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  • Writer's pictureDavid Johanns

From Toronto back to Boat Life

I had intended on selling the house. It was kind of a love it or list it situation. I came back to Toronto in April and earnestly began renovations with the intent to sell. Just like putting on the best ball gown to attract the best and most affluent suitors. Funny how all the things you want to fix get done before you sell the house for someone else to enjoy. I hired a jamaican named Kirk who was referred by my cleaning lady. Kirk was an affable guy and also a lesson learned. I confess I went with the lowest quote. I recall the infamous constraint triangle. You can have it fast, good, or cheap: pick two.

Kirk was none of the three. Be wary of guys who say, Yaah Mon, I can do dat. He claimed he could plaster, do electrical, install flooring, bathroom tiles. Any question about doing something and his response was a confident yes. It was to good to be true. And in my haste and budget I hired him. I soon discovered that Kirk could do everything badly and nothing well. He was a jack of all trades and master of none. I would replace Jack of all trades with disaster. of trades. As the work progressed he arrived later and left earlier. It soon became apparent that getting this done within 2 months was not going to happen at the pace he was working. I hired two Mexican guys through a friend of mine in the construction business. They were amazing. Things with Kirk went South. Kirk claimed they were stealing his work from him and I wrongly hired other workers on his contract. Things ended in dramatic fashion. He came barging into the house demanding 5k in cash and swing a level at my head while yelling in his beautiful Jamaican dialect that I was a pussy and he would Fuck me up. Guys that have a loud bark usually have no bite. A Jamaican dialect never sounds threatening. It sounds more like a reggae song. So I strode up to this large 6ft4 incompetent idiot and told him to take his best shot. He backed down as expected. Upon leaving he threatened that his boys would return that night and take care of me. I confess I charged all the exterior security cameras. As anticipated, he never showed up. I could have done without this renovation drama. I managed to get most of the work done. I still have to fix much of his lousy work and continue to find evidence of his incompetence.

In the end I decided to hold off selling the house. It is strange being back in the city after life on the boat. An existence between two very different states of mind. A pull between two worlds. The expectations and pressure of conformity of what is success and the fear of following your dreams and heart. The ability to let go is right in front of your face. I guess the house represents financial security, a lifestyle, a land anchor. It is a place where I have lived the longest having been there for 18 years. I wanted a place to call home my whole life. Something that was truly mine and not rented. Until I owned that home I moved from rental to rental, province to province with obviously little stability. No anchor, nothing to establish roots. When I finally bought that home I cannot have been more excited. To me the kitchen was so beautiful that I almost not dared use it. I did not even move in after closing day thinking that this place was not really mine. As though I did not deserve it. I still recall getting so excited to buy plants for the house. Now my perspective is completely changed as is my mindset. There is also the memories of living there with my son. Perhaps reminders which are associated with PTSD. I lost my son to parental alienation and existed in the family court system for over 15 years. Every place I look at in the house provides a memory of that past. Where he slept in his bedroom, the little alcove where he loved playing hide and seek, the back lane where he learned to ride a park, the park down the street where we kicked around a soccer ball and the pool we always swam in. All of these moments are just one teer away. My heart always cries thinking of these times. So maybe letting go of the house will help me emotionally move forward. Live somewhere that is less inclined to trigger such emotional pain.


If I keep the house then I wish to build a laneway house and make improvements. Which means a loan which means getting on the production hamster wheel. I have to work to make payments. It is not that I do not wish to work. I wish to work at my legacy. My legacy is music and not real estate. I was never comfortable telling people I am a realtor. Easier to speak my truth and say I am a musician. I am blessed that the house has gone up significantly in value over the last 18 years. This equity would free me financially allowing me to purchase a more liveable boat, sail away, create music without the anxiety of worrying about where my next meal is coming from. It would not be a hand to mouth existence. Although I would still be frugal as we are not talking some massive fortune. Just enough to stop talking and start doing. The doing being life on a boat with more living space.

The boat I have now has blessed me in so many ways. It is the gift that keeps on giving. It was a gift from the universe. It has kept me whole through some very dark journeys.


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