HOME. Repeat after me: home. That wide open “oh”, that warm humming “mmm.” Home. Home. Surely one of the most resonant words in the English language – and, interestingly, one which does not exist, in the same way, in French. I spent the dark, thunderstormy morning carrying stuff up and down – reclaiming my home while the Belgians went for lunch, leaving their many, many suitcases in the living-room. Up and down and 3 huge loads of laundry, because my European tenants (and their guests) had used every sheet and towel in the house. The cat hid downstairs, bewildered.
And finally, at 2, their cab came; the bags and the Belgians departed for the airport, and I had the house to myself. For the rest of the afternoon, cleaning sorting tidying – unpacking, even, as there was still stuff from last month’s trip not put away. The sun came out, the wet sheets were hung outside, the cat ventured upstairs, the place was scrubbed and de-Belgianed. Especially my bedroom. My bed.
When I went away for 5 months in 2009, my house was rented out the entire time. Not a problem – I was away, and their rent money was paying for my trip. But this time, I was not away. I agreed to rent the house for 13 weeks though I’d only be away for 5. What was I thinking? As you might have figured out from my subtle allusions, it drove me crazy to have these people inhabiting my world while I lurked down under. This very morning, waking to the sound of feet marching, stomping, crashing about overhead, I wondered if some kind of Belgian ballet was being danced in my kitchen. And maybe there was. I will never know.
They were nice young people. They fed the cat while I was away, as arranged, and they did their best to keep my plants alive. They enjoyed what they saw of Canada and their time in Toronto. But they drove me crazy.
Tonight, after teaching at Ryerson, I got back at 9.30 p.m. and went, not to the back but to the front door. It has been so long that I inserted the key into the wrong keyhole and couldn’t get in. But at long last, here I am, in my shiny kitchen, listening to “Ideas” on CBC, drinking wine, eating cheese. And who is beside me, above ground on the kitchen sofa, but the crabby cat, snoring, as ever. As I write to you, I can hear Heather, the new downstairs tenant, moving in. I will walk softly in the kitchen from now on.
On the baby front – Anna’s midwife has made an appointment for her to be induced next Monday. Even though it’s not what she’d hoped for, she is very relieved to have a date, to know that the end of her pregnancy is nigh, and her boy will make his debut.
And when I called my mother this afternoon in the Geriatric Assessment Unit, she was too busy with the dietician to chat.
It’s all good, as they say. It is all good.