Why are transitions so painful? Within the past 6-8 months, I had some fresh starts. I went from renting an apartment to owning a home. I began sharing my life with someone. I moved to a new employer. I created this blog. As each new thing began, I didn’t stop to tie things off with my previous life. It was more of a cut-and-run approach leaving a trail of loose ends behind me. Sometimes that is how reality plays out. Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as you hope. There are a lot more grey areas than black and white. This is the place where things are messy.
In my case, my endings,the apartment, the old job, my prior hobbies, as a result of these new beginnings continued around me. Mentally, I quit my job last October, but couldn’t find a new job until June. I moved into our house in December, leaving most of my belongings in my old apartment until July. Life isn’t nearly as neat and tidy as we would like. If you are in one place today and another tomorrow, you can deal with that. It gets a lot more complicated when your right foot is in one place and your left is in another. It’s exhausting trying to care when you just don’t anymore. I settled into complete apathy regarding all of the things that I had ‘moved past.’ Those past reminders sat there waiting to be dealt with. July turned out to be a month of reckoning. I had to deal with every single ending which was painful and difficult. I’m emotionally tapped out, but I’m also a little lighter. Now I can go forward. I can embrace the future with all that I have. This experience is not unique to me. Nor is it particularly awful. Relatively speaking, these are minor challenges that fall under the category of Normal Life Shit. While I was feeling the anxieties and stresses that accompanied the entire experience, I thought about what that could mean for a community.
Cities experience their own periods of change. Leaders in our community push for change all the time. Of course with civic changes, the pace is slower. New developments have to be reviewed and approved. Designs have to be drawn. Funds allocated. And yet there are clear periods of time where there is a momentum shift. Downtown is a prime example. The way my grandparents spoke of it, downtown was a thriving destination. In their time residents would dress up, catch the bus and go downtown. To catch a show, to get a coffee, whatever. As the years went by, circumstances changed. The pendulum swung. Portage and Main became a place for work with most spending their time inside office buildings. Downtown was only a destination in that we drove in, only to drive back out at the end of the day.We built outwards, expanding city limits as we pushed to be away from downtown. Public transport became unfashionable as we found the convenience of strip malls and big box stores. Downtown continued to decline. Slowly as a city we acknowledged that something had to be done. In 2003 Eaton’s was torn down to be replaced by the True North Arena. The momentum shifted. In true Manitoba fashion, our progress has crawled along, slowly, persistently. We built a modern green home for Manitoba Hydro, the building itself reflecting the thought process that an office building doesn’t have to be only for work. Office building by day, beautiful venue for social functions at night.We bridge the gap between today and my grandparent’s time by ripping the guts out of old Exchange District warehouses while honouring their memory by preserving stylish beams and bricks.
Once you achieve a level of distance, it is easier to accept and honour the past with a feeling of nostalgia. With recent history, it’s tempting to erase it because we don’t see it as heritage. It’s a reminder of a previous time including the failures. Currently the Public Safety Building is slated for demolition. This fortress-like building doesn’t fit with our current beginning. It serves as a stark reminder against the lightness and beauty of places like the Manitoba Hydro building. If the PBS building is razed, we are left with one less building in our collection of Brutalist archicture that fits together with the Manitoba Museum and Manitoba Theatre Centre. If we can hang on to the PBS building to honour its memory and repurpose it, we can take the opportunity to share another piece of our past with future generations. In our zeal for a Winnipeg Renaissance, it’s easy to get carried away in the new beginnings and not take a moment to accept that the past is a part of us. We shouldn’t give that away in an attempt to forget.