There’s a poetic resonance that six-years-ago a journey began, a chapter of my life started with my chronicling my packing to leave a flat, and here, a gauntlet of twists and turns later, a similar act appears to be concluding it. Here, far in time if not in distance, I find myself surrounded by my worldly possessions, the material worth of my life, packed neatly into boxes, sealed, and waiting departure*.
Peering round at these boxes, I find it strange my life fits so easily into such compact spaces. My mind has been less easily arranged; how much simpler this endeavour would be if I could pack my emotions away, secure them with binds tight enough to hold them, at least for a time. Honestly, coming to terms with the transition I will have to make has been one of the most tumultuous things I have ever had to do. A storm in a cup. An endless wave of to-ing and fro-ing. But then, I never have been great with true uncertainty. Too many possibilities weaving through my head, I suppose.
The reality is reaching me, like ice running down my back. Seeing all my life packed away makes the truth of the matter unavoidable. There’s little I’m actually sure of in this new venture, little to hold unto as the earth becomes unsteady beneath my feet. So much is unknown**. It’s a bit like standing on a tall cliff, peering down into a dark well, unable to see how far the ground is from your face, or if there is a ground at all. Bleak and unwelcome as the cliff face may be, it’s certainly feels better to linger than to leap into the possible abyss***. Yet, I know in just a matter of days, I have to jump, straight into the unpredictable mouth of reality.
And thank Goodness for Chris, who has, in this time of storms and trepidation, been a constant reassurance; who has paced forward with all the mastery of the officer he is, and hired vans, and hauled boxes, and uttered a string of reassurance. His patience has been extraordinary.
“Tell me again, please, that it will be alright. That this is the right thing to do. That I will be okay,” I’ll say.
“It’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. This is the right thing. You’re strong.” Again and again he will answer.
“I don’t feel strong,” I’ll admit when the fear is bubbling, a kettle raising to boiling.
“You are. You could have stopped, but you’re soldiering on. Your head is at war with your heart.” He will say.
I’ve spoken about his ability to methodically assess these large undertakings without batting an eye. He compartmentalizes, evaluating what needs to be done, when and how, and who is best to do it^. All I’ve really had to worry too much about is packing; I’ve been trying to avoid contemplating life beyond the actual move, because my head racks up too many ideas about what will happen. But Chris has been thinking analytically on my behalf. Somewhere in his planning he came across the issue of my getting around, and, without prompting, purchased a bike for me^^.
His kindness continues to astound me. It makes me sure about him, if I am sure of nothing else; it makes me trust his words, his intentions and his being enough to keep venturing on. Even when it feels like teeth sinking into my heart, and the idea of leaving is just too much. Even when I can’t trust myself, I at least can trust him. There’s a lot riding on that right now. Where my feet are unsteady, his are firm, and he allows me to lean against him when I stumble. A situation becoming more frequent by the hour.
There were times when I was stowing away clothes and ornaments that I genuinely worried where I would be taking them out again. The hardest part was the books. The hardest part is always the books; the items in my life which hold the most importance, the most memories, the most value. I don’t like them shut away. I don’t like them to be far from me. That must sound strange to those who are not bibliophiles, those who have no love for words and stories. Perhaps, though, those of you who can understand, sympathize with me when I say books have souls, paper ghosts which energize a space. It hurts to condemn them to darkness in boxes – to shut their spirits away, again. They were sad. I could feel it. Without my books I am most assuredly not at home. That’s why I cannot picture releasing them from their prison, because home is a concept mush adrift. Possibly it lies at the bottom of that abyss, but also, possibly it does not.
Home is an odd idea. A house is a place where we take our boxes, if we are lucky and have wealth enough for shelter (a luxury I am aware many suffer without), but a home is more. For everyone, a home is different. I’ve never much settled long enough in one particular abode to gain a true idea of what exactly ‘home’ is. Family? Perhaps, though mine has long since scattered^^^. Personal space? This seems a materialistic idea, but independence and creative expression have always been of value to me. Somewhere to put the books? Yes, but there’s more to it than that; more a place where the books can be free. Where I can too I suppose.
