Wow, interesting. Just read my friend Kerry Clare’s fascinating post, to the left, under “Pickle Me This”; apparently celebrating not buying a house is a controversial opinion in Toronto and provokes furious reactions. If people travelled more, if they spent time in Europe or southern countries, where a huge percentage of the population rent and could not dream of owning a house, they’d see how much we take for granted here. My father’s French friend Jacques, a graphic artist, and his wife Henriette, an office manager, raised 3 sons in a small rented apartment in suburban Paris. But with careful husbanding of their money they managed to buy a tiny apartment and rent it out for many years, until the boys were grown and they sold it to give a small amount to each son toward a down payment. On an apartment.
My children will never own a house in Toronto, at least until I die and they inherit this one, and by then, they’ll be so very old, they won’t want all these stairs.
As usual I’ve been relishing my garden, which is my cottage. My neighbour Monique has an actual cottage on a lake, three hours away, so she regularly drives for six hours to sit in tranquillity and swim. I cannot swim here, but an extraordinary green tranquillity is mine in the centre of the city, right outside my kitchen door, and it keeps me sane. Incidentally, 31 years ago my husband and I were able to buy this wreck of a house for $180,000 because I wrote to my childless uncle in New York, who’d told me I was in his will, asking if he would mind giving me the money I’d inherit now rather than later, because after his death I’d be too sad to enjoy it. And he did, providing a good part of the down payment. So I am here gazing at my garden because I was lucky enough to have a generous uncle with no children of his own. And, to be fair, a husband with a good steady job who kept paying our enormous mortgage even after the divorce, so the kids and I could stay here. Otherwise, I’d have been renting too, Kerry, all those years.
Speaking of real estate, those of you who follow the other blogs on this page will know that my beloved Chris has sold his minuscule but perfect Vancouver condo for double what he paid for it ten years ago and is hoping to buy a place on Gabriola Island. So we will follow his adventure into a rural paradise, a man who has lived in Vancouver all his life moving to a remote island two ferry rides away from the city, with lots of interesting people and artists and space and nature – otters! eagles! – but also the isolation of a very small community cut off from the mainland. For me, a recipe for losing my sanity, but for Chris, we hope, the exact opposite, a way to regain his.
My dear neighbour Richard came for dinner last night on the deck, such an interesting man, twitching only occasionally as he reached out to his phone to check Twitter and his various other feeds. We discussed the problem of political correctness; the ridiculous extremes of identity politics was one of the reasons, he said, Trump was elected. I’ve been dealing with this issue as I work in various ways with millennials, who sometimes, it seems to me, are absurdly over-sensitive to every perceived injustice and slight, bending over backwards to accommodate everyone who might possibly have a grievance. Being white and middle-class and middle-aged makes me a target for their scorn. Obviously the old bag is a dinosaur.
Had my first Ryerson class on Monday, a wonderfully vivid group, as usual. I was glad to see on the class list beforehand that there were 3 men registered, as 2 is usually the maximum; men are rare in my memoir class and very welcome. However, when I got there, I found that one of the men is now a woman in the process of transition. So only 2 official men after all. How interesting life is. How I love my work. It was great to get dressed in my respectable teacher clothes and set off on my bike, riding through the chaotic swirl of Ryerson students packed into the downtown streets. And then to sit in a small room and begin the journey to truth.