Living with diagnosed mental health issues for something like 20 years now, i have become fairly familiar with the triggers. Having to take part in enforced fun is definitely one, so having to show up for a couple hours of Thanksgiving sucked a lot out of me. Being locked in or committed to "stuff" is another.
Technically, i don't have any commitments right now, because i have no job, no dependents, very few belongings, and a month-to-month lease agreement. However, my landlord has decided that she really likes me being here, and has made several moves to try entice me to stay.
Originally, i had the place "available" month to month through December. In January, an older couple from Vancouver were going to move in, to help look after their daughter's upcoming baby. That was a hard deadline that gave me an out - whether i find somewhere new to live here or go somewhere else, it was a clear ending. But then my landlord started to feel uncomfortable with the idea of having this couple move in.
Apparently the January couple had a lot of fussy requirements, like... they will need a new mattress installed, they will need to bring a bunch of furniture to set up their home office, et cetera. Basically, it was becoming clear to my landlord that they would be high maintenance tenants, whereas i need nothing beyond a toilet, running water and a stove. So she spoke to me and asked if i could stay longer, then she told me she could lower my rent next year when she puts the place on the market. I said there are no guarantees from me because this was always just a temporary roof over my head, but seeing how stressed she was about the future tenants it would make sense for her own peace of mind to cancel their agreement.
I don't know what exactly went down after that, but apparently the couple got really upset about being told (3 months in advance!) that they couldn't get the place, and they made a fuss, and my landlord had to PAY THEM MONEY (more than just returning the 2 week deposit) to get them off her back. This is a couple who live in Vancouver's ritzy West End, offered above the asking rate for this suite, and told my landlord they had just spent 20k upgrading their kitchen. So, not a pair of working class battlers, by any means. What you gonna do? Rich people gonna be assholes.
All this drama left my landlord drained, and it's left me feeling like i owe her the rent at least through February, just so she isn't stuck trying to find a non-shitty roommate in the middle of winter. And - let's be honest - where the fuck would i go in the middle of winter anyways? All of Canada is going to be cold and miserable. I could fly overseas, but that's just thumbing my nose at the pandemic, and at climate change, and i don't feel comfortable doing that either.
So here i am, stuck in this small country town for the foreseeable future.
It's not an awful place to be stuck, mind you. Even in the rain, you get vistas like this.
When it's clear and still, the river is like a lake.
And even though i hate trees, and i hate fallen leaves, there's no denying the colors are very pretty in those small patches of scrubland where they grow.
I actually don't mind the cold weather so much as the rain. Walking around outside when it is dry and cold is just about rugging up and finding a wind break. It's crisp. It's fine. If i catch a ray of sunshine, i can even pretend it's vaguely warm out. But when i'm wet, when the ground is wet, that's when i pretty much hate everything. Water should stay in the sea, not fly round in the air.
And there is going to be a lot more water. Not because it rains here very often, but because once the temperature gets below 0, it only needs to rain once for the snow or ice to stubbornly take root and piss me off for the entire rest of the winter.
According to the weather reports, we are experiencing an unseasonable cold snap, and this weekend there will be heavy snow even down here in the valley.
I'm not looking forward to it.
Yesterday i took a walk up to the big thrift store and donated some more clothes. I still haven't been able to rebalance my wardrobe after my manic winter gear spending spree.
Did i tell you i bought a sleeping bag too? It's not a winter bag, but the theory was to get something that i could use to overnight in a pinch, like in a bus terminal or something. But then i remembered that bus terminals don't exist in Canada, because coaches only stop at gas stations in the middle of nowhere and the routes only service a handful of towns to begin with. Hell, the VIA Rail stop in this town is just a bare platform in the middle of the CN freight yard, miles from anywhere. Not that it matters since VIA has been canceled due to the pandemic.
This is the car culture. This is how people design society around the concept that everyone either owns a car, or has a friend or phone app that can somehow get them into a car. When a pandemic hits, there are no restrictions put into place on car travel, but buses and trains are junked. Of course, before the pandemic, bus routes were being actively deleted all over the continent anyways. Let's not even talk about passenger rail. What a sad loss for a region of the world that was once famous for its railroads.
Still, at least we got 40km of bike trail in this town. I'm not sure how much biking i'll be able to do when there is ice everywhere, but i spoke to the bike store guy and he said i could order in spiked tires.
Great. More stuff.
This is my biggest emotional hurdle, you see. Everything is built around acquiring more stuff. Oh, you don't like winter? That's only because you never went skidooing, you should go out do that! Oh, you don't like hiking in the rain? Just buy this spectacularly expensive raincoat with zippers in the armpits, you'd never even know it was wet out! Or stay at home, use the season to get into some indoor projects, bake cookies, needlepoint, fuck, whatever. Yeah, no. I don't want to buy more stuff just to take my mind off things. The stuff is exactly what causes the stress in the first place!
And, of course, even folks who try sell you on ultralight kit or cheap deals, they all assume that you have a house. Of course you must have somewhere to store the stuff when you're not using it. Surely you have somewhere to work on your hobby. Probably a garage because - hey - fucking car culture.
The wild thing is that i actually do have the room for it right now. This is by far the largest place i have lived in years. I think it might even be the biggest place i have lived in my adult life, period. I don't know what to do with all the space. And yet, i feel trapped here. It's filled up with all this furniture and art that is useless to me. I can get all the entertainment i need from the internet on my tablet in bed. All the extra space in between my bed and the toilet and the stove, it just makes me think about those people living in tents - out of necessity, not by choice - and why the fuck don't they get to have a few square meters of shelter?
There's so much space in North America, and it's so poorly distributed.
My hippie friend N working on a farm down south of here invited me for a cacao ceremony this weekend. I have an appointment for a flu shot on Monday and i already booked in a Skype session with another friend for Friday, so i won't have the spoons. But getting a text from him did help me to remember there are places i can go, short trips i can take to try get a change of scenery. Maybe those things will be like lanterns, shining a light, helping me get through.
Just as long as it doesn't fucking rain.