Goodbye Thorncliffe Park!

Ready yourselves – this post isn’t about food or fitness or nutrition. In just under a month, we’re moving from our 1 bedroom estate in the hinterland to a snug studio in the heart of the city. That means downsizing. Big time!

We’re reasonably well-acquainted with the tenets of minimalism, but now we’ve got to walk the talk. I thought I’d been pretty thorough with Kon-Mari-ing the place about six months ago, only to discover mountains of detritus to ditch. This is partly because we need to cut every ounce of extraneous fat to fit into our new place. But it’s just as much about revisiting the core of minimalist philosophy, and getting tough on clutter.

I’ve always kept meticulous records – financial, medical, warranties, the works. When I was going through the Everest of papers on hand, I was stunned at the level of redundancy. There are certain documents that are necessary, and then there are old calendars and time sheets, pay stubs and records of employment that aren’t needed. Stacks and stacks of rubbish, taking up valuable space, and making it that much harder to find what’s important. Gone!

As for the rest of it, we’re trying to get off the ‘what if’ train. Part of that involves letting go of convention as it applies to possessions. For example, we’re getting rid of almost all of our dishes. That might seem nuts on the face of it, but let’s look more closely.

We last used dinner plates at Xmastime, when the Fella’s family came for dinner. The bowls that go with the set are used on occasion, same goes for the side plates, but not often enough to justify the cupboard space. Rather than hanging onto the idea of what a kitted kitchen should contain, we looked at what we actually use day-to-day and kept only that. The few exceptions to that rule are items that are too useful to let go of*.

So, now comes a time of decision: to sell or to donate? Thus far, Freecycle has been our greatest ally in the fight against clutter. In a matter of days, we’ve divested ourselves of nearly all the large furniture pieces that need to go. Plus, pick-up is baked into the deal; you’re getting something for nothing, so you get to pick it up. Since neither of us drive (no license, no car), it’s like heaven. If we were forced to donate things, we’d have to beg, borrow or steal the means for getting everything from our house to the thrift shop. And as much as we’d have liked to give to the Furniture Bank, we simply can’t afford to have them come and get stuff. Tax receipts are great and all, but we kind of need that $300, and can’t use the deduction anyway.

I can’t say I’ll miss much about this place. As much as I’m making sure to temper my enthusiasm by reminding myself that the grass is always greener, there is so much to look forward to. Despite its diminutive size, our new place has a spectacular southern view, overlooking the CN tower and the lakeshore. It’s walking distance from almost anything we could want, and a short transit ride to everything else. It’s bustling, lively and properly cosmopolitan.

Thorncliffe Park is high-density apartments and little else. Everything’s a hike (or a transit slog), and despite living in such close quarters with so many other people, there is little to no neighbourly consideration. Every group rubs every other the wrong way and it’s hard to make friends. It’s a shame, really, because it could be a vibrant little community in its own right – even a destination – but there’s a cycle of apathy at work. Residents see little being spent on the neighbourhood, so they refuse to care for it. The city sees residents mistreating or destroying any improvements, so they stop spending money here. Round and round it goes, until you end up with a pair of rubbish bins on fire next to the playground full of broken glass, and a desperate search for absolutely anywhere else.

When we arrived in Toronto, we arrived here. When we came back from our life-hiatus in Brampton, we came back here. And yet, as we say goodbye one last time, we’re hard-pressed to shed a tear.

*I love my pressure cooker so much!!