A home is a place where you gain something. Energy, love, safety, closeness, experiences, peace, a sense of self. A home comes with time and feeling; you can move house, but a true home is constructed with the mind. In all the places I have lived in Plymouth, I’ve gained something. Even the homes which broke around me, and the ones I knew would be temporary. I can pack away possessions; I can remove pictures from walls, and wrap glass figures carefully, but I cannot box my emotions, my self, things I may lose. I can’t box a home and take it with me – I must dismantle one to create another.
If I could box all those experiences, all that love and chaos and heart-break, all that closeness, the friends I’ve made and the wisdom gained, the late nights thinking, how many boxes would I have? If I could take them and box them, or pull them into a Pensieve, I wonder just how much there would be sitting before me, how much I may have forgotten^* swirling in pictures before me.
If I could stack every lesson learned the way one stacks plates, how high would the tower reach? If I could witness the pieces of my heart each time it was broken, laid out before me, how long would I be stepping on jagged pieces? If I could paint every kindness granted me, every instant of human love and compassion granted, how large would my gallery be*^?
Packing up my belonging hasn’t been fun. It’s never been an act I have enjoyed, for many reasons. I don’t know if being able to turn the abstracts real and pack them instead would be any more enjoyable, but I’m willing to bet it would be illuminating. I can recall a fair lot of it when the situation calls; a great sum must have lodged itself into my sub-conscious, retained as part of my instincts. Yet, I do ponder the idea of being able to see ten years of my existence physically before me, to see the shape and colour it all takes, to witness the sheer size of it all.
How much space would ten years take? How many boxes?
However, I am left with only the memories which are linked to the items and pictures I am packing away. Those in the books I have collected in my time here, and in the ornaments gifted me for birthdays and Christmases. In the smiling faces frozen in time.
And as I sit here among my belongings, knowing soon they will be somewhere else, contemplating, I’m really not sure how I feel about any of it, only that it all meant something, being here, only that the next place will come to mean something equally as vital.
*This time around at least, I have been much more organised. So prepared am I, this laptop is seated on a box as I write. Twenty-one year old me would be proud of the robust organisation skills I have managed to gain recently.
**As in the unknowable, not the second (third?) generation Pokemon. You know, the ones which looked like letters? …. It might have been third gen. Come to think of it, I think it was spelled without the ‘k’. These ones in any case.
***Gosh, sorry about that metaphor folks – kinds long and forced, but makes my point I feel. I promise, when my life is more settled I’ll think of better similes, like a writer who’s better at this…. Life a leaf on the wind of knowledge…. Oh nevermind.
^He’s a warfare officer, so this stuff is somewhere in his blood now – but I’m told this is Logistics work, which encompasses a different department of the Navy. I think he would be good at it … but don’t tell him I said that. He’s pretty awesome at the navigation thing too.
^^Dubbed Peddle Pony. I’ll explain later.
^^^ The five of us now reside in four different locations, spanning three countries. I may someday calculate the hours and miles undertaken for us all to reach each other in a given year, though I think the number would be most daunting.
^*Though I’m not 100% sure if that’s how a pensieve works – can you record and take memories you don’t remember having??? … Probably not. For the sake of this post, let’s just say you can.
*^Enormous. Gargantuan and marvelous and going on forever.
The last few weeks have been busy. The nice kind of busy mostly; the travelling, catching friends for dinner, hiring wedding people kind of busy. In the space of a week, Chris and I ventured to highest Scotland for a wedding, visited Louth to house hunt and wedding plan, dine with friends and family, and then parted ways for respective Stag and Hen parties (same couple, due to marry next month) which would require me to car pool down to Derby for the weekend, and then finally take the train back home to Plymouth.
Did I mention we’re moving? We’re moving. It’s part of the previous blog about big changes. I meant to write a post. When I tried the words tripped over themselves. The emotions are hard, and turned chaotic on the page. I’m sorry.
Now, however, is the period that always precedes a move, particularly a big one, when life becomes the stressy, bittersweet kind of busy, and requires advanced planning, and phone-calls, and ‘goodbye – keep in touch’ conversations, all of which I’m bad at, particularly the last one.
Chris has a processing time much faster than mine; his ability to simply take information and transform it into practical plans and reasonable motives is astonishing. I’m less geared. I need a scheduled slot to allow for emotional unwinding. Before I move I start to see the ghostly visions of all the important aspects of my life which have happened on a particular chair, in a room, in a cafe, in the city. And I’ve lived in Plymouth for nearly ten years.
