As I write this blog post, I’m in Toronto for a brief visit. It’s a celebration of sorts. After a year of living on my own, I finally feel as if I’ve landed both feet solidly on the ground. (You many recall my recent piece about times of transition being similar to having one foot up in the air and easy to knock off balance.) I don’t claim to fully understand why we humans get so stirred up when we leave a relationship or move to a new setting. I just know it to be so. It has taken my visceral response a whole year to calm down and for peace to return. It doesn’t seem to matter if we’re making a move for the better. We still feel discombobulated.
Third move in a year and a half
Recently Sammy The Poodle and I made our third move in a year and a half from a ground floor apartment to the top floor of our building. I worried that Sammy would mourn the loss of familiar territory. When we lived at ground level, he spent his days within sniffing distance of grass and other dog tenants as they came and went on walks.
At the end of moving day I brought Sammy home to our new apartment. The ride in the elevator went okay. Once inside our door, he took off, going from one room to the next, sniffing the familiar furniture until he apparently decided, “Okay, this is all our stuff so this must be where we now live.”
I’d worried, too, that he’d be too far above ground level to feel connected to the other dogs in the building. Then one afternoon, soon after we moved in, I heard him give the whiney bark he saves for other dogs. I went to the window and, there, 10 storeys below, a dog was being walked. Dogs don’t seem to share their humans’ shaky disorientation when it comes to moving.
Going to another city, even when it’s a move we want, is stressful. For older folk, it’s especially difficult. We have no young children or work colleagues to help us find community in our new city. It would be easy to slip into isolation and loneliness. After all, older women are generally invisible in our society.
A Kingstonian among big city folk
So – what’s it like coming back to Toronto one and a half years after I left for Kingston? To my surprise, I find myself a Kingstonian among big city folk. I crane my neck skyward gawking in amazement at tall buildings with radical architecture. I have trouble remembering the names of streets. (Is that because I’ve worked so hard to learn Kingston’s street names?) People are in an awful hurry. I’ve become accustomed to Kingston’s gentler ways.
I’m glad I’ve moved to Kingston. It’s just right for my stage in life. And I’m glad I spent my adulthood in Toronto. After all, it was there for me as The Big Apple when I needed it during my professional years.
Thank you Kingston. Thank you Toronto.