Friday, July 27, 2012

Stark can be beautiful: reflections on moving and loss

It almost looks like a cell of some sort.
The desk top is now clean.
The bag of clothes laundered.
The building I live in and am leaving
is decades old.
The truck driver who drove my
earthly treasures away
commented to me that
he could tell that the building was really old
and that they don't really put any money
for it's upkeep.
Which, until things become dire,
is sadly true.
It is so hard to keep this place clean.
The wood floors have lost their protective finish
and most of their colour.
The windows are never washed outside.
I have been cleaning for most of today.
My new yellow sponge will never be the same.
It is such a shock to suddenly
not have my dishes,
my cutlery,
my laundry racks for drying
(a necessity with apartment laundry machines
that fry everything).
When I was talking to Orthoman tonight
about something I wanted to get for our new house
I had to explain that I did not know where
down South
to get the item.
It will be a steep learning curve.
Not only will I need to learn to be a good wife
but I have to learn a new sub-culture,
a new town,
new stores, new brands;
my cereals are made in Canada
 and cannot be replaced.
Meat laws in the States are wretched and I
will be doing as much organic as possible.
My Hewitts farm yogurt from this area of Canada
is irreplaceable.
I have been looking and looking for good yogurt down South
and have yet to find any
other than one brand that is from Quebec.
No Cadbury Canadian chocolate.
No Frys cocoa.
Margarine will be in sticks instead of squares
by Imperial.
No Milk in a bag.
Ottawa is a big fair-trade town,
with Bridgehead (organic, fair-trade) coffee shops and
Camino chocolate.
When I am in Michigan I go to a local
American-Chinese restaurant;
the great thing about this place is being with my family.
But the Chinese food makes me shudder.
They don't know how to do a shrimp stir-fry with cashews.
The cashews were soggily drowning in a gallon
of clear sauce and none of the veggies crisp.
Even the nondescript, practically
urban-seedy Chinese restaurants do not

do this in Ottawa;
when I asked for chop sticks in Michigan they had to take them
from their decorative display.
It was, I realized, an odd request.
Suddenly I felt cultured, being able to use chop sticks.
(I was taught how to use them by Korean students I tutored
years ago in BC).
I moved my dresser into my living room;
I have my little icon corner under my St. George icon
there, with my prayer books
and books on marriage.
I went to the local grocery store and bought
bread, milk and orange juice.
Today that seemed a huge accomplishment.
Mon-Thursday were days where I was traveling or packing
for 14 hours a day.
I just survived packing my house
with lots of help
in two days.
Thank God for my friends,
Thank God.
I could of never made it...
This morning I slept and slept.
Tomorrow morning I have to take Cleo for her last vet
appointment for her vaccines.
Poor Cleo Cat.
The afternoon I cleaned and cleaned.
sweeping, cleaning, window washing.
I am determined to give the next tenant
the best start to this place
as possible.
It is a great location.
I still believe that the Mother of God gave
me this apartment
painted in blue.
I had to learn to be really aware of others here.
My friend from Romania says that walls in this
apartment are thinner than the ones in
the new Romanian cities that
were built during communist times.
If my neighbour sneezes,
I hear it.
So it is a really unique place to live.
My last apartment was newer
and the walls very thick.
Unfortunately new construction is shoddy now days
and even new things are not as good
or sound proof.
Really though, this apartment
for me began with learning French
then saw me go through some great struggles as
I continued to look for work
and then ended with joy
of meeting my Orthoman
and in it I learned a bit more of what it is to love,
to offer hospitality,
to be aware of other's suffering,
to try to be kind in an apartment where
there can be very little sound barriers between
my two neighbours.
I have many dreams for future dinner parties.
My two friends that helped me move
yesterday helped me move over two years ago
into this apartment that I am now leaving.
They both said they remembered it being empty like it is now
when we began moving things in and
we reflected on all the dinner parties that I have had here.
It is so strange that I am hoping for more dinner parties
with my dear Orthoman
and none of my friends who always come to my
dinner parties will be here.
My last 'dinner party' here was with these two friends.
I put the yellow and orange tissue paper that
I had left over from a gift
on the old wood table
that I found years ago by the side of the road and
carried single-handily
over 5 blocks to my old apartment that I moved out of
I think in 2009.
My two friends and I ate take-out from a local pub
as we waited for the truck driver to come back
to pick up the trailer.
Pizza, a hamburger and fries and a chicken cranberry salad
with walnuts
were our dinner choices
eaten out of Styrofoam and with plastic forks.
And my beloved gold arm chair
that was my fathers
is staying behind in Ottawa.
I and Cleo will miss it.
Cleo is laying on the floor near by to me.
She seems okay overall, but
this much change is not easy on either of us.
I did not even know where my prayer books were this morning.
Thankfully things are being re-located.
And I saved a tin of tea light candles to have by my icons.
I am struck at how much I want my environment to be
ordered, clean, with icons and candles.
I found myself asking God how anyone lived
years ago with horrible plumbing and no bathtubs and
no icons and books.
So truly I have so much to be thankful for.
Including this blog and the community
who listens to me
as I go towards marrying the Orthoman I love
and who loves me.


