It’s a small county after all

You know how I’ve been sorting through old stuff lately? Well, I recently found this journal my mom bought me several years ago.

Winnie the Pooh children's book cover

Here’s the front cover

Thinking I’d get to re-visit angst-ridden teenage poetry, I flipped open the first page.

Instead of a journal entry, guess what I found? A biography about Heather Smeding, our house’s former owner.

Here's Heather's bio, with our attic mentioned right in the first paragraph

Here’s Heather’s bio, with our attic mentioned right in the first paragraph

My mind was boggled. I suddenly had this feeling that the cosmos has big plans for me,  that everyone is connected and that someday, I’d find my favourite socks.

Then I remembered : Simcoe County only has 446,000 people living in it. The chances of someone from Perkinsfield meeting someone from Elmvale (15 minutes away) are pretty good.

Damn. I guess those socks really are lost.

Even though the whole thing wasn’t destiny, it was a nice reminder that like-minded people find ways to connect.

When I met Heather, I liked her instantly. She had amazing art, talked straight, and had a subtle (but sharp) sense of humour. She was part of the reason this house appealed to me.

My favourite part of the journal is the last page, where Heather tucked a little list of journal entry prompts.

These prompts came in a sweet little recycled pouch

These prompts came in a sweet little recycled pouch

I thought I’d share some of my responses:

  • Dear past me : Your poetry isn’t good
  • If I could change one thing : I’d find my favourite socks
  • Three good things : BBQ chips, snuggling and puppies
  • Things I always did with my mom: read Winnie the Pooh
  • Three things I would grab if my house was on fire : a photo album, the blanket my avò made me, and my purse
  • If I knew I couldn’t fail, I would : be a painter
  • Thing I’ve done that I didn’t think I could : sing for a crowd

I think I might use this journal to keep track of the many things I’m grateful for, starting with my mom, good food, friendly people, and happy coincidences.

One of my journal's inside pages

One of my journal’s inside pages

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The Deal

I grew up in the village (hamlet? intersection?) of Perkinsfield, Ontario. It’s so small it doesn’t even get a dot on the Ontario map. Even google gets confused when you try to find it. It used to have a fast food stand shaped like a giant hot dog that made it fairly memorable to cottagers driving through, but that shut down.

Found a photo of the old Perkinsfield hot dog stand.

Found a photo of the old Perkinsfield hot dog stand.

Anyway.

I’ve lived in Toronto since 2003.  I like the city. I like going to concerts on school nights and having delicious Indian food delivered straight to my door. I like my friends here. I like my workplace. I like my choir. I even like my apartment.

Our place is on the top right corner

Our Toronto apartment. The one on the top right corner.

The thing is, I’ve never actually loved the city. There were a few early years when I thought it might be love, but Toronto lost a little fairy dust each time I got stuck on a sweaty TTC car, was woken by police sirens, or forked over a massive rent cheque.

To me, Toronto is like a nice, A-type, career-minded person. I appreciate and admire it. But it takes itself too seriously.  It forgets there are other ways to be. It gets caught up in schedulers, americanos and expensive shoes. And all of that stuff has me itching to buy a few acres, throw on some wellies and buy a goat.

Which brings me to an interesting question. Ten years is a friggin long time. Is country life the way I remember it?

I have this vision of people wearing sweatpants to the grocery store, getting home at 5:15 p.m., and drinking beers on porches with long clotheslines flapping behind them. I imagine houses with wide open vistas, perfect for stargazing. My whole family laughing around my dinner table. Apple trees. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. But I might be idealizing things just a tad.

I will soon find out just how far off the mark my memory is. My partner Jean-François — the best, smartest, most handsome franco-ontarian this side of Markham — got a new office in Barrie and is buying us a house in Simcoe County. Probably in Elmvale, which is as close to Perkinsfield as we can get without making JF’s commute a major pain. My mother is thrilled.

This blog is my effort to catalogue our adventure. It might cover a little house hunting, a little decorating, a little job searching, and a little pondering. Maybe a little music (the other love of my life) too. Either way, I hope it will help you, my friends and family, keep abreast of my movements.

I guess you could say this big change in my life is an exercise in dream chasing. I have no job, no distinct plans, and will very soon have no money. But I’m optimistic. As addle-brained as this whole thing might be, it feels right.

That said, please wish me luck. I will need it.