05 Feb

When Water Rushes In And Life Tilts Sideways

Three weeks ago on a Monday morning, just like this one, I was working from home on my computer. I had just put the finishing touches on a blog post when I started to hear the sound of water running, but in a way that seemed out of the ordinary. I got up from my desk to take a look and saw water coming from the ceiling in the front hallway of our apartment. I ran to the second floor to see what was going on and found my upstairs neighbour with water all over the floor of her place. All caused by a repair gone wrong thanks to our incompetent building maintenance guy.

By the time I ran back to our apartment water was pouring down from the ceiling. I rushed around grabbing buckets to catch the flood, build a dam of towels to block the flow to the rest of the rooms, and hurriedly moved furniture and objects out of the way. There was so much water that I had to empty the heavy buckets into the bath tub multiple times. Water eventually came down in the bathroom, living room and my studio, but I managed to move everything out of harm’s way and nothing was damaged. Thank goodness it was a day I worked from home because otherwise everything would have been ruined.

It was an extremely stressful and panic-filled morning that left me in complete shock, and exhaustion from the huge surge of adrenaline. I was feeling completely alone and overwhelmed, so I posted to FB about what had happened. A few friends reached out and came to lend a hand in moving stuff out of way and provide me with some much-needed emotional support as I dealt with the aftermath.

We’ve been displaced from our home since that fateful Monday as remediation began the same day, and the drying effect made the place uninhabitable. We stayed in a hotel the first night, a friend’s place in Kits the second night, and another friend’s place in Gastown for a few weeks while they are (lucky for us) out of town. Over the past few weeks we’ve had to scramble to find an affordable furnished place to live for a few months, get a storage unit to store most of our stuff, find a moving company on short notice, and then pack and move out of our entire apartment within three days. We also had to do a second small move from Gastown to Yaletown, which turned out to be more stressful than moving out of our apartment.

I’ve had to take time off of my part-time job to deal with everything and also recover from the physical and mental exhaustion. Thank goodness for an understanding employer! Without a studio I no longer have a dedicated space to work on my art, and have had to set aside all the big plans I had for experimenting with block printing, and making large paper cut work. I’m struggling to make a new plan for things to work on and stay motivated over the upcoming months. But I need to make art, no matter what happens, because the process of creation has always been the thing that is key to my happiness.

While we’re not homeless, we are displaced from everything that was familiar and I’ve been struggling to get my head around this sudden unwanted shift. I am borderline depressed and working hard not to fall into a deep dark hole. I think I have cried every single day since the flood, and continue to be completely depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The hardest part has been to listen to thoughtless people say meaningless platitudes or completely stupid things to me about my situation, and have people who I thought were good friends not even get in touch to see how we are doing.

I’ll end this blog post on a positive note by saying there are things I am grateful for in this situation (most of which I won’t get into here). I needed this shift in perspective about my life in Vancouver, and I now get to experience living in a different part of the city for a short while. I had been feeling like I needed to shake things up, so I was practically asking for a dramatic change. I just wish it could have happened in a less challenging and stressful way. I think the Universe doesn’t always give you what you want, but she does give you what you probably need. It’s far too soon to feel reflective about this whole situation, but give me some time and I will get there.

6 comments

  1. Holy crow, Rachel, I’m so sorry you’re going through the stress of all this. I used to work at a restoration company and understand how much of an upheaval it really is in people’s lives. Sending good vibes and virtual hugs to you.

  2. Thanks, Lisa. We’re settled into a comfortable place at the moment, and most of the upheaval is behind us for now (thank goodness). I’m hoping we can get back into our apartment within the original timeframe we were given.

  3. Hi Rachael, I just read this now and am SO very sorry for what had happened. I didn’t realize the scope of all that occurred and how difficult it had been. I was quite sick around that period and missed out on life for a few weeks. Sending you warm hugs, positive vibes and recovery from this whole mess…

  4. Oh Rachael, what an awful thing to have happen: so disruptive and nerve-shattering! I admire you for the positive spin you’re willing to put on this abrupt and incredibly demanding change in your life. I’ve just read the couple of months’ worth of your blog posts that I missed due to lots of time-consuming changes in my own life (pretty much all good, I’m glad to say) and was really sorry to see this event at the top of your post list. It seems especially poor timing because you were on a great roll with your block printing experiments. I’ve toyed with carving and printing with blocks of softoleum in Maiwa workshops and enjoyed the process, but your simple, strong designs are miles better than anything I’ve produced. I love the over-printing particularly. You’re making me itch to try something similar on fabric. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m trying to send you calm and drying thoughts. I hope your life returns to some semblance of order soon.

  5. Thank you, Anne. I haven’t been positive all along about the whole experience but with distance my feelings have changed. We move back to our place at the end of March, and in the meantime I am enjoying exploring a new neighbourhood.

    The day before the flood I had just purchased a few different types of block materials to experiment with. I am looking forward to eventually getting to use them when I have a studio again. I was just making progress when all this happened.

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© Rachael Ashe