Matushka Anna said...

Hugs, honey. Moving is hard. The last bits especially. Prayers as you make the transition.

Anna said...

Moving is so hard - especially when everything else is changing at the same time. But even in your photo, the space beyond that almost-bare, soon-to-be-deserted little cell is full of light.

And you can make your own yogurt - I do :) But I must confess I use containers from my favourite yogurt at home in Canada, for storage here in my kitchen in England ;)

Tango is exploring outside for the first time this morning. He is having a great time - he went off for an hour but is now sunning himself and sharpening his claws on the wooden back step - while my nerves are in shreds!

margaret said...

This made me a little tearful. Is it really two years since you moved into this apartment? I am so glad you are moving out the way you are - to go to Daniel and a new, real home.

matushka constantina said...

Your post reminds me of all the things I'll need to relearn when we return to Canada. I've gotten used to small grocery stores and find it overwhelming to go to grocery stores at home, let alone get used to the diet change that is inevitable.

So much change can be difficult, but you'll see how easily you'll adapt "down South". Before you know it it will feel like home, just like Thessaloniki feels like home to us. And you won't be alone, which makes all the difference in world.

Maria said...

Dear Elizabeth, Change is hard, but many wonderful surprises also await you -- discovering local organic yogurt, a new Chinese restaurant that cooks the way you like, and many other such delightful discoveries. From your few descriptions and photos of your new home, I suspect it is not all that far from me, and if I can help you in your discoveries, I will be glad. New England is very "green" with local, natural and organic living. Every supermarket has organic food, there are natural foods coops, local farms, Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Welcome! I am sure you will find everything you need to be comfortable in your new life.

Have you ever done scratch art -- where you scratch patterns on a black-covered page to reveal the colors below? Right now the "unknown" factor may make your new home seem like a black page, but you will soon be discovering the beautiful colors below as you scratch away the black. Truly!

elizabeth said...

Thank you everyone -

Anna - can you email me how you make yogurt?

Maria - thank you very much for your kindness. Perhaps we can email about this? roosje @ yahoo . ca

Thanks everyone - yes - moving is not easy. and Thank God I have my Orthoman! :)

It's the change and leaving Ottawa that is hard but your comments help a lot; thanks...

margaret said...

My experience of New England supermarkets is limited to the one in Oneonta that the Holy Myrrhbearers nuns use and I have even forgotten the name BUT for all that it's in a small town in the midle of nowhere I was completely amazed by the range of vegan (aka fasting) foods and the organic foods. If Oneonata in its supermarket and also the small shops is a guide, Elizabeth, I am confident Maria will be introducing you to great things :)

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

This was such a beautiful post, dear Elizabeth. Your apartment looks almost monastic in its Spartan simplicity - almost like being at a retreat, preparing you for the new and exciting phase in your life which is just beginning.
Sending hugs and very much love !

Maria said...

Elizabeth, I tried that e-mail address and two variations -- first two attempts came back as undeliverable, not sure if the third went through.

elizabeth said...

Hi Maria,

So sorry. I got the email address wrong - do forgive me...

it's actually the following:

roosjeblog @ yahoo . ca

It should work now! Again, so sorry for getting it wrong!!

I am lucky to be thinking strait at all now days... even lost some of my wedding invites... sigh....