Did I mention we’re moving out of Plymouth? We’re moving out of Plymouth.
During my childhood, I became accustomed to picking up and moving on. Being a RAF brat will do that to you; we never set roots for very long. Even as a young child I needed emotional end space. ‘This is where I played with Barbie, goodbye place I played with Barbie’ ‘This is where the Christmas Tree was. Goodbye where the Christmas Tree was’. Somewhere in the back of my head, I have a briefcase filled with snapshots of places. I suppose it was to ensure that I would always be connected to them when they ‘belonged’ to me. Memories are fragile. I’ve lost some. I’ve kept a great deal. I’ve done this for places I have lived for years, and places I have lived for months. I thanked friend’s sofas when I was couch hopping during the bad break up phase. It makes it easier to leave.
Honestly, I’m uncertain as to why. I have always done it, and perhaps I always will.
Now I find myself having to collect these mental Polaroids for an entire city. A city I have shifted through for ten years, longer than I have anywhere, at any other time in my life. The prospect of beginning, and thus seeing through, the negotiations of leaving is daunting and unwanted. I wish for a magic button with which to bypass to the difficulty, and be, through no effort, at the next stage. In a house at our new destination, settled and accepting, building.
Life doesn’t come with magic buttons. They would do us no good in any case. Nothing would be learned or gained from such an easy experience. But the childish, afraid part of me wishes it could all be so simple, practically and emotionally.
The key to the above is that I am afraid.
I. Am. Afraid.
Of moving, of failing to know what to do and when, of not doing enough, of losing who I am in this city, this space, and failing to grow into anything in the new one. I’m afraid of being alone in a small town, just south of nowhere, and becoming lost.
Yes, of course, it’s exciting and an adventure, but adventures are often adventures because they’re unpredictable. And unpredictable is also terrifying. I’m sure Frodo had his reservations about taking the ring to Mt Doom. He wasn’t exactly skipping the whole way there. I am willing to bet, Frodo was wishing for a magic button. And he had Gandalf.
Fortunately, I have Chris who is a wizard in many ways with methodologies and keeping things moving. I even have a ring. Let’s hope orcs aren’t on the way.
‘You can never go home again’
It’s a phrase I’ve heard a few times before, but not something I ever took the time to truly consider. Growing up, I didn’t have a fixed home, so I didn’t really understand. I’m not sure when Plymouth became ‘home’. I’ve lived in many places throughout the city – seven in total – and so no individual spot has been the bases of my life, but the city itself has been the constant. I have come to know it intimately. But even in the decade I have been part of it, the city has been in a state of constant change.
Shops have closed, people have moved to other towns in other counties, and the building which used to house my little studio flat, the place where this very blog began, was demolished to make room for a more modern, taller establishment. My friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about having out-grown one of our old haunts, a shabby, quirky student favorite on the outskirts of the city centre where we once enjoyed pints of tea, greasy cheese based meals and monster size milkshakes. This was before we enjoyed a meal at another of our old favourites, which was redesigned some years ago when new ownership took over. There’s a blog post somewhere in the records where we are drinking tea there.
Everything is in a constant flux, shifting and altering with the stream of time. Nothing can ever be the same for very long. I’ve been present for all these changes, and in a sense I’ve been part of them. The girl who started this blog is not the same girl who writes it now. I got somewhat older, arguably wiser, I moved onward with the city. And now I am tasked with the step of moving away from it, knowing it will continue to bustle on.
The memories I have gathered here will join the box in my mind, they will be as they are, unchangeable, but the places they occurred will continue to be sold, occupied by others, closed, demolished, come under new management or become something else. It is the inevitability of all things, all places at all times. But the saying is right. I can never go home again. It won’t be be there anymore.
So, for a little while, I will be without a home, save my own skin. Then will begin the task of creating a new home. Before all that comes leaving, and endings, and changing of chapters. That’s another popular phrase – it’s not the end of the book, simply the beginning of a new chapter. But the pages have yet to be turned, the content unfolded, as yet unwritten. And soon, Plymouth will be a once upon a time – something I tell my children, show them perhaps on a holiday south to see the sea. ‘This is where I did this,’ I will say, ‘And that happened to me there. This was once a that.’ I’ll draw the Polaroids from the box and share them briefly, looking back on today now, when everything was so uncertain.
