Sunday, March 15, 2009

toward Toronto

Back to the past.
David and I began applying for schools. We both applied to Cambridge and to the University of Toronto, but other than that our choices were different and often in different countries. Applying for an MA is less work than applying for a PhD, and one hears back much faster. By the early months of 2008, I’d already been accepted to most of the schools I’d applied to. The only ones I hadn’t heard from were the ones I’d applied to with David. I couldn’t afford to go to school in the UK, and I doubted I’d win a huge scholarship, but it was still an option at the time. Our fears were laid to rest when we both got accepted to the University of Toronto. Barring Cambridge (David) or Oxford (me) showering us with huge scholarships, we knew we’d be going together come September.

Meanwhile the smaller things that make up life went on. David was preparing a conference paper and working on his thesis. I had received a huge promotion at work and was trying to save money for our move/the upcoming year. Although we were both stressed with our work for various reasons, I at least wasn’t overwhelmed. Winter looked like it was going to end early and we were looking forward to the future. On top of all this, my mum was taking our whole family on vacation to California in May. David and I were both really touched by her generosity of taking him as part of the family and we spent many weeks counting down ‘til the trip.

Our trip to California was awesome. My parents love how easily David fits into our family and how well he and John get along. And I love having everyone together. It was such a great trip for so many reasons, and its something the five of us still talk about when we get together. A trip with five people isn’t always easy, but we managed to pull it off and I know everyone had fun and got to do what they loved. I know that David’s particular “moment to shine” was when he talked us into staying late at Disneyland one night to watch the Fantasmic. No one had seemed that keen at the idea, but he talked us into it and we loved it. As fun as the rides and sights were, the best part was just being together and knowing that the five of us worked as a family. It was encouraging.

All good times must come to an end, however, and we returned to Edmonton and buckets of stress. David had about a month in which to write his thesis, and four months to get it completely finished in. I was back in my tense office, and this was coupled with the details of planning a move across country. We both complained that it didn’t feel like summer, for the weather was inclement and we weren’t relaxing like we should. Looking back I know that we did a lot of fun stuff--going out for drinks and desserts or appies at our favourite restaurants, evening browsing in Chapters (to harass Sarah) or Wee Book Inn, numerous walks, and a little bit of tourist sightseeing, but at the time it didn’t feel like it. We did manage to see family before we left, at least. My aunt & uncle came up for my Great Aunt’s 80th birthday, and that turned into a giant family reunion at her house. Our friend Madeleine came for a few days as well, in a lovely visit that coincided with when David’s parents were also in town visiting. It was not an empty summer, just stressful one with a few bright spots.

August arrived. We’d booked a moving company and we’d found a place to live. I had three weeks of work left. I was frantically trying to pack our household and trying to not be overly annoyed that David was flying home for a week to see family in the middle of a very busy time. It was a very necessary trip, but the timing was not great. Nevertheless I think I was more productive with the house empty, and I know he had a good time back home. Living so far away from home we both take every chance we can to get home and see family, so one needs to make allowances for it not always being most convenient. When David came back we spent a couple of tense weeks finishing packing and getting his MA from Alberta completed. The amount we spent on cab rides between the university and our house does not need mention, but it was a very frantic time. We barely slept the week before we left, staying up late either visiting people or packing or both.

The worst day was, of course, the last day. I had gone to visit my friend Lydia the night before, and David had said nothing about the time so we stayed out at her place until 7am. We were leaving town that day, and we had last minute errands to run, an apartment to finish cleaning, and our stuff to finish packing for the first couple of weeks before the movers brought everything. I was hung over and exhausted and basically unable to function. I think this worked out well, because I tend to be the controlling and organized one. As I was reduced to a heap of jelly, David easily stepped in and had everything organized and done for us to leave. I didn’t need to worry about a thing, even with all the little things that went wrong (like all the stuff we didn’t have room to pack and had to give away/throw out). It was a wonderful lesson for me to see that he was just as capable, if not more so, of stepping in and getting a job done well even with difficulties. Although I hope our next move will be better (please tell me each one gets easier), I was really encouraged by how well we could work as a team, both picking up where the other left off.

We spent our last few ours in Edmonton with his sister. Then followed tearful goodbyes and a long cab ride to the bus station. Because we were poor and hopeful, we hoped that we would survive the 56 hour bus ride to Toronto, which was a lot cheaper than the plane. We did survive, but barely. I don’t think either of us slept much for the last bit of the trip, and we arrived in Toronto exhausted and nervous. Madeleine met us at the bus station and kindly took us for breakfast at a Tim Horton’s (the only place open that early), and then the three of us cabbed from downtown to our new place. I was bouncing between hopeful and fearful--all we knew of our place was three tiny pictures and various descriptions from talking on the phone. I was also anxious about living in a basement suite, wondering how the low ceilings and lack of light would affect my seasonal depression. The outside of the house looked cute, and we had hope.

Hope began to fail when our Landlady stalled taking us directly to our suite. Hope failed even more when I walked into our suite and realized that the heating PIPE that was supposed to be in our LIVING ROOM was a heating VENT that cut across the functional part of the kitchen, completely filled the hallway (3 or 4’ across), and then continued through the living room. David and I both realized that he could not stand upright under it. Our Landlady showed general unconcern (grr). After dumping our stuff and looking around shocked, David left for a walk for some fresh air/thinking, and a collapsed on the floor in tears and called home. Life in Toronto was not off to a brilliant start.

On a boat at LegoLand

Walking to Fort Edmonton Park. After David cut off his long hippy hair.

Dressed up for his last conference at the U of A.

At a restaurant with Sarah & Tim after a trip to see The Holy Grail on the big screen.


  1. Wow! what a start to Toronto. I had no idea. I would have been an absolute mess! I want to read more!

  2. Was that Aunt Jenny's birthday? Hot dang.

    I've noticed that Toronto landlords often show amazing unconcern for things like comfort, the truth, the law.

  3. It was actually Auntie Elsie's birthday, on Grandma's side. And Toronto landlords are the strangest out of anywhere i've lived yet.

  4. Ahhh, that's cool.

    Our landlord's middle aged sons live in our house. It's...interesting.