The choices I have made and continue to make define borders in and around my life. They're not my only constraints, but past and present me are accountable for them.

I live in a densely populated area of a city with a population of 2.9 million humans. S and I moved here from a smaller, tech-focused city three years ago. Housing costs mean 3 humans and 2 cats occupy about 800 square feet including the balcony, at the edge of affordability for us in our current income/expense situation. The mortgage is scheduled to be paid off when I'm 72 years old. Being close to services, events, culture, transit, and a diverse population along many measures is critical. Expressions of white supremacy are out in the open; expressions of love and mutual respect within and among communities are as well, and they more than balance the evil in this part of the world.

We've come up with some curious logistics with our limited space. We don't have a working shower in the second bathroom because it's full of art. We rent a storage locker in the building and a parking space for our motorcycles, no car because we can hire one from two different car sharing services at need. We have no working stove or oven because storage is more important than the types of food prep we can accomplish among a microwave, toaster oven, instant pot, waffle iron, and air fryer. My work-at-home space through at least the end of December and our bed are in the shared space of our condo, because K having privacy and S having a studio with a door that closes outweigh my own needs and wants.

Until the pandemic is extinguished, I don't get out much. This is a huge change from The Before when I would walk all over, run little errands on a whim, go to the choir practice that is part of my health management, wander around crowded spaces to watch people, hit up the art galleries at least monthly. With health concerns in the household and others' behaviours and available environments outside it, even going downstairs to drop off recycling is a risk that requires masking up and diligent hygiene. Some days I don't break 3000 steps despite exercising at least 30 minutes daily. Exercise is critical, and I'm relying on an app to schedule my workouts for the space, time, energy, and equipment available. I need more biceps work if I'm going to ever do a pullup or chinup on the bar S installed in our kitchen doorway.

I'm somewhat underemployed for my skills. When we moved, I quit my job without another to go to. It was a long 12-13 months with no employment income other than working one long day as a Deputy Returning Officer in the provincial election for about $22-25 per hour. My prior career was in IT, where even a brief period of unemployment without a portfolio of side projects is ill advised. I'd had good prospects, I thought, and I knew my old job and workplace and city were deleterious to my health. Cutting ties even more completely that a former abuser could leverage to get at me was an additional factor. So I'm in the civil service, in an administrative support job I aced the qualifying exams for. I'm on assignment to a special project for 16 months at my substantive pay grade, doing work at a level people getting half again to double my pay are doing alongside me, having a mostly good time though chafing at the lack of physical presence. Maybe the assignment will help my longer term income and my level of engagement. My grandboss knows I don't want to go back to working for my substantive supervisor and we're working on a possible way to use and reward my skills and interests. Meanwhile, my 7.5 hour days tend to run to 8.5 or 9 and I'm both highly stressed and highly engaged. By Thursday I'm exhausted.

I started subscribing to a grocery service two months ago. FoodShare TO delivers a non-negotiable box of "enough fruit and vegetables for 2-4 people for a week" every week, and I get a loaf of locally made sourdough bread for K once a month. It reduces my exposure to grocery stores, especially the produce aisle. My purchase supports food insecure households and local farmers. Yesterday is the first time we got the automated notifications for delivery time: before that, the box was left in the building lobby and it was mostly our overburdened concierge who would let us know it had arrived. There's less fruit than I'd rather, and the vegetables are mostly brassicas and nightshades that S can't eat. I'm eating even more vegetables, K is making soup regularly, and I'm farting more (and have more gas pain) than before. It's good food, and I'm learning new approaches to cooking and eating when I have the energy and executive function to do so.

My garden is four pots on the balcony, each big enough to support one tomato plant. This year I haven't been able to work up the energy and interest to get food plants or seeds for planting while the few, narrow stores providing those goods are open. If we can find the wildflower seeds that friends gave us with their wedding invitation last summer, we'll plant those. It's not like I need more produce, though I'd love fresh strawberries that don't cost $8 a quart in season.

The days blur into each other, the weeks as well. Is it the hundred and twelfth day of March or something? It's summer now, and the sky will start getting bright, the birds singing, a little later each day. I'm in a cage I've chosen, better a housecat than roadkill. May as well sing.

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