Evicted is getting a hand-written form under your door, unsurprisingly because your superintendent told you it was coming, but reading the crumpled pages for clues for what your life will be like now. Evicted is cinderblock walls and freight elevators up to a storage unit that is four degree Celsius, we're all shivering in April as we load in box after box after box. Evicted is passing your upstairs neighbour without saying hello, because they get to stay in their home and you're out like last night's pizza box. Evicted is wondering if there was anything you can go, how much fight you can fight, that little brainworm that wonders if this, despite paying your rent on time and never blasting your music and being generally pleasant, is somehow your fault. Evicted is house-hunting in a city with a 1.4% vacancy rate, where the average rent went up by $300 in 2016, where we've applied for three houses and gotten none of them.
Evicted is also walking through your apartment, the apartment that was your son's first home, where he learned to eat and sit up and crawl and say his first words, where your husband would snuggle with a sleeping newborn while he watched horror movies and you slept, where there were dozens of sink baths and the baby's first Halloween, his first Christmas, his birth day and his first birthday, where you laboured in the shower and in the living room and over two interminable nights, where you meet this person who is now in your bloodstream, and evicted is weeping because you have to close the door on those spaces and never see them again.
Evicted is fighting with your husband because we don't know where to go, where to live, how to live, and because there is no union in your wants, there is wanting in your union. Evicted is dancing in your mother-in-law's kitchen, swinging the baby over your head with a smile on your face and then bursting into tears as you spin him low, because while her house is beautiful, it's not your home. Evicted is resenting her beige walls, not because they're beige, but because you don't have any walls of your own.
Evicted is grief, the loss of a home, a house, an address. Evicted is suspending magazine subscriptions and using your in-laws as a mailing address. It's suitcases on the floor, lined up and lids neatly flipped down so things look tidy. It's a milk crate that doubles as a bedside table, and a pile of things—books, cards, an iPod, a jar full of markers—that make you feel safe. Evicted is not knowing where you packed the library books.
Evicted is anger, rage, frustration, hopelessness. It's low morale and wild mood swings. It's spending rent money on things that might make you feel okay, because when you're staying with your in-laws, you don't have to pay rent, so it feels like there's some windfall. Evicted is thinking about ways to pay them back for a month (maybe more, hold your breath) of free lodgings. Evicted is hearing the baby cry in the middle of the night and getting out of bed as fast as you can, because you don't want to disturb everyone's sleep. It's whisper-fighting, it's long silences, it's sleeping on opposite sides of your double mattress. It's undereye bags and eye twitches. It's long walks to get out of the house. It's cooking in someone else's kitchen, keeping everything so clean, so neat, please don't notice we're here, please don't be mad at the space we're taking up.
Evicted is an unexpected rush of shame, of embarrassment. It's another thing in a line of things—sick parents, bad births—that make you wonder, "Is this a bad time, or do I have a bad life?" It's wondering if you have done something to deserve this, and if so, how to reverse it. It's trying to remember if you've stolen stones from scared burial grounds, and if so, which ones. It's thinking about how you will talk to your son about why you had to leave his first home. It's being blessed that people took us—him—in. It's an emotion so loud and unshaped, roaring and buffeting the inside of your head, that it deafens you everything else, joy especially. It is trying to figure out how this story ends, and not having an answer.
Evicted is more than storage units, more than boxes, more than crashing at the in-laws, more than moving. It is fear. It is heartbreak. It is rage.