My recent purchase has got me thinking about the various places I’ve lived – and how wildly unprepared I’ve been for certain aspects of living on your own.
I grew up in my family home in Thornhill, Ontario and stayed there until graduating High School, when I immediately fled to the West Coast to live the Ski Bum dream. While in Whistler, I lived in Staff Housing, which was more of a glorified Rez situation than my own apartment. After Whistler came University, where I lived in a Rez building on Campus – again, not really my own place. So really, the first time in my life that I felt like I had procured myself an independent (read: No Parent, Employer or Academic control) living environment was during my second year at University when my friend Marie and I rented a first floor apartment in a building known as ‘The Ritz’.
Ritz-y, our apartment was not, however it had more than enough space (we eventually had a victim of fire take over our dining room) and it was all ours! We were able to get Cable and Internet all hooked up, and were happily settle in before school started. The apartment was so close to school and town, it was incredibly convenient, and was right on the main drag of town so we had lots of visitors. Happy, happy campers we were!
To try to control costs and save money a bit, we decided to not turn our heat on until after Halloween. The Eastern Townships of Quebec (where my beautiful university is hidden) tends to have pretty fierce winters, and they can start EARLY. We managed to make it to Halloween, no problem. The next day, in a hungover blur, Marie and I ceremoniously turned up the heat – I think to about 15 degrees. We were being conservative.
The first week went by with fairly mild weather, so we left the thermostat where it was. The next few weeks, however, brought on some sure signs of winter and temperatures plummeted. At first we thought we were just adjusting to the season, that we would feel comfortable inside eventually. I think we cracked during the third week, and turned the temperature up to 18-20, confident that we would be now be comfortable, and would slowly turn the dial down as we adjusted to winter weather.
By the end of the fourth week, we were wearing mittens to watch TV. I think we progressed to toques the following week, and were generally always bundled up. During those two weeks, we also adjusted the temperature up 1 or 2 degrees every couple of days, eventually having the temperature hovering somewhere over 30 degrees Celsius – or so we thought.
It was somewhere in the first week of December, when temperatures ranged from a few degrees above zero to a chilly -15 (thank you Weather Network!), that the light bulb turned on. I’d like to say that we figured out the problem ourselves, or even tried calling the Landlord – instead of just hoping that the next temperature increase on the dial was the ticket. Unfortunately I can’t remember who it was that solved the case. We certainly had enough visitors, and more than enough typical pre-drinking shenanigans during this time – which begs the question of why no one mentioned this earlier. Whoever the genius was, all it took was a side-bar comment along the lines of “Did you guys actually turn the heat on?” Looks of confusion dart across the room between Marie and I – “What do you mean by ‘turn it on?’. ”
After some words of wisdom were imparted, off we went in search of the Electrical box where, of course, one of the switches was clearly labelled Heat. We flicked it on, heard the heater ramp up, and could smell the effects of the old system heating up within minutes. We were saved!
In remembering this story, and my apparent ignorance in regards to ‘how stuff works’, I’m suddenly very glad I’m shacking up with two able bodied men. I can’t imagine the kind of household stuff that would confuse or evade me if I were to ever live on my own. I think my need for populated living arrangements is really just self preservation.