June 3, 2012

Sharing Memories (Week 23): Leaving Home

This is Week 23 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey for 2012. This is our third year writing our memoirs and childhood memories for our descendants.

If you are just joining us, you can take a peek at the last two years' of prompts by clicking on the Sharing Memories tab at the top of the blog. You can jump in at any time and you can skip topics that you don't like. There are no rules, it's all about getting your memories down on paper. The prompts are here as a guide to help if you are stuck for ideas.

Share your memories here in the comment section, on your own blog, or privately in a journal you keep at home. The important thing is to write.

This week's prompt is Leaving Home. When did you leave home? How old were you? Was it for a job? To get married? To live on your own? To move? My memories of moving out aren't pleasant but not all our memories will be good ones. If we're going to be honest in our writings we need to record those memories too.

I was pretty young when I left home to go to University. My mother had already left me behind two years before when she moved from our small town to a larger city some 4 hours distant. I had just turned 16 and my siblings took turns moving in with me. It's kind of a fuzzy memory but I recall my brother and his wife being there for a bit after my mother left. I think my sister and her husband came to stay with me for awhile too.

Then I spent my last school year from September to May with my mother, and then I was gone. It was the big city of Toronto for me! It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I had nowhere to live as I wasn't accepted into Residence.

My mother and I found a furnished room in a horrible section of the city and I moved in. I had to share the one bathroom with 16 other people, most of them drunks who I was scared I'd meet in the hall at night. I wouldn't use the tub as it was black with filth and mold. There was no shower so I existed on sponge baths the whole time I lived there.

I shared a small kitchen with a young couple who had a tiny baby but there were cockroaches so I wouldn't use that either. Instead I bought a one-burner hot plate which was against the rules, and cooked what I could manage on that.

The door to my room didn't lock properly so I barred it at night with the dilapidated furniture that was in the room. I remember having Bell install my phone and the young service guy expressed his dismay at me living there. He asked if my parents knew I was there and said he would never let his daughter live in such a place. He went on to add that it was a know residence of druggies, winos and prostitutes.

That scared me so I called my mother but she said if I wanted to move I had to find a place on my own because she wasn't coming back to the city for a day of looking for another place that we could afford. She urged me to stay where I was and not to give in to such "silliness". That was her favourite and most often used expression with me.

It was pretty bad living there, but after several months I did manage to find another furnished room that was in a much better area of the city. It was also clean and I only had to share the bathroom with one other person.

Were your experiences leaving home better than mine? Don't get me wrong, I was glad to leave and start my new life, and nothing terrible happened to me but I felt pretty isolated and adrift for quite awhile. My mother never came to visit the whole time I was in University and that added to my feelings of being quite alone in the world. I don't remember any of my siblings ever expressing any concern or interest in what I was doing or how I was doing either.

But in the end it all turned out just fine. And I think I became the strong person I am today because of my early circumstances.


Jennifer Alford said...

My what a scary first experience on your own! I am glad nothing bad happened while you were there. I am certainly even more grateful that i was so lucky to live in the dorm when i went to college.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

You were very brave then and brave now to tell your story. How sad that you were left to fend for yourself in such a terrible place when you were so young.

Kristin said...

That was pretty sad all around. I'm glad it worked out in the end. And glad you found a better room before too long!