Self care is doing hard things: saying goodbye to our home.
A follow up to my last posts on self care and doing hard things is the other big change I’ve been going through: saying goodbye to our home & workspace of the past three and a half years to travel to Spain.
I had such a funny relationship with my apartment. We moved in when my business was just a 6 month old infant, and I was just 6 months away from getting pregnant. In that place my husband proposed to me, got his PhD, got his brother off the streets and became a dad. That apartment saw me set goals and achieve them. I got out of debt, built my business, and did shit that really scared me. (Went into labour, said yes to Big Things, faced some inner demons/made hard choices about how I wanted to live, you know, that kind of stuff.) Together, we created our family and refined what that dynamic is and what we’re all about. This is the apartment we left back in 2012 for a trip to Costa Rica, our babymoon, to see if I could run Stark from afar. Later, in 2013-2014 we did our first extended trip to Kuwait/Rome and we were bit by the travel bug, hard. We knew that we wanted a nomadic lifestyle and became, bit by bit, minimalists and rebels that push the status quo, little by little. This is the apartment that my son truly felt was his home, which is by far the most significant role this place has played…and what made leaving the hardest.
So I can see why people find leaving their home difficult. I can see why people had that “whoa, crazy!” expression on their face when we told them we’d be moving all our stuff to storage until the spring, signing our lease over to someone else and going vagabond-style for the next half-year. And when we get back “home”? There will be no home!
Uprooting yourself is tough. It’s really uncomfortable (and try to explain to a two year old why we’re doing this!) And putting all your things for the next half year in a few suitcases? Forget it. I’ve edited and re-edited my possessions so many times, and yet, I still find it extremely difficult.
But truth be told, I never totally loved that place. I have weighed the pros and cons of that apartment for ages. I always felt a little ashamed of it’s shabby exterior and grubby hallway as well as the cheap windows and wonky balcony door. And don’t get me started about the bathroom fixtures or sticky kitchen cabinets! The place is clearly a cheap rental that my landlord didn’t feel worthy of investing in anymore, which is a sad state for a home to find itself in. However, from the moment I walked into this place, something felt right. It was bright, sunny and calm. There was a feeling of airiness and possibility. I could picture my cats sunning themselves on the window and my plants growing into massive beasts. Although I wanted a more “adult” place, one with all the mod-cons of a dishwasher, washer-dryer and some real outdoor space, I also loved the cheap rent ($760 (!!!!!) for a 4 1/2, which is Montrealese for 2 bedroom apartment) and the proximity to the metro and Botanical Gardens, which happens to be my favourite spot in this fine Francophone city.
So in a sense, the apartment always felt like a compromise, or a space I needed to justify (mostly to myself) as to why we stuck around for so long. Yeah, it was sunny and fairly spacious, but indeed my countertop is slightly um, crumbling to bits. These things don’t scream “I’m trying to become successful!” to the self… and these subliminal messages to myself I find important. “Settling” is never a great foundation for any kind of relationship, and the same is to be said for a home. Although it’s nice to have that comfy feeling of being in a place that feels like a good broken-in pair of shoes, for me at least, it’s also a sign that I’m going to stop growing and only expand to the furthest edges of the room I’m in. I’m goldfish-like like that, which is why travel is really important to me.
Letting go of my home, a place I’ve outgrown, is incredibly hard. But it’s also self-care.