As the ridiculously cheesy house signs say…home is where the heart is. And 16 years ago this month, I took possession of a teeny-tiny bungalow in one of Winnipeg’s most notorious neighbourhoods and it’s had a grasp on my heart ever since.
When I first bought this little gem, it had a beige living room (lamé!), greyed floors (gah!), linoleum as a tub surround (the horror!) and a wolf mural (seriously), which my aunt called “really cool.” Umm, ok. The unfinished basement looked like it was once a grow-op and the old coal storage room had a mailbox on its door. WHY WAS THERE A MAILBOX NAILED ON A DOOR OF A LITTLE SEALED OFF ROOM?! I found a few B&W pics of a kid in said mailbox. Creepy wasn’t even the half of it.
Anyways, this place was no great shakes, but it had potential. Those grey wood floors were in ok shape, the kitchen had a nook (gotta love a good nook!), and the house was awash in sunlight — I fully believe a bright, sunny living space is essential to your happiness and well-being. Plus, the house was CHEAP! Laughably so. And for a girl in her twenties who had like zero funds whatsoever, it was perfect.
As the years have come and gone, there’s not much left to do to this old girl. Slowly, each room has had a facelift, some bigger than others, some easier than others, some more painful than others. Pain as in, “Seriously, is this reno ever going to be completed? Why, why, why did I think this was a good idea? I can’t even right now. I can’t even.” I’m sure you’ve been there, lived through that.
Or physical pain as in my mother and I thought painting the outside of the house would be a fantastic idea. It was not. I’m still sore and ladders scare the crap out of me now. Not as much as clowns, but it’s close.
But it was all worth it. Coming home now is like being enveloped in a cozy blanket. Not only do I enjoy living in this space, but the memories created within these walls have me smiling when I move from room to room. This solid abode, which has given me few problems over the years, deserves to be treated right. I think the same can be said about the community I live in. The much-maligned West End does not deserve all the hate. I heart this community. It’s central, close to everything, full of art, colour and greenery and abounds with diverse people of all ages, cultures and creeds. It’s a community where people are there to help when you need it AND stay out of your business when you don’t.
One day, I’m probably going to have to move on from this little house — a place I consider my own personal art installation — and I know I’m going to cry like a baby saying goodbye to it and this neighbourhood.
This house was my first real adventure into being an adult, and as much as those adventures can be tumultuous and full of uncertainty, right now, as I look back on the ride, I can’t see any of that, I can only see a young girl looking up at this place from the front street and seeing its potential and smiling because she knows she’s going to make something out of it.