Almost one month ago, my boyfriend and I decided to do something we had been thinking about for over a year. We had mulled it over many times, listed the pros and cons and even once started packing and moved a few things onto our little oasis on the water. But we had always, after a few days of bliss, slowly drifted back to our warm, dry loft in the Junction.
One night, tired of the sound of our own voices talking about what it would be like, we knew we had to just do it or simply shut up about it. We had decided, we were finally taking the dive to move onto our 28-foot boat docked in the heart of Toronto. We would in a matter of weeks, with no experience or real knowledge of what we were in for, get rid of 95% of what we owned and move from our 1000 square foot apartment with 10 foot ceilings onto a boat who’s living quarters was about the size of a bathroom and just enough headroom for Nic, my boyfriend to stand upright. It was either going to be the best or the worst idea we had ever had.
If it wasn’t challenging or adventurous enough, we had somehow managed to procrastinate throughout the summer and would now be starting our new life at the beginning of the winter season. We also had exactly two weeks to pack, sell or donate our life’s belongings before our lease was up and needed to act fast to snag a spot in the harbour.
Now, to dispel any misconceptions about our familiarity with boats or our understanding of what exactly it means to live on one: we are not boaters, we do not come from a family of boaters, our friends do not have boats, we’ve never taken a boating class nor have we ever driven or been around boats until two summers ago, which is when we decided on a whim to fulfill a fantasy I always had to own a boat. Our first attempt to drive our boat ended within 2 mins with us almost crashing into what I can only describe as a very wealthy and very scared family trying to have brunch on their yacht. We have since driven our boat about a dozen times this past summer but for about a year were fairly satisfied with just floating about well secured to the dock enjoying a cold one.
Now back to the move.
The next two weeks of our lives were filled with panic and procrastination, tears and surreal moments where we stopped in the middle of the madness, glanced at each other knowingly thinking, “Holy shit, are we really doing this?” Are we really giving up our great apartment in a great neighbourhood surrounded by our great friends to live in a box that will soon be sitting on ice?
I don’t remember the order of things, probably because there wasn’t any, but I’ll try to recall what I will now dub “The big purge” of our lives and our somewhat of a strategy to get through it all.
The big purge:
- Decided only the things most precious or useful to us would survive the purge.
- Realized we had way too many things we thought were useful or precious to us and that we needed to get rid of most of those things as well
- Used the qualifier “Do I want to have this forever and why?” If the answer was because it’s pretty or was on sale or was a gift … it would most likely be tossed.
- We rented the tiniest storage space we could find and made sure we left room to store our motorcycle (without the gas tank of course) and in whatever room was left we kept a few of our forever things.
- For all my life I have been clothes obsessed. We gave away, donated or recycled about 20-25 garbage bags of clothes – my closet now fits in a duffle bag.
- Nic has been a musician his entire life and our very spacious would-be dining room turned music room was filled with gears and gadgets. He can now carry all the gear he owns in one go.
At the end of the madness, we pulled into the parking lot of the harbour trying to recall if we had dropped off the right boxes to Value Village. But even if we hadn’t, there was a strange comfort in knowing there was nothing we could do about it, and it didn’t matter. There was no turning back now. In two trips, the first lugging to the boat some extra bedding and kitchen utensils, then each of us carrying our personal belongings, we had everything we would be using for the next year of our lives – or longer. We unpacked before the night was over and celebrated with what now seems fitting, a sushi dinner.
It’s been a few weeks and although we are still in the process of hooking up our water and bathroom and figuring out how to store food when the fridge is the size of a matchbox, we’re happier than ever and it’s the best decision we ever made.
De-cluttering feels great and being able to transition to a more minimalist lifestyle feels as if a literal weight has been lifted. Because we have limited space anything we choose to buy has to be well thought out and serve a purpose – everything we have, we use. We have also decided to take this opportunity to make our best efforts to only buy sustainable and ethically sourced products – a lifestyle we hope to transition into more fully over the next year or two. And as much as this decision was motivated by the thrill of adventure, it was as much our goal to live life with more intention, more integrity and heck more frugality – and I feel we have definitely taken steps in that direction.
Although I do think we might work exceptionally well in small spaces together, being in such close quarters forces us to spend more quality together, to be more considerate of each other and has made us more inspired to work on our creative projects given fewer distractions. It’s overall done wonders for our relationship and given each of us a sense of rejuvenation on a personal level.
Every morning feels just a little extra special and every night feels a bit more magical when all you hold precious is gently poised between water and skies.