So, now commences the ending before the beginning; the final visits to favourite places, fond farewells to companions. Peering back in the rear-view mirror of a life passing out of time into memory.
For now I am simply afraid and excited about the adventure to come.
Plymouth Central Library is relocating. Today will be the last day it opens those particular doors to the public. And as I sit here in the old stacks one last time*, I am filled with deep nostalgic sadness.
We go back, this old building and I. Practically back to my first few months in Plymouth when I was naught more than a disillusioned teenager trying to find my feet in my newly independent world**. Initially, I went with an associate in my University course*** trying to find a reference book for an essay, all copies of which had been checked out of the Uni library for weeks, and thus had a waiting list you could march a parade on. Rumour had it, the public library had a few non-lending editions on their stacks. So, we hopped in her car, and went searching.
I didn’t really start using the Library until my final year of Uni, when I lived almost opposite in my studio flat. During the days of not being able to afford the heating, it became a sanctuary of warmth and study, with a quiet room which saw the creation of a significant portion of my dissertation. After Uni, when I lived in my basement room at the noisy centre of the basement, it then saw the crafting of several creative experiments and ghostwriting projects. There is not a corner of the stacks I haven’t hunkered down in at some point, either hunched over a table scribbling or with my nose in fiction. Over my penniless days, I participated in free film screenings^ and book sales, just grateful these things are open and available for impoverished writers with dreams of greatness^^.
There are many memories of my youthful days locked away among the stacks in that building, and while I know the Library is moving not closing, I feel like I am saying goodbye to an old reliable grandmother.
I understand the relocation. If libraries are to thrive in the modern world, they need to adapt to modern standards. The new building is more central, and completely open-plan, leaving behind the rustic, academic atmosphere which, I suppose, can be intimidating to non-academics who just want a place to read and relax^*. Concerns I had about the move have been waylaid by researching what is to become of the now shell in which the library was housed. The plan is to convert the space into part of the History Centre with support from the Museum next door, with ideas of introducing better heritage resources for the community. And the new library appears to have everything its predecessor had, except in a more open and colourful environment.
The only fear I haven’t managed to quell through understanding is what might happen to the stain-glass window. The window on the main stairwell of the library entryway depicts an array of literary figures in the style similar to what you might find in a cathedral, and I have coveted it and been awed by it since I first laid eyes on it.Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they’ll somehow transport the glass over to the new building, maybe incorporate it into the internal decor, but I hope so, and if not, I shall miss it.
Tonight the lights of the library will go off for the last time. The books will be boxed up and moved, and the stacks will be empty, and the quiet room will suddenly be silent in a way that was never intended. For now, here I sit*^, sadder than I thought I would be, staring round at the old familiar rooms, like sitting in a spot of endless time, where all the past and present mes^^* are together feeling and growing in this place in a single moment.
I walked around one last time, remembering. I sat at the last table in the reference room, where I perched many times poised at the keyboard, and I touched the old wood of the shelves, I took out some books and returned some others, just like all those times all those days ago.
I said goodbye to an old friend.
*I really did pen this upstairs in the study room, but I did so the previous Friday to the date of publication. For the sake of drama you can pretend I’m there on the final day of opening, maybe the last to leave those huge studded front doors, a tear wistfully rolling down my cheek, a bittersweet song of memory playing in the background.
**I was not a pretty picture back then by any means.
***Not Creative Writing at the time. This was the year I was trying to make my parents proud by choosing a career path which wouldn’t land me in a box in a dark alley warming myself over a burning kerosene barrel. My mother was genuinely concerned writing would lead to harder drugs, like following my whimsy or joining a circus. Of course, she meant well, and she is actually pretty proud of me now I think.
^Including The Hobbit and Les Miserables, two films based on books which I have read, both of which I borrowed from that library, and both I was pleased I didn’t spend a ton of money attempting to see at the cinema.
^^That was a very youthful ideal; to be honest I think I would’ve been happy with just getting off the ground.
^*And that is the point of the library. Much as the old timey academic ambiance suits serious study, it goes over a lot better if the environment is welcoming to everyone, especially children, and conducive to finding joy in reading and books.
