Stuck in Purge-atory, special edition: it came from the basement

By Laurel Borrowman, Life & Style Editor

From November last year until April, I wrote a column called Stuck in Purge-atory. The goal was for my roommate Emily and I to get rid of one thing from our apartment or lives everyday until the end of time. Evidently, the end of time came and I wrapped up the column. But then, one mild spring day, our six-unit apartment building teamed up to tackle the bowels of the building for the most epic foray into spring cleaning West Broadway has ever seen. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you a very special binge-edition of Purge-atory.

There are two kinds of apartment buildings in Vancouver: new and old. The new ones have laundry machines in each unit, double sinks in the kitchen, electrical outlets in the bathroom, and a door buzzer with an intercom. The old ones have one washer and one dryer for the building, regardless of how many units it has, one huge discoloured sink in the kitchen, extension cords leading to outlets just outside the bathroom, and a buzzer that makes noise in the unit, but the tenant has to walk to the front door and let the visitor in.

I live in the latter with my roommate Emily. The other differentiating factor between new and old apartments is the storage area. New apartments tend to have one, self-contained storage space per unit, isolated from all others. Old apartments often have a common basement-type area where storage units, washing facilities, and discardable shit from tenants-past tend to all congregate in one big, messy, useless pile.

I live in the latter.

I’m not sure how many people have come and gone amongst the six units in our building, but judging by the accumulation of crap in our basement, I’d say half of Vancouver. The basement is about 600 square feet or so, ill-lit, and packed full of treasures like bent bed frames, shitty snowboards, half-empty cans of paint, wooden planks, shelving, totes, and broken bicycles.

Or should I say, was filled with these things.

A month ago, my neighbour stopped by, notifying us that he was spearheading a mission to clean up the basement. He contacted our landlady to arrange garbage disposal and another neighbour with a truck to drop off donations. So we all agreed on a Saturday, committed, and embarked on the spring cleaning of a lifetime.

Although it wasn’t my first choice of ways to spend a Saturday, it was indeed a good bonding experience with my neighbours. We lifted heavy things, drank beers, threw crap into piles, and made the basement look like new. Almost. Plus, how could I pass up just one more opportunity to tally up a bunch of purge-ables? I couldn’t.

At the end, we donated eight bikes, a few sacks of random shit, and made the biggest pile of trash I’ve ever seen. The basement has so much space now that we even have a proper bike rack, built with love by a neighbour, and enough space to hold an emergency dance party if need be.

The pictures say it all.

I’m no longer stuck in purge-atory, but I highly recommend a visit back on occasion.