I have lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin my entire life. This past spring my boyfriend, Jason, was accepted into the graduate studies program at the University of Saskatchewan. After several long discussions and many tearful outbursts about missing my family and long distance relationships never working, I decided to help Jason pack up the car, and our cat Barney, and spend two long days driving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
By making this decision, I left the only friends I have ever known and their beautiful children and my amazing family back in Wisconsin and moved to a new country where I don’t know anyone. Most of my things are packed in boxes and totes in my dad’s shed attic, waiting for me to move back in three years after Jason’s schooling. My crappy furniture, the majority of my clothes, and all of the holiday decorations I have accumulated in the first five years of what I thought was my adult life – not to mention the boxes and boxes and boxes of books I have horded for years.
Jason drove the majority of the trip up here since he didn’t bring anything to do in the car. I knitted, crafted some headbands, and colored a picture in the over-sized Spiderman coloring book that my sister gave me in the travel bag she made up for me to take in the car. She is so thoughtful and is the person I miss more than anyone else. We watched the lush Wisconsin landscape of trees and hills turn into the flat North Dakota nothing into the blurb of a city that is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
We found a “roommate” housing situation on kijiji.com before leaving Wisconsin and upon arrival were welcomed into the basement suite of a woman’s home whom we had merely exchanged a few e-mails with. She did not want to draft a lease since we would be “roommates”, which entailed sharing her upstairs kitchen and had to enter the house through her front door and living room.
Let me paint you a word picture of what came to be known as The Hole: When you open the narrow door on the right side of the refrigerator, you will walk down several steep stairs to a brown living room with painted black concrete floors. Because there are no windows, you will never know what time of day or night it is in this lovely suite. This “fully furnished” room consists of a bare wood shelving unit, a small TV, and a futon I could not have comfortably passed out on after my 21st birthday. You will also see an over-sized desk that takes up most of the room, but does not have a chair or any outlets near it for a computer. From here, you will walk into the bedroom, which is furnished with an inflatable mattress and a dresser that is missing several of its nobs. When you sleep on the bed, you will quickly notice in the morning that it deflates and that you must pump it up nightly because there are several duct-taped holes on the under side of the mattress which your “roommate” neglected to tell you about. In the kitchen you will find a small refrigerator, a microwave, a small glass table from the 1970s, and a pantry cabinet. The chairs surrounding the table will not be sturdy enough to sit in, the table will never be clean no matter how many times you wash it, and ants will take over the room no matter how many times you Raid the perimeter. In the bathroom you will find a washer and dryer that your “roommate” will come downstairs to use whenever she feels like it, a sink with no vanity, and a shower that really should not be considered a shower. Your feet will hurt from standing on the bumpy mat that acts as a shower floor and you will not ever feel clean after using it. This apartment will give your cat allergies.
Needless to say, we stayed in this suite for about two months before I couldn’t handle it anymore. Jason agreed that between the lack of sunlight, the ants, and our fifty-something year old roommate who has two large dogs, two dying cats, and an iguana not to mention pet-sits other peoples yippie dogs and has strangers house-sit her home while she is at outdoor music festivals all the time, we needed to move.
We now live on the “good” side of town in a building built in the 1960s. I had permission to paint the living room a sunny yellow and have a small balcony that Barney stares out of most of the day. We have a spacious kitchen all to ourselves and, living on the second floor of the building, we don’t have to worry about ants. There is some built in shelving and our furniture is a mash up of a kitchen table we borrowed from the woman I worked for over the summer, a couch and a love-seat that we were given by the woman across the hall who was getting rid of them, a comfy queen size bed that we treated ourselves to, and end tables, shelves, and a desk from Wal-Mart. With a few crafty touches, the place feels like we have finally arrived, and we are home. Jason’s uncle brought up the huge TV Jason needed to buy last year on Black Friday and after we were settled in we got Barney a baby sister, Penny.