City to the burbs

I had the chance to live in downtown Ottawa for almost a year. I had fantasized about doing so when I was a teenager in the 90s wandering around downtown to temporarily escape, even if just for the day, my suburban home where I lived with my parents and my little sister.

It seemed to me that living downtown would be THE life. I mean, come on… all the downtown cafés and bars and boutiques and museums and people. I had this romantic idea in my head of living in an old apartment building with high ceilings, charming creaky wood floors and thick baseboards. I would write and paint and draw and have cool artistic and eccentric friends drop by on a whim.

Fast forward to 2015-2016. I finally got my chance to live downtown, but in an old 80s condo that has seen better days. The commute to my government job was fantastic – a mere 5-minute walk. But the ceilings were regular height. The floors were a combination of ugly white tiles and ordinary laminate. I wrote on my laptop in my bed. I didn’t paint or draw. There were no cool artistic and eccentric friends dropping by on a whim (I probably wouldn’t have really enjoyed that). The cafés and boutiques I loved in the 90s no longer exist. I’m now a 42-year-old introvert who prefers to spend time alone, with my daughter or with Mr. Romantic.

There are things I liked about living downtown. I liked to be within walking distance from coffee shops, restaurants, museums, and interesting city architecture. Whenever I would feel lonely or bored, all I had to do is step outside and start wandering a little. Within minutes the loneliness or boredom dissipated.

However, there were things I didn’t like about living downtown, such as the constant rumblings of the city. I never felt at peace. There was always this feeling of mild inner disruption. Perhaps I was more sensitive to it because I grew up in a quiet suburb near rapids where the only rumblings were the occasional lawnmower during the day, kids playing, birds chirping or the sound of the rapids carried into the open window by the summer night air.

I’ve now moved in with Mr. Romantic in his suburban Kanata town home. The quiet neighbourhood reminds me a little of where I grew up. The only immediate backyard neighbours are chirping birds and the occasional wandering deer. We’re a 5-minute walk away from a beautiful Greenbelt path. As soon as we get onto that path, I feel calm. I've also changed jobs. I now work further east and live further west. Perhaps a long commute is just what I'm destined for. Woe is me!

A few things contributed to making the move from the city back to the burbs so easy, despite the long commute to work. First, obviously, falling in love. I get to live with Mr. Romantic. Second, I think is the trip I took to New York City with Mr. Romantic back in March. When I got back home after that trip, Ottawa seemed so small to me. Leaving it behind wasn't a big deal anymore.

I’m glad I got to experience living in downtown Ottawa. I might do it again someday, but most likely in another part of town. For the time being, I’m glad to be back in a place closer to nature, where I feel more at peace, living with the man I love.

Living downtown was a short lovely little adventure. Now on to my next adventure – the Kanata burbs.

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