For this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, the suggestion was “Columns and Vertical Lines” which immediately made me think of home.
We live close to the top of one of these 44 storey towers in which there are almost 1,000 apartments. Most of my life I’ve lived in single-storey homes but after having experienced living like this I’m not sure I’d ever want to go back to the ground.
I like living with so many others. When I get on the elevator to go outside I never know if a friend will be in it. There might be 1-2 kids on it to start and as we descend more of their friends get on until by the time we reach the ground level there’s a big excited group getting ready to go to to the nearby park. And with our city being so diverse you never know what language you might hear among friends as you go up. Maybe it will be Spanish or Tagalog, or perhaps Gujarati, Serbian, or Arabic. Often, no matter if they’re a friend or not you end up in a conversation for the couple of minutes it takes for you to get to the ground floor.
Dogs who live here of course still need to go out. And so it’s not unusual to see one or more on the elevator. Something I’ve noticed about most city dogs is that they’re very used to strangers and often quite interested in them. And so now we have a few new “dog friends” who we are glad to see on the elevator from day to day.
Some things are a little different. Many people are used to just grabbing all of their grocery bags and carrying them in from the car. Or perhaps making a couple trips between the kitchen and the car. Each trip between the ground and home can take 5 minutes each way – or longer if the elevators are busy. So even those with cars need a small grocery cart to carry everything in one trip. This same cart is what we take to the store and shop with. A similar cart is our laundry hamper. When it is filled, I wheel it down the hall and take the elevator down to the second floor. I get it started and then head back up to continue working.
Of course sometimes there are elevator problems. If someone is moving in that takes one of the three elevators and they get busier and the waits get longer. And a couple of times they’ve had to turn off all of the elevators to tie them in to emergency generators (imagine if power goes out while you’re in the elevator!) so when that happens they’ve been off between 11 and 6 in the morning. So I am a bit sad for Daegan who will be coming home from work on Monday after working until midnight. He’ll need to climb the stairs almost to the top to get home. At least this has only happened once before and hopefully after Monday that will be over.
And of course there’s the elephant in the room: fire. I’m not particularly worried in our case as there’s relatively little flammable material in the building – it’s mostly concrete and steel. But they take it seriously so there are, of course alarms. If any smoke detector goes off in any hall, or in the basement parking garage there will be an alarm. The siren goes off startling us all but most of all Peter.
If we’re fast, when we hear the alarm we will run and close the doors to the kitchen. If we’re not fast enough he beats us there, leaps up from the floor and dives behind the stove to hide. Once the “threat” has passed, we pull the bottom drawer of the stove out and he leaves through there. The first time we discovered this we were completely puzzled. We were in the kitchen and clearly he was crying but where was the sound coming from? It took a good 15 minutes to find him.
While you might get up on a step ladder outside to wash your windows, or if you have the fancy new kind that tilt in to be washed you can clean your windows any time you like. As for us, we can clean the inside any time we like. But for the outside to be cleaned, we have to wait for the annual cleaning. Window washers install their lifts on the outside of the building and wash them floor by floor.
There are some unique things about living this high up as well. With a view to the west we can predict the weather pretty well. If a line of storms is coming we can see it for quite some time. (We can see 50-60 km, about 30 miles). Not far to the west is the Pearson International Airport. We can’t see the actual airport but we can watch little dots of light land and take off at night. And if the weather is right, the planes will pass by us once a minute, turn to the north and loop back. More than once I’ve been on planes doing just that and seen our building from the window. Then I get flown back to the airport and have to take about 60-90 minutes to make my way home.
We have an addiction in our family to “House Hunters” type shows, and one of the strange things I see on those shows is this odd need for complete privacy. If other’s windows are visible from their own windows or back yard there are great objections. It’s as if either they feel that people are always looking in others’ apartments – or they’re planning on doing things they don’t want anyone to see. It doesn’t matter in our case. There are a few apartments in our neighbouring building that can see part of our living room if they try but the rest can’t be seen. This means that even if you do care immensely about privacy (we don’t), then you still never need to close the blinds – unless you’re in that brief 5 minute point of every year when someone is actually washing the window you’re in front of.
Right now is a beautiful time of year for living here. The trees are green and not only that, the sun is very far to the north. So when it rises if we look hard we can see the sun come up in the west. But we can always see it reflecting off other buildings to the west of us. Happy morning, everyone.