January 9, 2007

Basement dweller

I have lived in one basement suite or another for over a decade now. Here are some standard issue circumstances of the basement dweller ...

~ The people living upstairs are elephants, no matter how light-footed they believe themselves to be.

~ Unless you control your own heat, you will freeze. I've been known to sport sweaters in the height of summer after a descent into the subterranean icebox. Heat rises people.

~ The fridge is most likely several decades old, boasting a freezer (which doesn't actually keep your food frozen) that either grows into an impenetrable mountain of ice, or else drips all over your pickles and mayo.

~ The bathroom is built for Bilbo and Frodo.

~ Stove? What stove?

All this being said, it's not as if I have made much of an effort to change my situation. In fact, I am currently looking for a new place to live and will undoubtedly move into my fourth basement suite. Perhaps I have an affinity for caves. Or maybe it's an aversion to paying an exorbitant amount of money for a bit of walled-in space that floats above the ground. I want to be close to the earth, even if it means I need to walk around with blankets about my shoulders and take an ice pick to the freezer to make room for the frozen fruit.

On the continued search for a place to call home, I'm happy to continue living beneath someone else's.

January 3, 2007

First cars and childhood homes

Time is a funny thing. It speeds, it slows, it stops, it starts.

I just sold the little Honda Civic Hatchback I had owned for the past 10 years. I bought it when I was 19 and had the landscape of my 20s spilling out in front of me: an uncharted territory. This little Honda carried me down the West Coast to California and up through the heart of BC to a midsummer music festival in Smithers. It took me west to the Islands, east to the Interior and was ever a Trooper (as I so lovingly named her).

It is interesting how objects become material witnesses to our lives. Just over a year ago, my parents sold the house I lived in throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was about 5 years old when we moved into the old character house on Georgia Street and it's the closest definition of "home" that I have come up with so far in my life. The last time I was in the house, I walked from room to room and paused for a moment in each one to allow 20+ years worth of memories flood my mind ... the bedroom in which I lost my virginity, the stale smell and slanted ceilings of the attic, the basement full of my father's dusty old books and LPs, the wood-burning fireplace and bay windows of the living room that hosted so many Christmases, the details on the kitchen walls - pencil marks charting the growth of two daughters, the wooden door worn away by the dogs, scratching to get outside. Memories are virtual, but it's difficult not to be nostalgic about the objects that hold them.

I had much the same sense of nostalgia as I prepared to pass my little Honda onto it's next owner. It was my vehicle - literally and figuratively - from childhood to adulthood. Nevertheless, as I approach my 30th birthday, I am beginning to realize that home cannot be simply described as a place, or a decade's worth of living encapsulated in one's first car. For me, life exists somewhere in between memories and dreams ... and is defined by the people that populate both of these.