And on the personal side of things, I’m picking up and moving. Yes, with the new job comes a new location, so moments after learning I had been offered this fantastic job at UTM, my entire family leapt up and starting working on finding me a place to live. When asked about a possible start date, I bravely suggested June 6 (the first day of the month being a Wednesday, and needing a few days to move and get my act in gear, after all). So the goal was to find a place I could move into on June 1.
Well, a place I could move into on June 1 that wasn’t a) in someone’s basement, b) a box in the sky, c) right smack between a ten-lane highway and an outrageously large mall (harder to avoid than you might think, if you’ve never been to Mississauga), or d) so far from work that I might as well commute from my parents’ house. So the day after I got the fated phone call, the search began.
My parents took me to Mississauga one cloudy afternoon and we discovered that Mississauga is not so much a city as it is a region. Mississauga is a collection of small towns that used to be on the outskirts of Toronto, but are now right smack in the middle of commuter traffic. At some point they opted to merge these small towns into the city of Mississauga, but the damage was done; the highways were already running through it like streakers through an English tennis match. Today Mississauga looks like the home of a magical person; everything he touches turns to asphalt. The largest mall in the province sits where the centre of the city ought to be. Most people in Mississauga actually work in Toronto, and just store themselves overnight in their houses which look much the same as the houses all around them. So this is what we have: miles and miles of poorly-organized housing developments separated by large expanses of parking lot/mall/highway.
First impression: not fantastic.
But there is an upside. One of those original small towns is somewhat more intact than the rest. That town is called Streetsville, and it’s got some charm. My interview dinner was in Streetsville, and I got a tour of it thanks to Mary Ann, the Chief Librarian. It’s got cute shops, lots of restaurants, it’s own public library branch, a Go stop (which means fast, easy access to downtown Toronto, yippee), historic buildings, low-rises, the Credit river, and other nice home-ish touches. My parents liked it. I liked it. It is a human place to live. We searched there for an apartment.
The only available apartments in Streetsville were in these cranky 50s apartment buildings facing some sort of rendering plant. Okay, is wasn’t actually a rendering plant, more like a storage facility for some company or other, but it was ugly. I didn’t want to live across from that.
“Mom,” I said, “I don’t want to be depressed by where I live.” Is that so much to ask? Apparently so.
On the way back home I started wondering how I could get out of my contract, but I think it was just the hormones. Or the weather. Or the fear of ending up in a box in the sky next to 15 lanes of highway and Ontario’s largest mall.
Two days later we headed back. With a lead on another possible place in Streetsville, and a couple of other possibilities about town, we arrived in sooner than we expected. The sun was shining. The possible apartment turned out to be right on the main strip, in a small building with only six units in it. “No balcony,” my mother sighed unhappily. (My mother is very invested in me having a balcony. Long story.)
It was a second storey apartment, right over a hair salon. The stairs looked makeshift, as if someone had forgotten about the necessity of stairs and tacked them on at the last second. The apartment itself was still occupied. And when I say occupied, I mean hidden underneath piles of dirty clothes, unwashed sheets, hockey gear, taped up posters flopping off the walls, bottles of beer, hardened globs of toothpaste in the sink, ripped up huge furniture, and, inexplicably, a wheelchair. Yes, you have guessed it: a young single man was in residence. There was a shade pulled down over the bedroom window so that the bedroom was a black pit. The rug on the floor, mostly pink with dirt embellishments, was clearly highly valued by someone’s mother in the early 80s. My heart sank.
“Are these walls going to be repainted?” my father asked.
“No,” the landlady replied, “they were just painted last year.” I looked around me. Did the walls actually need paint? Why, no, they were fine. The floors are hardwood. The windows aren’t huge but they’re fairly generous. The place has some nice features, buried in there somewhere. The walls are just off-white, the bathroom is large. Is it possible that once the place was empty, I might actually be able to envision myself living there? Could it be?
“I’ll spend the day cleaning,” the landlady said, “after he leaves.”
I took it. What could I do, it was the closest thing to exactly what I wanted, and, as some kind of divine bonus, is was the cheapest one I saw.
There is a deli down the street, and a Laundromat two doors over, next to the bakery my mother had a hard time leaving. Also a dry cleaners and a branch of my bank. There’s a fruit and veg shop that doubles as a sushi bar a block over, next to the library and the LCBO. (LCBO is the place where Ontarians buy alcohol, for you Americans.) There is a Shopper’s Drug Mart down the street. (My love of Shopper’s cannot be measured, nay it cannot.) My father was pleased to point out the Irish pub on the corner where they have Guinness on draft. There are, all joking aside, more restaurants in Streetsville than I’ve ever seen in one place since I left Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“You’ll want to go out every night!” my mother complained. “You’ll have to try not to do that!”
I passed the credit and criminal check (I’ve never had my criminal record checked before!), and my money order was accepted. Come June 1, the place is mine, all mine.
I have now purchased two queen-sized pillows, a queen sized bed frame and queen sized mattress set, because I am queenly, apparently; a tall dresser; a bedside table (just one, it’s not a huge bedroom); a couch (in sienna red); some roman blinds for the bathroom (pink) and the kitchen (lime green). I still have a few things to get, but at least I’ve got most of the basics. On June 2, I will be treated to: a) a huge delivery from Sears, b) all of my worldly possessions delivered to me by the movers, c) cable, and d) high speed wireless internet (THANK GOD THANK GOD). And then: let the furniture arranging begin. Oh yes.