a touch too loud. we catch the occasional argument, belly laugh, loud sneeze, the bathtub being drawn followed by a holler for sticky children to hop in. kitchen chairs screeching across the floor, the faint tapping of small cat paws prancing, the outside gate slamming shut behind each coming and going.  

we've also been there for many of the hard things too; miscarriages, lost jobs, closing businesses, the death of far away family and pets, and, perhaps worst of all, cancer. 

there is something truly breathtaking about seeing your life seamlessly intertwine with another. to silently invite people in to witness you at your best and worst and mundane in between, without ever actually saying a single word. to sit side by side, above and below, and lay out your most intimate and vulnerable moments on any given tuesday. slowly over time, inevitably and without any conscious consideration, you become a family. connected through proximity and closeness and routine and the best and gentlest kind of force. 

and so, leaving this behind feels impossible. how do you transition away from people, from family, that you've known so deeply for so long? how do you leave and try to begin speaking words when words never needed to be shared? how do you move out from underfoot and watch someone new take up that space? 

how do you start all over again?