Little by little, we are settling in. One way of measuring this is administratively. For example, I have opened a bank account. The day before yesterday my Social Insurance Number (SIN?) arrived in the mail – the first mail, incidentally, addressed to me here at 84 Marchmount Road. And yesterday I registered with OHIP – the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. Cover begins at the end of March, but at least I am in the system.

Another way of tracking the process of settling in and settling down is spatial: finding a place to unpack my clothes, organising somewhere to write and work, to sit and think. My office will be in the basement, in the spare bedroom, with a street-level window bringing in light and a view of the street from beneath the porch. The bedroom still needs to be turned around, the bed set against the opposite wall, and a desk set up between the door and the window. But I have purchased the desk, and it will be ready to be picked up and assembled next Thursday. I have purchased a desk lamp too, and a high-end photo printer, and Rob has given me some of the desktop accoutrements necessary for a home office, so I won’t need to purchase everything at once. By the beginning of the second week in January, I should be back to work and good to go.

A third marker of progress is the progress of order against disorder, as Rob steadily works her way through the bathroom and the kitchen, cleaning and reorganising, finding things that have been moved or packed incorrectly, re-establishing a domestic logic. As the house takes shape, so Rob’s sense of home and satisfaction improves.

What I can’t really measure – the question that emerges from shadow into daylight sometimes, then slips away before I can grasp it – is how I feel about all this. Outside the world looks different, certainly – there is snow instead of sunlight, downtown the streets are animated with people and bicycles and humanity in all of its shapes and sizes, a different world in so many respects from the traffic and the sterile, high-walled sidewalks of suburban Johannesburg – but the truth is we carry our worlds inside us, as adults, and so the exterior changes matter less than they might, at least in the short run. Over time, who knows, the effects of all this, the rearrangement of one’s mental architecture, might become more obvious.

So too, I imagine, will the business of work and earning a living, the social dimensions of living in Toronto with Rob and her circle of interesting and varied friends, all come subtly to change my understanding and my perspective.

All this in time. For now we are settling in. One step at a time.