Anyone who has ever had to move can likely attest to the abhorrent nature of it. The tedious chore of placing one’s life into boxes, bags and footlockers for the purpose of migration are all staples in the song and dance of relocation. On the list of life’s most arduous undertakings, moving must be somewhere near the top of that vexatious enumeration.
This past weekend, I got to experience that devoir first hand—I moved into a new apartment. For the first time in just over 5-years, I entered into a functional domicile, complete with one-bedroom and a deck many floors above ground level.
When I first moved away from my chaotic cohabitation of broken romance and crumbling sanity, I existed within dwellings of less than reasonable appeal. There was the bachelor/studio apartment downtown, conveniently festooned with undesirables for neighbours. What kind of undesirables? My closest neighbour, a child predator that was later arrested for the attempted luring of a minor from their place to his. The apartment to my right, a woman with a ferociously toxic abuser for a boyfriend—those 03:00am fights were next level. And when I relocated from there to what I had hoped and assumed to be better living accommodations, I was greeted by an apathetic landlord who cared little for the idea of running water and heat in the winter. As long as rent was paid on time, he didn’t care for me in the slightest. All of this was made possible by the fact that I was a raging alcoholic who simply needed a place to rest his drunken head. Modest opulence was of little concern to the inebriated mind.
Upon reaching 1-year of sobriety, I finally made the decision to gift myself a residence befitting that of adulthood and recovery. A laborious search by any measure. Living in a massive city ironically lends itself to plenty of uninhabitable places that boast cheap rent. Inversely to that, egregiously overpriced places of questionable yet sometimes reasonable inhabitancy. It’s like choosing the best worst option. But, after a few appointments and some “no thank you(s),” I found it—the diamond in the rough. Located near the top of an ascending mid-rise was a vacant dwelling that did everything except call my name. It housed an in-suite washer/dryer, air-conditioning, a deck and stainless-steel appliances as well as a real and appropriately sized bedroom—this was it… home!
I put the application in and was approved almost instantly. A swell of joy and somber reflection competed for thinking space within my head—It’s quite the journey I’ve been on…
Anyway, the day would arrive—moving day. I had readied my belongings for transportation and at the behest of my dear friend, Eric, forewent the rental of any moving trucks. Eric insisted that he would help me move at no cost to me, something he has done from kindness in the past. He text me the night before to inform me that he was bringing his son, a 14-year-old boy standing at the precipice of manhood. I was grateful to have the assistance and even more content with the fact that I would be partaking in this labour-intensive slog with friends as opposed to robotic movers.
On the morning of the move, Eric arrived with son and trailer in tow. His son, eager and lanky to help began hauling boxes and bunches of things from door to truck. Eric and I are good friends, I consider him family, so, we of course devolved into our normal ritual of adolescent behavior rife with name-calling and competitive flatulence—Eric won with a near lethal anal arsenal. Both his son and I doubled over at times, fearing for our lives! (I’m only partially joking).
It was fun. We laughed and joked our way through most of the day. I am pretty sure Eric’s boy developed shredded abs from his continuous laughter at our shenanigans. This was guy time. It was also during this testosterone fueled grind that I became aware of something… something beautiful (beautiful other than the freshness of the outdoors when fleeing Eric’s deadly farts)… in all seriousness, what I was noticing was quite remarkable. I was witnessing what true paternal instinct looked like. I was seeing fatherhood. I watched Eric coach and guide his boy from one task to the next, allowing him the freedom to navigate assignments on his own all the while keeping a watchful eye over his urchin.
This imagery was in complete juxtaposition of what I had growing up. My father was not kind nor loving. He bestowed upon me no lessons of merit or guidance worthy of adhering to. Eric was and is vastly different. Watching him gleam proudly when his boy would complete something or watching his shoulders drop with annoyance when his son’s zeal became too much were equally satisfying sights to ingest—because both of the aforementioned were saturated by an uncompromising love.
Both as a boy and as a medic, I was thrust into fractured family environments. I do not think I can explain to you the level of angst and turmoil I felt when walking into scenes that had seemingly been scripted from my own childhood. Observing victims of fatherhood neglect and insidious abuse always weighed heavy on my crown. Watching Eric and his boy was a bit like therapy: a demonstration of good triumphing over evil. The good stuff.
I have always known Eric to be a good man, that was never in question. Anyone who is willing to help people move free of cost is damn near saintly in my eyes. But despite having known Eric for almost 5-years, I have never spent much time with him and his family together. So the prolonged exposure to how he operates as a dad gifted me with a new sense of adoration for this man. Like I said before: I witnessed something beautiful… the first thing to move into my new place, was love.
After a hefty 13-plus-hours of moving, I was now situated within my new abode—thanks to Eric and his boy. It was after midnight by the time they had finally left. When the dust of the day had settled, I found myself sitting quietly on my couch, nestled within a darkened room, the only source of light was from the ambient glow of street lamps and far away stars. I could see lingering shadows of the day, watching Eric masterfully implement the perfection of fatherhood. I felt a subtle smile pull at one corner of my mouth. Today had been moving day. And it really was… a moving day.
Eric, thank you. Many thanks to you and your boy.