In May of this year, I celebrated my 10 year anniversary. No, not at my job (that was last August, even though I can hardly believe it). It was 10 years since I first began living alone. Not as in, leaving my parents' home, but as in living by myself.
The first "by myself" apartment was a subterranean dwelling (ok, basement) in Scarborough, not far from where I grew up. The owner of the house lived upstairs and she was a friend of my dad's so I got a great deal on the rent. She had 2 small children living up there with her, and my days of sleeping in were over once I moved in. The children were boisterous and energetic, as children are. She did, however, have a vast backyard with a small area that I called 'my own' and over the 2 summers I was living there, I used it extensively, as I also had a subscription to the New Yorker at the time, and, I must admit, a stunning tan. I moved out after she decided she needed the basement for her growing family and headed back downtown. Well, midtown.
I found the apartment on Bathurst, where I lived for almost the next 7 years, after my favourite aunt told me to drive along the street, looking for vacancy / for rent signs, and just go in and ask to speak to the superintendent. I did just that. They took me to a top floor apartment in a low-rise building right on Bathurst Street. The top floor was a huge carrot dangling for me, after living below a loud family. Also, the apartment faced a large Catholic church, directly opposite, visible through the very large windows that looked east onto the street.
I moved in two weeks after I saw it, mid-month, in October, just shy of Hallowe'en. It was the year 2000. Summer 2001 saw one of the hottest Ontario summers in years. It also saw me, without air conditioning, ( I later bought a window unit) reading The Fountainhead near the open dining room window. The New Yorker subscription continued, and I read that between chapters.
It didn't take long for me to aclimatize to living alone. After all, I worked very long hours and didn't spend a huge amount of time awake in the apartment anyway. Most of my waking hours were logged when I was home, after work, eating dinner in front of the tv, or at home after a night at the restaurant where I worked part-time, staying up late by myself, reading, thinking, and wondering if I would ever live with anyone ever again. After a while, I couldn't imagine it.
Year 8. 2007. My horoscope for January 1, New Year's Day, in the National Post said that 2007 was an auspiscious year for me to buy real estate. In a compulsive fashion, I did just that.
After getting a realtor, and a mortgage pre-approval, I started looking for a condo. I found it, very downtown, in the form of a loft that was formerly an optical office, with the connecting factory building also converted to lofts. I was home. Still alone, but more home than I had ever felt living alone. Every evening when I came home from work and duplicated my routine on Bathurst (who doesn't eat in front of the tv living alone, tell me this?) I would marvel at the high, smooth ceilings, the exposed ductwork, and the open concept rooms. Never mind that I would suffer another very hot, un-air-conditioned summer in those open rooms; as soon as the problem was resolved, I forgot it.
Recently, I got back into a relationship with a person whom I had been on-again, off-again for the past few years. We had discussed, in a previous incarnation, living together. I had done it once before with a boyfriend, years ago, and did not consider it to be something I wanted to do again. But things change, people change. They do. That expression "People don't change" is really a myth. They DO change, and you change too. If you're lucky, and you really work at it, they (and you) can change for the better.
So here I am, ending a 10-year plus stint. I could tell I was ready in a few ways. One, I'm really happy in my relationship. When both are working at it, it makes things easier than if only one is. Two--I started, probably about six or eight months ago, to feel very lonely in my living-alone life. That hadn't happened in a long time. Three--when I think about my boyfriend moving in, I have no feeling of dread or fear of 'giving up space'. I'm just excited. For my chance, for my turn. I've had plenty of time (ahem ten years....) to absorb every minutae detail about myself. I'm really ready to open things up.