*^ Again, days before. This is beginning to feel like I might have strange time-travelling abilities, but I suppose if I did this wouldn’t be an issue. If anyone out there knows Dr Who, please feel free to point him to this blog. Tell him to come now. I’ll wait….. No, huh? Worth a shot.
^^* Does ‘me’ have a plural? It was either ‘mes’ or ‘mesai’ and the second sounded too Japanese to be right.
Four years ago, when I first started this blog, I was preparing to move. Back then, I had just finished University and was departing from student accommodation. There was no plan, not really. Several life ideas fluttered in and out of existence, dreams and hopes and desperate chances. Here I stand, now 25-years-old, on the cusp of moving again. The last bits and pieces of my life are all that’s left here now, fragments sitting on empty shelves in an almost empty room. Usually I don’t dig my heels in so hard. I get contemplative sure (let’s face fact, I do that often regardless of situation), but I’ve never found myself sitting in a space, genuinely grieved by the notion of having to say farewell to four walls, a door and a window. Upon departing the studio flat I honestly didn’t cry. There have been tears for this place, and deep, real ones, too.
I turned 22 the day after my leaving, and that’s when I came, through kindness and luck to live in the Buddhist Centre, in a cozy single bedroom on the basement level, underneath a busy cafe kitchen. In all honesty, I took it because I didn’t have many other options. There wasn’t any chance on earth I was moving back in with my parents, not where they were and not being who I was at the time. I didn’t want to leave Plymouth if I could help it, but I only had a part-time gig in retail where I was lucky to get more than eight hours work a week, so I needed somewhere cheap and I needed it fast. Having been coming to the Centre for about a year, I inquired as to available rooms only to be told by the then director that currently they were all taken. A tad defeated, I received a call the next day from the same man saying that if I still needed a place, he’d consulted the other staff and they’d agreed to merge the offices to create an extra room for me. I was warned it wasn’t an ideal living space. Apparently, the reason it had become an office in the first place was because residents had only lasted about a month before having to vacate due to the noise from above. None of this registered. I had given in to pure joy at the news I would actually have somewhere to live. My mind was preoccupied demolishing the cardboard box I had resigned myself to. I accepted without hesitation.
They weren’t lying about the noise; the bedroom is in the middle of a five way sound junction. Between two kitchens, a garden and a hallway which has a natural draw for congregations, I was a little noise battered in my first month. I think they expected me to vacate once I found a better option somewhere, that I had taken the room while I pondered other options. Like I said, until I found a better form of employment I was pretty much stuck. However, I never felt stuck. I became quickly accustomed to the noise. Actually, it was soothing in some regards; I’d been living alone for a year, and the presence of others, the peopleness of the place was reassuring. At first, I just kept myself to myself. I had some bonds with the other residents, but I hadn’t so much joined the fray. My mind was settling into a routine and a lifestyle beyond the security of an educational structure I’d been part of since the age of five. Fortunately, other people can be amazing.
Suddenly, I found myself in a place where I couldn’t escape becoming close to others. I would run into them in hallways and kitchens and the laundry room and conversations would grow more and more friendly. Not only was a welcomed, but I was fixed in as a cog, part of how things worked here. Slowly but surely, they drew me into their world of humour and co-existence, and though I often got it wrong (often!) they were gentle and they were patient, and I got better at being a person comfortable around people. I helped where I could and tried my best, and I think they understood that. Gradually, the room became home and these other beings residing inside became a family, an odd family. Though I’ve seen people come and go in my time here, that never altered; it doesn’t take long to fit into the dynamic. No matter what, I always felt wanted and included in the day to day occurrences of the house. There have been blackouts and floods and midnight fire alarms, and we’ve laughed and cried on shoulders.
At the same time, I had the sanctuary of my bedroom, something that was entirely under my jurisdiction. I worked hard to pay for my living and still keep food in my stomach, something which felt very grown up. I struggled a lot just holding a life down, and relied on unexpected gifts and food appearing in my fridge, but I did it. Eventually, I was able to leave retail and find work I had interest in, and though I still struggled, I did so happily and with less frustration. I hope and I think I have changed a lot in all that’s happened. I’ve gained experiences which have taught me lessons in patience and self-respect, and I’ve been shown incredible kindnesses in many aspects, which I wish to emulate and pass forward whenever I can. I’m not the girl who moved in, and it’s vital to remember that. This place has seen possibly the greatest change in who I am.
