I am experiencing Deep Feels.
When I moved to Toronto 15 years ago, it was like a weight lifted off me. I’m from London, Ontario, and I went to one of those high schools they set teen movies in, all football and sexual coercion and mean girls. I felt like the weirdest person in the world, largely because I liked reading and classical new music and didn’t want to drive absolutely everywhere I went or give myself skin cancer in a tanning bed.
So I came to Toronto, and I didn’t feel weird anymore. I felt positively normal. Everywhere you went there was someone at least 3 times weirder than me. You think nose rings are weird, London? Why, that guy on the streetcar has a hole in his ear you could fit a towel rod through. You think my unfortunate tramp stamp tattoo is an abomination unto the Lord? Well, I know someone who has two full sleeves and is trying to find someone who’ll fork her tongue for her.
Anyway. It’s been 15 years and I’m starting to feel weird again.
I rarely show my tramp stamp these days and my nose ring is now completely uncontroversial – even my mother doesn’t remark on it anymore – but I don’t feel like Toronto wants me anymore.
I’m not talking about our legendary unfriendliness. I don’t want to live in a friendly town. I don’t want strangers talking to me or getting all up in my business. I *like* being left alone and disappearing into a crowd.
No, Toronto doesn’t want me because I’m not rich enough.
I work – you have no idea how I work – I work like crazy to pull together something resembling a lower-middle class income. This is to keep a roof over my head and food on my table and my dog in immunosuppressive drugs and blood tests. Here’s a list of things I can’t afford:
- A bigger living space. We’re having a second child in May (yay pregnancy while parenting a toddler) and there’s no fucking way we could buy a bigger house. Houses which were $350K four or five years ago are now $700+. $400 would be a huge stretch, but it’s kind of barely possible? $700K might as well be on the moon. Oh, and if we sold the house and moved into rental housing we’d have to pay like $2500/month in rent to get someplace big enough. Also not possible.
- Haven’t taken a vacation other than to visit family in…4 years? 5 years? And that was just a weekend in Sandbanks.
- A transit pass. $121/month is too much. I seriously think twice about taking the TTC if I can walk or bike. Did I mention that I’m pregnant and fucking exhausted all the time? And I keep pushing myself too hard and it’s kind of a problem?
- Cecil is in preschool for 2 ½ hours 3 days a week, and spends a few hours each week with a babysitter during times when we’re both teaching. This costs us almost $600/month. More childcare than this is completely off the table.
- Dental care. Both me and Ben had dental emergencies this year and they were major, major financial setbacks.
- Major home repair. Yeah, that roof over my head really needs to be redone. Too bad we had to spend all our money to keep our teeth.
- Vet bills. I have been debating whether or not to take Gus to the vet over an infected molar because a) they probably won’t want to do a dental cleaning because they have to anesthetize pets to do dental work and his heart is too weak for that and b) the point is moot because I don’t have $2000 to spend on anyone’s dental work right now.
- Big artistic projects. I have no surplus to put into anything, so I can’t plan anything bigger than a bar show. That’s kind of OK, though, because I don’t have any energy to put into them anyway.
I’m really proud of how we’ve built a life here with pretty limited resources, but I am fucking tired of this constant treadmill without an off button. And if you say, “Kristin, just get a FT job and that’ll solve everything”, fuck you, I’d have to pay for FT daycare if I did, and there’s no way I could get a job that would pay me more than, what, $35k/year, and the waiting list for daycare subsidies is YEARS long.
So we’ve been talking about moving somewhere else, because you can teach piano lessons anywhere, and my other job is possible to do remotely, and we have lots of great small business ideas, and our house is absurdly valuable, so we could probably buy a house in a smaller place without even needing a mortgage, so this is looking like a better and better idea. Only I don’t want to go back to feeling weird, and I don’t want Cecil (who is Sensitive like I am) to feel like the weirdest person in the world with the weirdest parents in the world and just want to get away from us as fast as he can.
So where did all the weird people go, Toronto? The ones who don’t have high-paying day jobs, that is. Where are you all hiding?
Because while our new mayor, John Tory, won’t do anything as embarrassing (or entertaining) as Rob Ford or his asshole brother, he is pretty much exactly the same kind of entitled walking Dunning-Kruger illustration. He isn’t going to fix transit, do anything about affordable housing, address racial or gender inequality, because he is a 60 year old white man who ran Rogers, for fuck’s sake. That doesn’t mean that he *can’t* do anything about social issues, but he would need to have some humility and understanding to even know that he needed to do something, or that he needed to find out what to do from people who are, you know, actually affected by those issues, and there is zero evidence that he is going to do that and lots that he won’t. So what can I look forward to?
If nothing is going to change, why am I still here?