My first week working in an architectural office was stressful: immersion in AutoCAD made me want to tear my hair out, I had to give a presentation about myself to the firm, and on the Thursday I was supposed to meet one of the architects at an address on King Street, but I neglected to put “west” into Google maps, and followed my phone’s directions for half an hour in the wrong direction on transit… not a good impression! I did settle in and become more comfortable with the software and the tasks, and my coworkers were totally adorable, but I can’t say that it felt like I’d found my calling. It’d taken me 15-20 years of being an adult to really feel like I knew what I was doing in the world, but now I was moving into a field where I was starting pretty much from scratch. On many days I felt lost, and on some days I actually started to think I was developmentally disabled.

There were also great days: I wasn’t fast at producing drawings, but once I finished one I was generally pretty pleased with it. And I had lots of opportunities to visit and measure and draw old heritage properties. I also loved living in Toronto, wandering the little neighbourhood villages and ravines, trying out all the cafes and cheap restaurants I could. I even enjoyed the short little commute to work every morning, somehow romanticizing the forced intimacy of the packed subway. Once or twice a week I played chess with my dear old friend Danielle, and I connected with some other friends, past present and future, who happened to be living in Canada’s gravitational centre. BC will always be my home, but I could imagine making a second home in Toronto.

Living inside was pretty good. Having a closet was nice. And a fridge. And my room-mates were pretty nice too. But talking to people it seemed they all expected that I’d be overwhelmed with relief, and it certainly wasn’t like that either. I think it’s hard for people to believe, but van life truly isn’t a hardship, it’s a joy. It takes some work and some creativity and some going through rough patches to learn the routine that works for you, but once you’ve got it down, it truly is home.

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