Thursday, October 1, 2009

25 Years And Counting!

25 years ago today I moved to Winnipeg. I'd been born and raised in the country and lived in a couple of small towns as a young adult, but the city was always where I thought I belonged.

This wasn't actually my first time living in Winnipeg. I had been here for about a year and a half in the early 1980's. Back then, my first Winnipeg home was sharing a duplex with two friends near Grant Park. It was a nice little place, but we were subletting from some other friends and there was no way we could afford the rent long term. After that, I moved into a fairly new building in West Broadway. Three girlfriends shared a 2 bedroom apartment in the same building and I was in a small bachelor apartment a couple of floors down. It was great to have my own space and yet be so close to friends. We spent a lot of time together. At that time, West Broadway was just starting to turn rough. By the time I moved out one year later, I was more than ready to leave, but saddened to see the neighbourhood change for the worse. I went by that building a few years later and was even more saddened to see how much it had deteriorated in such a short time.

I was out of work and no job prospects, so I moved back to the farm for a couple of years. I did a couple of odd jobs as well as writing the family histories with my mom. The farm was okay, but I longed for the independence that living in the city would give me.

During the summer of 1984, a friend and I were talking. She was seriously thinking about moving to the city. She had an opportunity to work in a place that was close to her heart spiritually and wanted to spread her wings a bit. We discussed sharing a place for a year or two just so we could both get started. We'd known each other for years and had even traveled a bit together. I'd also stayed with her in her apartment in a nearby town for a week or so. Given that we got along so well, we decided to try it and even set out our own roommate rules/expectations in advance. We set out our budgets and division of responsibilities ahead of time. We left room for changes but it actually worked quite well.

After a couple of days of searching in early September, we finally found a one bedroom apartment that we both liked on Pembina near the University. We moved in on October 1, 1984. We were able to move to a two bedroom on November 15, 1984. We stayed in that building till the end of 1985, then house sat for four months in the northern part of Fort Garry. We went our separate ways in the spring of 1986 but are still good friends.

I moved around the next few years. I spent a year in a cramped attic apartment in Wolseley. It was less than 200 square feet and had an old fridge that had to be defrosted every two weeks in warm weather or it quit working. The landlord also bought me a second hand air conditioner so I wouldn't suffocate, but I nearly froze as it only worked on the coldest setting!

I stayed in Wolseley for another couple of years but moved to a building that had been very beautiful in it's prime with hardwood floors and a big old pedestal bathtub. Sadly, it had been grossly neglected over the years and even the current owners didn't want to put money into repairs. We had to contact a Rentalsman (government housing regulations agency) to get court ordered repairs. I loved that neighbourhood and its peaceful ambiance, but dealing with the building management and lack of care was more than I wanted to deal with, so I chose to leave in March 1990. I moved out to Garden City - to a partially subsidized building with about 75 units - most of which were for people with disabilities. The building was clean, bright and well cared for. It was close to major shopping and buses. This turned out to be a good move, as 8 months later, I suffered my detached retina. Living in the building that I did, gave me access to services that I needed post surgery.

As it turned out there was another reason leaving was a very smart move. My friends who stayed, said things got even worse in that old building. There had been some issues with poor heating from an old boiler, lack of hot water and false fire alarms before I left but these got even worse over the next year or two.

One of the few things that I didn't like about living in Garden City, was how far I was from my doctors and some of my longtime friends. It was a 20 minute bus ride to downtown and took close to an hour to get to some of my friends by bus.

I spent several months looking for a more central, affordable and accessible building. It was a frustrating process, but persistence paid off and I finally found what I was looking for in Osborne Village. I moved here in August 1993.

The Village is one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Canada. It is a melting pot for all generations, income levels and ethnic groups.

About the only thing I don't like about the area is the noise. It can get rather loud during street festivals or after bar hours on some nights, but given the proximity to services, stores, buses and friends, it is something that I have - for the most part - learned to ignore.

Sometimes I still miss the quiet and the peaceful solitude of the country.

Wolseley had that small town feeling of friendliness without nosiness. Garden City and Fort Garry were quiet but not close enough to services and had mediocre bus service - especially on weekends. Pembina wasn't bad, but the traffic was crazy at times. If I could drive, I'd probably think more about moving out of the city or at least to a quiet suburb.

Overall, I like where I am now. It feels like it is the right place for me to be. I have a nice apartment - small but comfortable at just under 500 sq. feet. I have a great view of the city. I can't see myself moving anytime soon, but have learned to never say never!

Sometimes I get the urge, to find a new place - mostly just for the sake of change - but it usually doesn't last. All I have to do is think about packing up 16 years of "stuff" and then unpacking it and learning my way around a new area. That is pretty much enough to squelch the moving bug!

It is hard to believe that I've been in the city half of my life. I've met a lot of interesting people. Some have become close friends. My life has changed a lot in 25 years. I redefined myself and reinvented myself. I've learned to adapt and to adjust in ways I never thought I would. I've grown up and hopefully matured - at least a little bit!


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