Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 174: what cannot be replaced

I have always wanted to live in this neighborhood.  There is so much history here.  Personal history, especially. Both sides of my family immigrated to Canada and settled in this neighborhood in the early 60’s. My late uncle still has a grocery store down the street from me with the family name proudly displayed.
So I was thrilled to find an apartment here that fit my budget. The location is perfect. I’m so close to the mountain I can be jogging in the forest after a short 5 minute walk through the city. This neighborhood feels like home to me; I couldn’t imagine living in Montreal and not living around here. The problem is, all these buildings are old. Very old. Some could even be heritage sites.  The good landlords renovate to code, but a lot of others will do the bare minimum just so that it’s livable.
When I found this place I was happy. I saw the potential. It was a ‘fix-me-upper’.  And what had me sold was that it had two balconies; one in the back and one off the bedroom closet.  It’s a wasted closet, really. I soon discovered that in the winter it’s so cold because of the draft from the balcony door. So last year, I couldn’t take it anymore, and asked my landlord to seal it off.  I sacrificed a balcony for a warmer living space.  However, when winter came this year it was still ridiculously cold in that closet. 
I made the fateful decision to transfer my everyday clothes to the living room closet and put a bunch of storage things in the bedroom one (summer clothes, spring jackets, bags, shoes and a lot of paperwork). Things I wouldn’t need on a daily basis.  I avoided opening that door all winter unless necessary as it would let in so much cold air.
Until last week, when I ventured in to get a lighter jacket. I was disgusted at the stench in there. Mildew, I thought.  But when I put my jacket on I discovered green mold on the sleeve. This weekend I decided to take everything out and assess the situation. I was horrified to discover that everything was covered in green, mossy mold. Everything.  Apparently it was from condensation build up, ice crystals that melted and re-froze, etcetera. And because I had the outside door sealed shut and never opened the inside door, humidity grew and grew.
The walls need to be cleaned and half my things need to be thrown away.  The landlord is taking care of the situation today and getting a professional company to clean before he re-insulates the walls. But he cannot fix the things that have been damaged.  I don’t even care that my clothes and shoes are ruined (I used to work in high end fashion so many Valentino suits, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton bags are covered in moss) and that thousands of dollars are going in the trash. What broke my heart today was seeing my drenched journals. I have been writing in them since I was 12. They are green and wet now.  I also have a keepsake box, filled with photographs, newspaper clippings, and letters accumulated over my lifetime. My grandfather's favourite fedora...  I'm not sure they're salvagable. I’m overwhelmed and very, very sad.
Some things are so valuable to the heart and cannot be replaced. You know? My favorite neighborhood and my charming apartment betrayed me.
I need a vacation.


  1. that is so sad.. are they so badly damaged?

    i totally understand what you're going through.. i would be depressed if it happened to me...take a break.. try deviating your mind.. as you said, take a vacation :)

  2. Hang in there. Writing is good medicine.


  3. Oh Tanya! I'm so sorry. These things are not replaceable and I can imagine how bereft you feel. Want to come meet me in Italy?

  4. And now I have to make comment #2. Some years back friends of my paid thousands of dollars to have a new kitchen installed in their old home. The builders left finally and my friends drove away straight afterwards to meet people for dinner. When they arrived home some hours later they were greeted by fire engines and police - their house had burned down (installing the new wiring had disturbed the old thus causing a fire) The shell of the house was there but they lost everything - and I mean everything. And they were devastated. But when they got past the shock and despair stage they started to reassess what 'things' mean to them. I know you want sympathy now (and you have it) but you will get over the loss of these things, not matter how irreplaceable they are - I promise you.
    Now do you want to meet me in Italy?

  5. @lines n shades + Anjie: thanks for reading and for your kind comments. :)

    @Liz: Ugh, what a terrible story! Poor them. I know things can always be worse, truth is (as sad as I am about it)it's not the end of the world. Maybe my past grew mold for a reason, so that I could let it go. This being a time capsule of one whole year I decided to write about it. As for Italy, I would come in a heartbeat, it's never far from my thoughts. But no Euro vacation this year, unfortunately. Lots of road trips with my camera, I've decided. :-)