The Contradiction of Apartment

by Jinryu

I’m in Ontario at the moment, in my sister’s apartment.  It’s a small place, a bit smaller than the place I had in Korea.  My parents are staying in her bed, she’s sleeping on the couch, and I spent the night on the floor.

It’s funny how it took so many years to get to this point.  Back in Montreal, we own a house: each of us has a room.  Not only do I have my own bedroom, but I also spend a fair amount of my time in the basement, the living room, the kitchen or the garage, doing the things that I do.  There’s a lot of space.  Yet, I can’t say that I’d prefer that over this– all of us, practicially living in one room.  It reminds me of the way things were a long time ago when we all lived in my grandparents’ house, one big happy family.

We’ve been in Ontario for two days now and I hate to sound like some reminiscing sentimentalist, but the fact is this is nice.  I think it has a lot to do with my sister.  In the grand scheme of family affairs, I might have been the peacekeeper and the mediator, but she’s been the hope of this family.  When she’s around, there’s energy in the family that just isn’t there when she’s not.  My parents are always in a better mood when she’s around.  We manage to joke around a lot more.  The arguments are fewer and further apart.

In this small apartment, I feel that we’re being more of a family than we’ve been in a long time in our home, with everything that we’ve accumulated over the years.

And I think this highlights perfectly all this stuff about the recession affecting all our lives.  I suppose we’re in a better position than many, in that everyone in my family still has a job, even if it might be part time– but my point is, we’re living in a space about a quarter of what we normally live in.  We don’t have the Xbox, the DVD collection, the guitars, the piano, the garden, the huge dining room full of expensive china, the garage full of tools, the matching sets of furniture to make our lives seem more rustically Canadian.  No.  None of it.  Hell, the bookshelves in my sister’s apartment are made of cinderblocks and planks of wood.

We’ve only got eachother.  And you know what, it ain’t that bad.

I think that we’re getting along really well this time around because, in a sense, this is a vacation for my family.  With all that stuff with my grandfather and the extended family, my dad, mom and I hadn’t had a dinner together in almost three weeks where at some point we didn’t start beefing for a good amount of time about the situation.  But now that we’re out here visiting my sister, I guess they don’t want to ruin the time we have together, since, come Sunday, we’ll be heading back to Montreal.