Yesterday I walked around carrying a secret smile, feeling content and happy as I rode to and from work and contemplating an evening with old friends who are in town from back home, and my girls. As I rode on the subway to meet everyone at our friends’ hotel, I got thinking about the idea of contentment, and how it relates to “happy.” Does the presence of the former always result in the latter? Because goodness knows “content” isn’t a term I’d use to describe myself; I’ve never been particularly content. But I have been happy for substantial chunks of my life.
Leaving my hometown and coming to this city was a product of that perpetual discontentment, but leaving behind certain people and certain familiarities was the painful part of that decision. Leaving was something I had to do in striving for my own happiness, but it didn’t come without consequence, psychologically and financially. But as I have been reminded each time I return there, the love of my people remains steadfast, and maybe that has, in its gentle way, helped me to find my ground here. I still get asked if I will come home, but they all understand why I am here.
They know that in some ways, DIScontentment makes me happy. I have this fear of becoming stagnant; of living a life of never changing, never growing. I don’t suppose all the moving around I’ve done is necessarily akin to growth and change – I know many people who have lived in a place all their lives and have evolved and grown in all kinds of beautiful ways. But there is this constant yearning to “move on” within, and maybe my physical moving around is a misguided manifestation of that. Happiness is often associated as the end product of the striving – when we all know it’s the striving itself that really causes happiness; the small, sometimes methodical steps; the actions.
Last year, in an attempt to live the notion that ‘happiness is the journey not the destination’ I turfed the quest of finding “home” in this new city and left it up to “home” to find me. I had some journeying to do in the meantime. It was the right decision. I still consider my current home as a “temporary place to hang my hat” but it doesn’t matter anymore. The discontentment has been sent back to where it belongs – in my mind – no longer directed at the walls and streets around me.
Maybe my feeling of contentment yesterday was because the “twain met.” The comfort of the love and history and fellowship from back home lived together in the realm of the discontented soul, gently tugging it back from the journey for a bit of a breather.
And I was still wearing that secret smile when I walked home at the end of the evening and went to bed.
So we’ve all heard moving company horror stories. For some reason the moving business seems to be associated with shady practices. So before the big day I research online, and come down with a couple of names that are rated high on some Toronto blogs and have lots of positive customer reviews.
I then find out the condo building has three reservation blocks for the elevators: 9-12, 1-4 and 5-8. Since all the movers I solicited quotes from schedule their first shifts at nine, I express concern to them that we might run out of time. What if we don’t get to the new building until 11:30? I harbour visions of uppity other tenants taking over the elevator and leaving me and my things sitting outside the back of the building and a cross building manager shaking her fist at me.
One company suggests I book the moving services in the morning and the elevator in the afternoon. Huh? Even if we didn’t arrive until 11:30, that would leave their men idle until 1:00 – and the clock ticking on my tab. Either that guy is dense in the ways of gaining business, or he communicates with a lot of really stupid clients.
El Cheapo Moving Co. assesses the contents I had listed in the quote form and say they are absolutely confident they’ll get the job done in time, so I book them. The day before the move, another person calls me to confirm the time and location, and re-visits the timing issue with me, saying they will most certainly get finished.
The morning of moving day, the movers show up and tell me I’m getting three men for the price of two. As it turns out, I am completely moved from the east side to downtown in under two hours, with more than an hour left over on my elevator reservation.
The guys are professional, friendly and careful with my stuff, and they hustle on overdrive the whole time. When the concierge at my new building is delayed a few minutes in opening the service elevator, one of the guys complains on my behalf that I am paying for downtime.
(Another one of the guys looks remarkably like Sydney Crosby and I want to ask him, is this how you earn some extra bucks after the Habs knock you out of the playoffs? What, did you lose some sponsorship revenue or something?)
Oh sure, you might say Sydney Crosby didn’t need the tip I gave him and his mates, but they sure deserved it.
Toronto people – stick this little bit of information in a corner of your brain for reference when you need it. Go with the company with the corny name.
(And I bet if I put Sydney Crosby in my tags I get lots of hits on this post. Maybe even more hits than the posts about facebook and women being afraid to poop in public bathrooms.)
So I made peace with his landlordship. No, we didn’t discuss the Matter of the Windows or his Jacking Up the Furnace Policy. Let’s just say we both know it’s an issue that would remain unresolved for as long as I chose to live there. He did say he’s thinking of building a deck for the upper apartment, so perhaps that’s his acknowledgement of most peoples’ need for fresh air and an enjoyment of summer. He probably thinks that the next tenant’s utilisation of a deck space will eliminate any need to open windows – but that’s a discussion I’m not going to need to have ever again.
At any rate, the exchange was friendly and generous on both sides, and I’m glad to be leaving him on good terms. He expressed sadness that I’m going, and I understand that. It’s not about the money for him; it’s about the comfort of having another body moving about in the big house. And it’s hard to find a good tenant, particularly when one is inclined to make much ado over small things. I’m glad to be leaving his control issues and mind games. I’m sad to be leaving behind the friendly, slightly cheeky man who gave me some prints of his bird paintings, which I’ll hang in my new home in honour of his good qualities, and because they’re lovely.
I get possession of my new digs tomorrow and the official move is Monday. I hope to use the weekend to get the cupboard and closet stuff in place, and thus ease SOME of the unpacking pain.
But then I never find moving painful. Well, leaving Windsor and the place I lived my entire life was painful. More bittersweet: moving closer to my family, but leaving my friends; becoming a homeless empty nester, but embarking on a month-long adventure to find love across the ocean in a country I’d never been to before. I couldn’t have known then that it would take years to overcome that shock to my system, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’ve always loved change – I crave it sometimes. I suspect that now I’m that empty-nester I’m a little too free to run after change any time the whim takes me. I won’t even begin to discuss my thoughts on where this has left me in the love and relationship department. Maybe I should be like my favourite bloggers – refreshingly honest and personally forthright – and lay that out on the table. Maybe in doing that I could affect some internal change in an area that could really stand some improvement.
But not today. I’m too jazzed about the move. It’ll be the fourth neighbourhood I’ve tried in Toronto since 2006. It’ll be different than any type of home or neighbourhood I’ve ever lived. Because in making this decision, I thought that it was time to let go of some ideas about re-creating that kind of neighbourhood and HOME that I had when my girls were growing up. After all, everything’s different now. I AM alone and I CAN follow these yearnings and go where the wind takes me. I truly believe in following the rhythms of the universe, and I’m looking forward to discovering where the path takes me.
As of Monday, everything will be new again. With wide open windows.
Change is the only constant. *~Heraclitus