Living in sin

[gallery ids="3275,3274,3273,3271,3272,3276"] Way back when, in our hip, pre-children, pre-homeowning, student days, Rachel and I shared an office in our apartment just off Queen West in Toronto.

(Already, I have to digress: our landlord was the now-defunct Toronto Housing Corporation, which at the time owned several properties throughout the city, which it managed in an entirely corrupt, Kafkaesque manner. We got the place not because we filled out a form and our names came up in some kind of orderly, fair lottery, but because we lived next door to the previous tenant and we knew she was leaving and the whacked people at the THC — apt acronym, that  — were happy not to have to do extra paperwork and just handed the place over. It was rumoured that the previous tenant — a lovely woman — had been a (cough) former mayor’s (cough) mistress for many years and that she lived rent-free. Other neighbours used to describe the black limousine that would pull up in front and discharge the mayor, who would disappear into our apartment for a couple hours at a time.)

(TORONTO! What's with all the mayors with secret lives?)

Anyway: back in our hip, pre-children, pre-homeowning student days, Rachel and I shared an office in our notorious, den-of-iniquity, checkered-history apartment just off Queen West in Toronto.

It was a two-bedroom place. We slept in the smaller bedroom, and worked in larger of the two. It was quite a lovely arrangement. There was something rather soothing about working in tandem, each of us at our own desk, humming along on our various projects in our own computers. At its best, the set-up pushed us to keep at our work, not to break the spell of more or less steady concentration with idle chatter or Facebook. (In any case, Facebook didn't exist — which is good, because it would've been incredibly slow on a dial-up connection.) Occasionally, we’d break the silence to confirm grammar points or to bounce around ideas about opening lines or hypotheses.

And then, we moved up here, and bought this house, and we got our own offices. And while this has mostly been a good thing, we have also occasionally missed each other’s company, especially during the stretches of time where one or both of us is working on a longer-term project — you know, the kind that requires you to sit at your desk for hours and days on end even when you don't really feel like it, which is much of the time. That kind of work can get isolating (with teeny, tiny amounts of euphoria thrown into the mix, just to make sure you don't give up entirely). Having another body there, working alongside you in companionable silence, can make a difference.

And so yesterday we decided to create an extra workstation in my office. I hadn't imagined how there could be any room for it, but it turns out that an extra desktop fits quite nicely in the room’s southeast corner once we moved some plants out of the way. My filing cabinet and my copy of the Riverside Shakespeare are now holding up a corner Rachel's new desk, and we will experiment with sharing a workspace at least part of the time. Even if she isn't in here that often, I'm already realizing just how useful a second desktop can be — last night, I used it to move forward on a sewing project (which I have since carefully tidied away so that the space is still there for Rachel).

I love this about functional spaces — how, with a bit of imagination and repurposing and rearranging we can make something from nothing, or, rather, a workstation from an old IKEA tabletop and a filing cabinet and a book that's been one of the most useful I've ever owned, and not just as a desk prop. I imagine at some point I'll have to refer to my Riverside Shakespeare again, and then we will have to hold up the desktop with a phone book or something. But for now, it's me and my girl and Will again, and maybe something like poetry will emerge from it all.