Home is Where the Heart is: Growing up in Mississauga
Written by Loki Candelma
Growing up, I was never critical about the size or the quality of my home. It is a semi-detached townhome in a somewhat private area; there are wooden fences that surround our front lawns and we have underground parking that is only accessible by a special key. By this description, it sounds lavish, but the population is mostly lower to middle class. The outside of the houses have a grey dimpled concrete finish, while the upper-leveled units have their balconies accented with dark brown wood.
This exterior design in addition to the layout of the neighbourhood that has the inner units face one another, provides the illusion of a prison courtyard. I’ve lived in this same townhome my entire life. Not distinguishable from the other units, our front yard is far too small to fashion a makeshift patio.
The townhomes are nestled next to a fairly busy road, but because the houses face one another, the sound of traffic is not really a concern for any of the residents, unless they are living on one of the houses that face Dundas. Even then, however, they have built a tall concrete wall that furthers the division between our neighbourhood and the rest of the public. I would like to think it is situated in the middle of Mississauga; a bus ride away from the Kipling subway station.
I used to share a room with my brother, because my cousin was living in the other room, and my parents shared the master bedroom. It wasn’t until tenth grade where my cousin finally moved out and I could have a room to myself. Most of my friends lived relatively close by and shared similar living conditions, so I thought most of my classmates shared this experience with me. It wasn’t until university, however, when I began learning more about socioeconomic status, and befriended more people among differing social classes, where I truly understood the division between people of different social statuses.
My house is small, with walls that are seemingly made of paper. From my room upstairs, I can clearly hear the conversations my brother has over his Xbox headset in the room next door. On Saturday mornings, before I ready for work, I rise to the sound of my mother venting about work to my father in the kitchen. To me, my house fulfills my necessities. I come here to sleep, and sometimes to eat. The only space for me to complete my homework is on the kitchen table; my room does not have space for a desk, and I like to keep my place of rest separate from my source of stress, so writing on my bed is out of the question. The only time I find myself being productive is after midnight, once everybody has gone to bed, and I am left alone to stew in my creativity. But other than this, I am rarely at home. I have long days at school, and longer days at work, and if I need to do homework during the day, I visit one of my favourite coffee shops.
I’ve tried to shape my room into my own mini sanctuary- with the walls painted a bright seafoam green, polaroid pictures strung over my bed, and collages collected from fashion magazines that inspire me are plastered over the doors of my closet. If I am ever at home long enough, I am typically cooped up in my room, attempting to decompress. But this rarely happens because my brother is almost always in his room next to mine, loudly playing video games. Sometimes this becomes a source of friction, but I understand that there are few alternatives, seeing as our living situation allows for limited privacy.
I have learned that many (if not, most) of my friends live in suburban neighbourhoods, with their own backyards, and their own workspaces. And most of my friends do not have a father who sleeps during the day, and works during the night, which permanently altered my behaviour. I am constantly mindful of the noise I create- from the volume of my voice to the movement of my body. Between my father’s work schedule, and the little space in my home, this has also prevented me from having friends visit- very few have entered the inside. This, in combination with my inherently private personality, has isolated my friends from my home life. In high school especially, there seemed to be a large division between the upper class, upper middle class and the other students. Until I began to thoroughly study inequality, I never realized the association between their material items and status. Their parents paid for their sports clubs, school trips, and expensive clothes. Together, they lived in similar suburban neighbourhoods, and their collective like-mindedness solidified their elite status in my school’s social hierarchy.
My house does not make me wistful for a bigger house, it is not the home to my warmest memories, but it has taught me a lot about socioeconomic status. My parents are the hardest working people I know, and I have been fortunate enough to adopt their work ethics (perhaps even more so), and they have always provided what I needed. I have never been resentful about having to work so much to pay for my own expenses- including school. There is a roof over my head whenever I need one, and a warm bed that awaits after my long days, which is all I really need.
Loki is in her fourth year, studying Criminology, Sociology, and Women and Gender Studies at UTM. She has a penchant for social justice, and art (all platforms). When she’s not at school, she’s at work, or she’s volunteering for the school’s Sexual Education Centre. In the very little time that she has for herself, she enjoys seeing her friends over coffee, and finding new places to discover in Toronto.