Houses not homes

I wrote a blog post yesterday. It was the first one in nearly three months. Yikes!

photo (46)

Today, I’ve been sitting out on our porch in the muggy July air. I can hear some medieval movie playing in the home next door to ours and silence from the house on the other side. I’m aware that both have their windows cracked open because I’m always aware of things like that. I don’t like feeling like people are overhearing what I’m doing. Music and tv, sure, but I’m irritated by eavesdropping.

We live in something like a townhome or condo – I never know which to call it. It’s a two-level home that doesn’t quite measure 1000 square feet. The living room and dining room are the same, differentiated only be the light fixture on one side of the big room. That accounts for most of the main floor. The only addition is a closet holding a washer and dryer and the kitchen which is not very big, but is manageable for us. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms and a bathroom. We have a little porch out back and a tiny patch of grass. The place also opens up to a courtyard out front where there are planters with some really lovely pink dogwood tree that bloomed twice this year.

The complex is nice enough. There are probably twenty homes in here. The Strata seems relatively laid back because I can see some people have been gardening in their planters out front and we almost never see passive-aggressive notices about things people are doing wrong. From what I can tell, the residents are mostly couples in their thirties, scattered with a healthy number of families as well. I’ve only noticed one elderly couple in the complex and they’re the ones that seem to do all the caretaking. I find it a real shame that I can’t tell you more facts about who lives here, but that’s just the way it is. There is no sense of community.

For a while, I thought it was just us. Call it paranoid, but I wondered why nobody talked to us. Did we do something wrong? Is it because we aren’t Asian? (Our new area is heavily populated with immigrants of Asian descent.) Is it because we’re the only ones who let our cats outside? Every time I’d see someone near the mailboxes, in the garage, outside the house, I’d attempt to say hello, but they’d avert their eyes. The only exceptions were the aforementioned elderly caretakers. They’re always quick to smile and say hello, but their meek, though pleasant, demeanor leads me to believe that they may not have a lot of confidence in their English to say anything more.

Last fall, the people next to us moved in and when we finally met them on Halloween (they tried to avoid me then, too, but our decks are separated only be an aluminum fence and my festive spirit made me bolder than I normally would be.) They’re a couple, maybe a little younger than we are. They moved here from the same area I did. Courtney and Travis are their names. I could tell they were reluctant, but we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Since then, however, we’ve never uttered another word. I’ve smiled, I’ve said hello, I’ve made it clear that I was open to an exchange – nothing. They (though mainly Courtney) just ignore me. Kevin said he’s had the same experience.

Again, paranoia, but then I realized that nobody around here seems to talk to anyone. We’re just people sharing walls and nothing else.

Let me make one thing clear: I don’t want to be besties with my neighbours. I don’t want people dropping in all the time or chatting my ear off every day. I just think it would be nice to know that if someone was, say, breaking into our home that somebody around here would A. notice that the person trying to get in wasn’t the person who belonged there or B. give a shit.

That aside, I like our place…for now. It isn’t permanent and we don’t know how long we’ll stay, but it’s convenient and we’re comfortable here. We are an active couple who don’t spend a ton of time at home, but we have everything we need here.

Listening to the thunder and shrieks of battle going on in the film next door, I can only imagine that the teenaged son in the family is the one watching the tv right now. The mother, who seems much older than what I’d imagine is her actual age, doesn’t strike me as the action type. This left me wondering where she must be if she wasn’t in the living/dining room watching or at least listening to the movie. If she wasn’t out, she’d have minimal choices for where she could be hanging out for a couple of hours. Ugh. I know that when Kevin watches Grey’s Anatomy really masculine shows and I need to leave the room, I head up to the bedroom, but even just for an hour, I find that kind of annoying.

It got me thinking about my childhood home and all the space we had there. We had our rooms and the living room and a basement and a big yard. If we didn’t want to be around someone or what they were doing, we had plenty of options to not be. If we had grown up in the place where I live now? I’d have lost my mind.

I’m the first one to say that there’s always room to make things work and that adaptation is what we do. There are certainly worse circumstances to grow up in than not having enough space. For the first time, I’m feeling like living in these rows of homes or boxes piled one on top of the other makes us nothing more than animals kept in cages. Gross. When I mentioned it to Kevin, I found out that it’s something he’s thought about a fair bit.

For now, our place is more than enough. We’re happy here, but we already see signs of our place not fitting our ideal. We want to get a dog. I want space for beehives. (I really want a cow, too.) We’ve enjoyed growing strawberries and tomatoes and peppers on our postage stamp deck this year. We’d both love to have more room for that.

I’d imagine everyone feels that way, right? What’s the big deal? Well, here. According to that article, Vancouver is the second least affordable place to live in THE WORLD. We’re outside Vancouver and the housing costs are still exorbitant. (Think $400000 for a 750 sq. ft apartment.) In other areas of the country, people buy homes with yards for less than that!

Which brings us to relocation. Is it in our cards? Perhaps. I’m definitely not opposed to it. Of course, a million questions remain about where, when, what would we do when we got there. Right now, we’re staying put.

4 Comments

  1. I think about relocating back to the states every day for that same reason. Right now I live in my dungeon suite in someone’s basement. It could be worse- I have amazing landlords keeping me planted- but I will never be able to afford a decent home in the city in which I live. And that’s damn depressing.

  2. Although we have a 1,440 sq ft house right now with a decent back yard and so forth, we’ve even considered moving up, and mostly for the reasons you cite; I’d like to raise chickens, we’d like more space for the kids to run, buildings to do this or that in, etc. Come to Iowa! Not 6 miles from us is an acreage for sale, 3 acres of land (130,080 square feet!) plus a 2000-sqft house on it for about $140,000. Amazing, no? And yet here we sit. 🙂 Someday! Someday.

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