Last week, I was given a notice to vacate my home by Oct. 31.
Anybody renting will tell you that this is always a possibility. We live in a constant state of limbo when at any moment somebody could come tell you that everything, your sense of security and safety as well as your potential to hold down a job and move forward with your life is gone.
Over the past year, I’ve been constantly on edge about this. I report on the housing crisis, and just a few months ago I wrote a story about somebody who was losing their home for very similar reasons to me, and how they were left with nowhere to turn.
They described their stress, their fatigue and their sense of loss of their home, and I can tell you that I know exactly how that feels.
Growing up, we are told that to be successful we have to go to university, get a good job, get married, buy a house and have some kids. I went to university. I got a good job. I got married. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends for me. I’m lost.
Since receiving the notice, I haven’t slept. I spend all of my time checking my phone and seeing if potential landlords will get back to me, hoping that the few places I can afford aren’t taken by the time I get to them.
I’ve watched as rental units are gone as soon as a few hours after I’ve gone to see them, and waited as requests to view units go unanswered.
As I’ve said, I have interviewed people who are in this situation. As heartbreaking as it can be to sit across the table from someone whose whole concept of safety and security has been taken from them, it is nothing to actually experiencing it for yourself.
Home is more than just a place to put your stuff. It is more than just a room you can sleep in when you’re done work. Having a home is being accepted and allowed to exist in a community. When that is taken away, it feels like being kicked out, like you aren’t welcome or a valued member of society.
My whole world has been rocked. I’ve sunk into depression, haven’t slept, barely have eaten and my nerves have been on edge for the better part of a week. I have been walking around in a daze for the last few days, wondering if I’ll still be able to work and live here in two months’ time. And I have it easy! I do have a good job, a car, and I still have a roof over my head for the next two months. I can’t even begin to imagine the toll not having these luxuries must take. I have the utmost respect for people who are living outside or precariously housed. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like.
Sometime in the last week, somebody asked me if, worst case scenario, I would be able to “go back home,” and I realized I don’t even know what that means. This was supposed to be home. I didn’t have another plan, or an escape strategy. This is home.
Somebody else shouldn’t get to decide that for me.