I grew up here, in this little corner of a little corner. I feel nothing but gratitude that it was created for me, altered to accommodate me in a time of great need. I didn’t just need a roof over my head, I needed an accepting home, able to allow me to grow emotionally and spiritually, and I got it. Despite its size and faults, I’m so proud to have called this room home. Being here was an adventure. There will be days, much later down the line, come whatever the Universe throws my way, when I will peer back through time and remember this place. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to tell my children about the three years I spent in the wonderful madnesses of this place, of the jobs I had and the relationships I lost during my stay, but how I always had a place to cry and recalculate, to focus and get my bearings, where you could bump into a comforting smile just about anywhere.
There comes a time, always, when we must move forward; such things are part of the great inevitability of being alive. So now I must accept this plot twist, a time when I’m being told it’s time to step out beyond my limits again and stride forward into the unknowns of life. I’ve learned how strong my legs are; being here has shown me that. I’ll place one foot before the other again and again further and further away, because it’s all I can do. Right, left, right, left on and on. But every once in a while, I’ll smile and remember, and I’ll be happy, because for a short time I was here, where I am now, doing everyday things which meant so much more than I realised at the time, and I was safe and living. And I’ll be thankful again, because this was my little corner of the world. Just for a while, this was home.
Goodbye, little corner.
Today, sounds something like this:
I’ve not been here too much of late for many reasons. Such matters are for another blog at another time. I’m here now because I find this page, this fragment of the ether, a place to quietly sit and think and speak. Afterall, it is the reason this page came to originally exist.
Moments. That’s the theme of today’s sudden return to the blogging stage.
Recently I’ve experienced a verity of positive moments, none life changing, but all life enriching. I’m currently on holiday in Switzerland where I have been for Christmas and where I will remain until after New Year. To put it colloquially, I’m having a blast. Again, this is content for a different blog. Unfortunately, I’m not here to divulge and philosophise on the euphoric flight over the mountains or the storybook setting surrounded, even briefly, by snow. Perhaps later.
I want to talk about less coveted moments, the sudden moments that hide, and drag the metaphorical rug from under foot. Inevitable, life changing moments, that seem to block the road and upend us until we’re not sure precisely how to untwist ourselves. They can occur at any time, however unreasonable or unjust. In my case, the news hit during my holiday, out with my family, where I could not scream in outrage or cry. My reaction consisted of sitting in the car as we drove, slowly going numb before realising I should refrain from any reaction due to my current position. For many difficult to explain reasons I am unable to tell my family the news, and I am working hard to not divulge any negative feelings.
For the third time in five years I am forcibly losing my home.
I’m not sure what I will do or where I will go, and while I recognize the opportunity for new beginnings and moving forward, there’s a lot to be said for the grieving period which for me currently consists of private contemplation and trying to untangle several threads of feeling. I’ve talked about states of limbo several times I believe, in many varied contexts, and now I find myself in another one. Away from my ‘home’, unable to confront the issue or those who made the decision, and unable to discuss the options at hand, I am left within my own head reviewing the choices that have been made for me and those I must now make for myself.
And here, to write the words I need to write about a single moment.
In 1471, a chicken in Basel, Switzerland, was judged guilty of laying a brightly colored egg, and it was burned at the stake for witch-craft. So there’s something you doing know before you read this post; let it never be said I’m not educational. I know this because I’ve been researching the country this morning. I can also inform you mowing your front lawn dressed as Elvis is against the law in Switzerland, and Swiss yacht team always perform extremely well in the American Cup, which is cool considering they come from a land locked country. The country speaks four main languages, depending on which border you’re closest to – German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Apparently wherever you reside in Switzerland, you’re never more than ten miles from a lake, but I can’t say that’s a definite. Anyway, I plan to inform my parents of such things shortly, because come December they’re giving up suburban life in South Wales, and immigrating to Switzerland where my Father recently acquired a new job. They’ll be returning for a second time after his interview (which obviously went well), in October to find accommodation, and settle all business arrangements with my Father’s new employers, and then come the final month of the year they’ll be packing up anything small enough to ship, and pretty much abandoning the rest. Hopefully, this will be the new start they’ve dreamed of for a long time – for the unfortunate decade they’ve been in Newport.
