By Nikki Jamieson
I can now officially say that I’m a Taberite.
I have a mailbox, my car is registered and I have officially moved into my new apartment.
As you can imagine – and my family can attest to – the past week has been pretty stressful for me. But it has been more then just ‘one’ stressful week.
Let me explain; I am what you call a worrier. I say it is reacting normally; I always forget one thing while traveling, have a tendency to do horribly on exams and have mild panic attacks when I can’t find my phone within the first three seconds of searching my purse. When I was (comparatively) younger I would work myself up over the little things. And while I do believe I have gotten a lot better, I am surprised that I haven’t gotten an ulcer this past summer.
This year, I’ve been unfortunate enough to be suffering from moving-stress syndrome since winter. I had just gotten confirmation that I got my April internship, and promptly had to purge myself of my belongings, close up my university apartment and head west permanently.
Some background into my rental history. My first place in university was in residence. The location was convenient, but sharing a bathroom with 30 other girls was difficult and the food was horrible. The move in and out was quick, the former thanks to frosh week volunteers and organizers, and the latter because it was just one room.
My next place was the basement suite in a three-unit house by campus (otherwise known as student housing).
Again, convenient location, but it was cramped, dirty and some friendships did not survive the lease. Those moves were not so nice, since although the rooms were small, the couch weighed a ton and I just wanted to be done with that place.
My next place, while a good walk to campus, was fabulous. Not only did I not get fined when the residents upstairs threw their garbage in my unit’s bin on garbage day and the landlord had to collect it, but it was bright, had plenty of room to dance around and was a quick walk to all amenities. In other words, I got comfortable.
But moving out was a nightmare.
I hate packing. I hate giving stuff up. I love stuff. I like to accumulate stuff.
But everything pretty much had to go, because I wouldn’t need it and/or have space for it. Plus, it costs a small mint to ship stuff from Nova Scotia to Alberta. So off it went, to goodwill, my sister’s place and her boyfriend’s house (on the bright side, he has a wonderful guest room now).
That process wound-me up, since I was constantly second guessing myself. You know the process; you don’t need those plates. But they’re so pretty! I love this mirror, but it won’t travel well. I will make it fit in my suitcase! Your luggage is going to be overweight!
But I did it. I got rid of 75 percent of my worldly possessions (a good 10 percent was in Calgary already), and off I went.
Que the summer of job hunting, bringing me to Taber.
In regards to Taber apartment hunting, I knew that my choices would be limited. It wasn’t a college city like Halifax, or a big urban capital like Calgary. High-rises would be non-existent, and low rises would be little in number. I was prepared to compromise, and pay my own utilities.
What I did not expect, however, was the aversion to pets.
You see, over the summer, I got a kitten. A cute, quiet and cuddly kitten, whom I shall refer to from this point on as Cat. Cat is tidy, clean, affectionate and, unlike previous cats, has never pooped anywhere else but in her litter box. I knew that some places don’t allow pets, but in my experience, ‘no pets’ generally means ‘no dogs’.
Every place I looked at was ‘no pets – no exceptions’, and, upon asking if a small kitten would be an exception, was told a very serious and prompt ‘NO’. In one instance, I was told that cats were considered worse then dogs in terms as companions. I get it, you want the place to stay clean, and so do I. That’s why you train said animals to not claw up the walls or pee on the carpets.
But, Alberta doesn’t have any laws preventing landowners from kicking you out if you sneak a cat in, so I looked at a bunch of places (the few and far between) that did allow cats.
The first few apartments I looked at?
Just no. Uh-uh. No way.
In one place, the windows didn’t work and they admitted that ants would come in during the fall. If they admitted ants were coming in, what else was? Another smelt of cat pee, there was a hole in the floor and had rattling windows.
Luckily, I managed to find a rare gem of an apartment, but due to renovations, it wouldn’t be ready until mid-October.
Picture the scene:
I get an email, telling me to start by Oct. 1 at the latest. I am rushing to furnish an apartment I can’t move into until two weeks after I start work, that I have only seen once and don’t know the dimensions of, I know only the people at the Taber Times and my landlord, and my editor goes on vacation after saying he knows people I can stay with until my apartment is ready. Add the stress from having moved not even six months before and facing another move.
I’m frankly surprised my family didn’t murder me.
Luckily, my editor came through within a week, getting me in contact with a great couple who let me crash in their guest room for three weeks. I gather all my new stuff together, and then comes the real horror of moving; packing.
I hate packing almost as much as I hate getting rid of stuff. The endless repetitiveness of opening boxes, wrapping stuff up and sealing the box up is maddening. You know that you’re just going to throw it all away at the end, but the stuff won’t survive the move unless you wrap it in endless amounts of bubble wrap, so you have to do it. Then off I went to Taber, and I didn’t see my stuff for three weeks.
Then came moving day.
Unlike the previous times, professional movers were hired to do the move, mainly because my family was not doing a three-hour drive to get a couch through my front door. Plus, we knew no big guys we could bribe with pizza and beer.
They came and got everything in with surprising efficiency and speed. But professional movers et all, plus they had to head back to Calgary. Then came my mad dash to get the kitchen unpacked, since my mother was coming with Cat the next day to help me organize the place, and get my IKEA bookcases together.
For those wondering why I made my mother put IKEA furniture together, she volunteered and I kept her coffee cup full the entire time. I swear I am not a bad daughter.
The kitchen is always the least fun to unpack – not only are you hiding the majority of your stuff away, but it’s also primarily practical stuff. Even in the bathroom you can get cute soap dishes, but short of a blue coffee maker, it’s pretty hard to get excited about pans when you do little baking.
The next day, mom came and we got to unpack the fun stuff. You know what I’m talking about; mirrors, pictures, lanterns, sparkly things – all the stuff needed to give a room pizzazz and make it livable. But once everything is unpacked, you have to deal with the packing material that Cat is hiding in, because she likes the sound the cardboard makes when she jumps on it.
A word of advice; it may seem like a smart idea to stuff garbage bags with plastic, but don’t. Those bags won’t fit through the doors at the local recycling center, and people give you Looks when you have to pull bubble wrap out and stuff it through the shoot by hand. And bring another person with you to help you with the cardboard; otherwise you’re racing after it when the wind takes it.
By the end of the weekend, there’s not a trace of bubble wrap left in the apartment. My hands are dry and cracking from all the cardboard handling. Cat is tracking – but won’t pounce on – the fly that came in when the movers were here. My back hurts and I can’t remember where I put the teapot to save my life.
But it’s mine. I’m surrounded by my stuff. I can dance to whatever song comes on my devices. I can cuddle with Cat again. I have a space to call my own. But I don’t want to see another cardboard box for a very long time.