A Room of One’s Own (with Semi-Detached Daughter)

Ohhhh life so topsy turvy! Never boring, a little alarming, unpredictable and exciting– it’s an adventure ’tis!

Firstly, I’ve been away from true blogging for several months now (Posting wee bits of news here, an interview link there isn’t quite the same, neh?) because I got caught in a whirlwind of life changes and now, here I sit, in a room of one’s own, albeit with a semi-detached daughter.

I had planned on moving to Toronto after Daughter graduated from high school (Daughter to move with me as she’s not ready to fledge). Son is twenty-one and ready to leave the nest. And I wanted to have a fresh new start in a different city, plunge myself into a new adventure. The family house sold very quickly. I began to pack up my things and sorting my archives.

The call from SFU’s The Writer’s Studio came in early May. The Toronto move had been planned for the end of June. I was asked if I’d like to mentor genre and YA fiction in their writing program. I was speechless for several seconds. “You know I’m planning on moving to Toronto,” I said. Yes, they knew. “You’re messing with my mind,” I said. They gave me a little time to consider the position.

What to do? What to choose? I didn’t have any sort of job opportunities lined up in Toronto. I’d have to hit the sidewalk and send emails, letters, make phone calls. Hustle. Begin anew. I have friends and contacts in Toronto, but there were no guarantees. When one’s livelihood relies upon an art practice to pay the bills every source of income is precious….

Pragmatism trumped risk and change. I accepted the SFU mentoring job. I began looking for an apartment in Vancouver. Daughter was disappointed about the sudden reversal as was I and many of my Toronto friends. Vancouver friends were pleased as can be. Son, and other family members were happy as well.

Of course I was excited about the new job and anticipating the experiences I would have. I felt lucky and privileged to have been given this opportunity. And it is also discombobulating to have psychologically and emotionally prepared for a major move only to suddenly reverse course.

You choose one path instead of the others and the possibilities of that moment have been lost, but the path you chose opens up with unimagined outcomes and new junctures of change and the possible.

I love my new apartment! One of the reasons I wanted to move to Toronto was so that I could learn living in a new city and have new experiences. I’m actually getting that here. I hadn’t thought I’d feel such a difference between Burnaby (where I lived for over 10 years) and Vancouver, but it is not at all the same. I’m learning a new rhythm, a new pattern of body and environment. I’m driving far far less (yay!) and I walk a great deal more than I did before. The sounds, the textures of this place are intriguing. I love riding the bus and staring out the window. I live much closer to several friends and this has made visits so much easier and casual– I love this! There’s a greater urban thrum. Seagulls working and shrieking their night shift. The clang and clamour of garbage trucks, sirens and the making of friends with neighbourhoods cats. The refrigerator alternates between playing Galaga and attracting crickets. The punky smell of weed rising from the back alley, drifting through the building. I’m certain there’s over fifty restaurants in a 2 kilometer radius! The pleasure and pain of learning to grow plants on a balcony. The pleasure of a balcony.

This is a new chapter in my life. Daughter is still seventeen and there are several more years before she is ready to go off on her own, but I feel like my role as full-on “mothering mother” has shifted to something a little more relaxed and looser. Of course I’ll always be a mother to her and my son, but I’m feeling less the urgency and responsibility to place the children’s needs before my own. They need me less and I feel like if the things I’ve tried to teach them ’til now didn’t stick, repeating those lessons will not do any of us any good at this point.

Trying to be a parent who was present and engaged with their development (as much as I was able to) took a lot of time. I didn’t know what kind of time it would take. I don’t suppose a lot of people know until they actually have children and then we see. (I don’t resent the time it took to parent them– it would be bloody ridiculous of me if I did feel resentment, I mean I brought them into this world for chrissakes! It riles me up when I hear parents saying things like, “You should be grateful to me for bringing you into this world. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me.” My eyes bulge wide with incredulity. The child had no say in the matter! The child didn’t ask you to be their parent! The parent brought them into a world they may not have chosen of their own accord. The onus is on the parent to be the best they can rather than the reverse. Tho not to suggest, however, that the child has no responsibilities.)

I’ve always wanted a room of my own ~___~ . I’ve always lived with other people…. Yes, my lovely semi-detached daughter is with me and this is very enjoyable too. Now and then I tell her to wash the dishes or clean the bathroom, but we both give each other a lot of space. Son has moved into a bachelor pad about 10 blocks away from our apartment. Sometimes I ask him if he’d like to drop by after work. He comes in late smelling of kitchen oil, a little rumpled and tired. I ask him if he’d like to eat some leftover stew. He says he prefers to pack it up and relax at home. I put the stew in a yoghurt container and in a plastic bag. We hug and he goes off in the night.

There is more space in my life now that I am not a full-on mothering mother. I call my own hours, structure meals around hunger and time errands to my liking. I can delve into novels and ideas like they are rooms I can inhabit for as long as like. There’s no one keeping time (Well, of course there are deadlines! It’s not complete LaLaland after all. Good thing, too. ‘Cause otherwise I’d just roll around in fancy as if I’m a caterpillar with a hookah!) and it’s all left me rather giddy. And happy.

I guess I’m a middle-aged fledgling of a kind…. Leapt from the great stick nest and riding the warm updraft.