I live in an apartment. It’s not particularly attractive (think Soviet-era housing complex); the lobby features fake flower arrangements and brass finishes, the elevators often break down. I don’t have a balcony and I’m certain I’ve paid my lifetime’s share of special assessments.
When I bought the place I had the idea I would “upgrade” to a more spacious, perhaps more stylish pad within a reasonable period of time. Yet the years pass and still here I am; I can’t seem to dislodge myself.
Here’s the thing. I really love my apartment.
From my modest cocoon I have a clear view of our prairie sky, sometimes featuring fireworks, often a peering moon. And the sunsets—amazing! It would be hard to live anywhere else after so many years facing west on a 15th floor. I love how my building is tucked away on a tree-lined street in the middle of downtown. I love the convenience store across the street that sells me newspapers on lazy Saturdays and toilet paper in emergencies.
Living here I never run out of hot water. I can do five loads of laundry all at once. And—I realize I’m lucky here—sometimes when I get too noisy with my karaoke machine my neighbour pops over with beer. I’m never stuck in traffic, even after the year’s first dump of snow.
In my vertical neighbourhood the elevator is our primary mode of transportation. In the elevator I get snapshots of my neighbours’ lives in 30 second intervals. I pet dogs—many of them adorable, many of them way bigger than the condo bylaws supposedly allow. I’m glad they’re here anyway.
In the elevator I get updates on my neighbours’ tomatoes; I’m tantalized by the smell of other people’s pizza being delivered, and decide pizza is exactly what I must have for supper, too. In the elevator I quietly admire the lady—who’s possibly 103 years old—descending with her walker to the gym for her daily workout. I greet kids coming up from the pool, kids going down for school.
My building and the people in it have grown on me so much over the years I would truly hate to leave. Living here gives me the kind of community I want and lets me avoid the kinds of things I don’t want—mowing lawn, or shovelling snow, or worrying about people breaking in through my basement window. I don’t want to have to drive everywhere, and living here, I don’t.
I didn’t realize when I moved in that my building was one of the only child and pet friendly buildings in central Edmonton. Now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Chelsey Jersak is a high rise dweller and urban enthusiast who’d like everyone to be able to choose an urban lifestyle if that’s what they want—including parents and children. She is the founder and principal of Situate, a municipal planning and placemaking firm, and spends the rest of her time sharing the joy of social dance through her dance project, Ludic Zouk.