Back in the good old days (earlier this year) when I was not-so-gainfully employed but happy in my work, I used to enthusiastically sing the praises of change to my recently unemployed clients. There they would sit in front of me with their still shell-shocked faces reflecting the brutality of having been told their services were no longer needed, i.e., they were no longer wanted. It’s a hard pill to swallow at anytime, but especially during a particularly bad recession. I knew I had to get them beyond all the negativity somehow. I took my job very seriously and wasn’t content just to sugar-coat the message and tell them, “Yes, indeedy, with just a few nips and tucks to your resume you too will be reemployed in no time at all.” Sure, I’d help with the resume, but first, I had to help with the spirit — or at least that’s what I thought. What else could I do? Sit and lament with them about the injustice of the modern workplace? Shake a fist or two into the sky cursing bad bosses and owners who move operations to China or back to the States? No, all I could do was use my words and my sincerity to help them through a very bad time.
I became a cheerleader — minus the pompoms — for Change. “Embrace it! Love it! Enjoy it! Move on!” Almost always, I’d get that look of “Easy for you to say, you still have a job.” I could have told them that four days a month and not every month hardly even constitutes a “job” in the usual terms, but I didn’t. Instead, I’d turn on my upbeat, truthful self and say, sure, change is scary, but, hey it’s what life is all about, eh? It’s the natural state of things. (If I had remembered it, I could have quoted Heraclitus — “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man” — but I had purposely tried to forget that quote as soon as I heard it. It came into my life in a graduate course in my early days in Oh Canada when I was chaotically drowning in too many changes coming all at the same time.) I’d tell them, instead, about how I’ve had to recreate my work self over-and-over-and-over again since I came here. It hasn’t been easy, and I certainly haven’t made a lot of money, but it was a whole lot more interesting than staying in a job I hated. Sometimes, not always, my own story would give someone the little boost they needed to change and move on. It was good work and I was very good at that work. But then, they restructured the program putting me, and all the others like me, out of a job. One of those same clients I had rah-rah-rahed to about change, emailed me and said, “Now, you need to listen to Ann.”
She was right and I have. But work change is not so bad for me to accept since I’ve been unemployed — or underemployed — more often than employed since I’ve come to Canada. This is, indeed, a natural state for me. But what really makes me sad and emotionally messes me up more than I care to say, are all these little (well not so little) changes in my day-to-day meanderings in my neighborhood. First, Nobu, who has been cutting my hair and trimming my nails for 15 years, ups and moves — just like that. One day she was around the corner, the next a streetcar ride away. It wasn’t her choice — the salon closed down. She’s still close enough, I guess, and the haircuts and nail polishing are just as good but, now, I just can’t stop in when I walk by and say hello. I miss all that juicy gossip that she and Wanda gathered about what was happening on College Street and which computer store was folding that week and where to buy the best fruit in the market.
Next, Wonderworks, my all time favorite place to buy quirky, inexpensive gifts for everyone for birthdays, Christmases, and Just-Because-You-Need-It Days, lost their lease on Harbord Street. Some mysterious Russian financiers bought the building and booted this new age, goddess-centered, incense burning boutique out of my neighborhood. Phooey. Then, a mere two months later, and right down the street, a big FOR SALE sign appeared in Tangle Gallery. I was shocked but even more so when, the next day, the word SOLD was splashed across the sign. I was not happy. Alison had framed every bit of ART — and a lot of stuff that even I wouldn’t consider art — since I moved here 19 years ago. She did it with style, expertise and a consideration of my extreme budget — and she always remembered my name. My neighborhood was changing.
But the biggest shock, and the one that has been the hardest for me to accept, plunked down on my head two days ago when Meriya, my good friend and chicken-soup-purveyer, told me she was selling the Tik Talk Cafe. I wanted to cry — and still do, actually. I felt like I was being abandoned. I’ve spent so much time in this cafe during the past seven years. This is where I wrote almost every word of Mediterranean Journey and ninety percent of all the blogs, like this one, sitting at the same table, behind the coat rack and right inside the front doors. I’m filled to the brim with nostalgia and she hasn’t even sold the place yet. It’s very selfish of me, I know. I couldn’t help feeling even sorrier for myself because I wanted to have the launch of Mediterranean Journey right here where it was created. Oh well. But you know, it’s all good. After all, Meriya has been here for seven years and, as everyone knows — even Marilyn Monroe — after seven years everyone starts to itch for a change.
That means me too. Maybe I’ll come back here and meet the new owners but sit at a different table. Or, I’ll go next door, where a new gluten-free bakery has just opened up or maybe two-doors down where a fancier bakery is specializing in the cake and sweets department. I could even venture further afield down College or Harbord or Spadina, or even to a new neighborhood completely! And, maybe, there, I could find a new place to write different words about different stuff.