“When I moved from Ottawa to Toronto [in 1998] I had two bags of clothes, some books and a [10-year old] radio. Four or five years later, when I moved [back] I had two bags of clothes, a few more books, a 486 HP computer and the same radio. This, right here, is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place…”
‘The 52 Places I Can Remember Calling Home; October 31, 2007 , Me.
Diane and I will begin living together in October. The main difference in my life between now and four months from now… noise and responsibility. The two things I hate most in life: noise and responsibility.
It’s something we’ve been discussing, occasionally, over the past year… she asked last year and I’ve been putting it off.
The problem, for me, has always been money. I asked my ODSP worker last year what would happen if I moved in with my girlfriend and, through his thick, regional French accent, all I heard was “…you’re boned. Half your cheque is taken away, then we tie raw meat to your genitals and release the half-starved rats.”
I finally went back a few weeks ago and had someone at the ODSP office explain the process to me, very slowly and using diagrams. On a bureaucratic level it still makes no sense to me, but I understand the process better now.
Because bureaucracy is inherently evil, if (when) I move in with my girlfriend, the government will take $0.50 off my monthly cheque for every $1 she makes, net.
Does that make sense? Not to me. Why am I being punished for living with my girlfriend, and why is she being punished for living with me?
If we don’t live together, I receive $1,036 through my disability pension.
If we do live together, because she makes minimum wage, I’ll only receive $600 (+/-).
That means, either she’ll be paying my rent every month, or buying all the groceries. Either way, I’m a burden on my minimum wage income girlfriend.
But the Ontario government would be paying my $1,036 if we were never to live together. So the incentive, financially, is to not live together. In which case, the government pays me $1,036.
Does that make sense? That they’d create a system where it makes more financial sense for us to live separately?
They used to have the same system for two people on ODSP who moved in together — in that case both their cheques would be cut and, basically, the two people would receive one cheque. But, either last year or the year before, they stopped doing that.
So now, two disabled people can live together and receive two full incomes.
But, because my girlfriend works in a factory for minimum wage, we can’t.
However… from the minute we’re living together the ODSP system will consider us to be ‘common law’. Which means… from day one she, and the two boys, will be covered under my dental plan, under my drug plan and all of the other ‘perks’ of being disabled in Ontario.
Like a pair of free eyeglasses every two years.
We’ve already made appointments with the dentist for Diane and the boys. Diane needs a root canal done, which would cost $1,200 under her current ‘too poor to have any health insurance’ plan. Right now she’s treating it with Advil and antibiotics. But, with the two of us living together, she’ll be able to go to the dentist four times a year, and have all the fillings she desires — you get a filling, you get a filling, everybody gets a filling!
We’re pretty sure her oldest son is going to need braces. His huge front teeth are coming in, and they look crooked to me. So, living together, we can get the work done.
There are also little weird bonuses that we’d get. Like ODSP will give Diane $100 for having a minimum wage job (!?).
Basically, with the money taken off, and the bonuses applied, I’ll be receiving $860 (+/- but mostly -).
So, once I had all of that explained to me, it just made sense. So I asked Diane if it’s what she wanted, she said yes, and I gave my notice to my landlord last week.
I’ve never lived with a partner… roommates, yes — alcoholic ones, one that huffed aerosols, one that waved a carving knife in my face — but I’ve never asked a woman I was dating to move in with me.
This will be my 53rd address. It’s a nice little place, there are two full-sized bedrooms, then a little half-sized one that I’ll be using as an office. There’s a full, mostly finished basement, half of which is set up for the kids as a play area. The rest is for storage and laundry. There’s also a secluded backyard that turns into a thicket of trees.
The only condition I laid out was that Diane’s relationship with her oldest son had to improve. I actually made that a condition a few months ago, and they are getting along better.
Diane’s a great mother, but she has some behaviours she learned while being abused by her parents. She yells, but when I tell her she’s yelling, she automatically stops yelling and says “I’m not yelling”. To her it’s ‘talking loudly’. And she’s right, she’s not ‘yelling’ yelling, but her ‘talking loudly’ is aggressive and angry. Her father does the same thing… he yells, all the fucking time. But when I called him on it, he dropped it and said “I’m not yelling”.
She also gets aggressive when she’s pissed at her oldest son. Like, she’ll stand right in front of him while she’s telling him “it’s not nice” to do whatever. To a tiny 6-year old that’s like having God standing there, telling you there’s no Heaven for you.
But I explained all of that to her. And she has gotten better. Much better.
I am apprehensive about this, mostly because I’ve got a great apartment right now — the windows are falling out, there’s no insulation and the toilet runs constantly, but it’s cheaper than dirt, and I can see mountains and a river and trees and rooftops from my balcony. I can also kick everyone out on a whim and have an entire, quiet, apartment to myself for as long as I want.
Having never lived with a partner before, I’m assuming I won’t be allowed to that.
Plus, I’ve lived here for almost eight years. Before living here, the average time I’d ever lived anywhere was less than six months.
…shit just got real, y’all.