My father speaks semi-fluent French, but my mother has been assured most civilians of the country know a good amount of English. When they touch-down in December chances are it’ll be minus thirty-something degrees, and the palm-trees (yes palm trees) will be covered in snow. It’ll be the first Christmas they’ll have spent away from Newport since our holiday trip to Florida in 2004, and it’s never a traditional post-card Christmas in that kind of climate, but my father is not a fan of either cold or snow and I wonder how he’ll cope. In the past five years or so my mother hit “that age” in her life where hot-flushes are a common occurrence, and so is looking forward to a world where the temperature is actually on her side. Maybe that’ll calm her down. Yesterday she had an operation on her feet. She’s doing alright now; a little high on the pain-killers she’s been prescribed, but looking forward to walking with the pain she’d been experiencing in recent years. Luckily, in their new country of residence there are 313 hospitals. There’s bound to be a few podiatrists around with those numbers.
I’m somewhat elated and somewhat saddened my folks are making such a huge leap in such a short time; happy because I love them and have been praying for their salvation, and sad because this puts a distance barrier between us, and I worry that’ll further wedge a space in our already gigantic emotional barrier. I’m worried this is preemptive celebration, and that somehow it’ll fall through again, leaving them in a worse emotional state. I’m proud of my father who achieving a new job, and I’m happy for my mother for escaping back to a rural area after so many unhappy years surrounded by too much industry and too much noise. And for that matter too many people. My hope is that this will be the beginning of a journey for our family, whereby my parents finally receiving what they believe they’d never have again, discovering new places and ideas otherwise lost to them through a time of hard work with little reward.
Switzerland hasn’t been at war since the eighteen-hundreds.
I’m in Newport right now typing this on the world’s most elderly laptop. The poor thing is whirring at me to close a few programmes before I continue lest it can’t control its motherboard-movements and has a little accident. I’ve had a very busy day, and after I finish reciting it for you my dear hypothetical audience, I will be retiring to my bed.
Several important objectives had to be completed today. Aside from moving to my new room, I had to clean the old one, hand the keys back into my landlord, and undertake a four-hour shift at work. Therefore the day began at 6:30 when I dug into a packed-box of kitchen supplies for a bowl so that I could make myself some cereal. At this time I took to the task of clearing away the consoles and the TV, because I didn’t want to go a night without the background noise. Walls brim with echos once all your stuff is stored away. That took longer than expected, and it was the first in a series of events which got me very dusty. Then I cleaned for a few hours so my landlords wouldn’t deduct money from my security deposit to hire a super-professional-cleaning-person to do it for them, but I’m pretty sure they will anyway.
My father and sister helped to track the rest of the boxes down to my new place of residence, including two large containers of books and a cooler filled with non-meat foods. I had to throw away a burger which had been sitting at the back of my freezer forgotten and alone since October. May it go onto burger heaven (would that still be cow heaven?). Subsequently, the freezer was defrosted making my dust-covered hands very wet … so I was now fairly muddy. Of course, I washed my hands, but there was a residue, the kind that only a good shower can really kick. Furniture was repositioned back to its original arrangement, and it felt like I was just moving in again. Sadly, I had to say goodbye.
As stated in a previous post – one of the packing series, I believe- I get attached to things, and these four-walls were close to my heart. I took a moment (a teary, pathetic moment) to have one last look, and then I left.
I was due at work, so I handed my Father the keys to the now old-apartment, and gave him, what I believed to be clear instructions about where to drop them. I drew a very respectable map.
“You just walk out past the Salvation Army building, go up the stairs, and cross through the University on the other side of the road. Cross the road again, and pass the spar, and a few shops up you’ll see the building. Just tell them my name, and the address and hand over the keys” said I, showing him the path on my handmade map.
“But what’s that?” he replied, pointing at a square with SA written in it.
“The Salvation Army building. Just go past it and you’ll see some stairs,” I explained, pointing in the direction of the stairs.
“But according to this, the stairs are over there.”
“No father, follow the line; the entrance to the apartment building is there. You need to turn the corner to see the Sally-Army building, and from there the stairs.”
“But that would be the hotel if I follow the line that way.” he protested.
“No, the hotel is opposite; if you reach a hotel, you’ve gone completely the wrong way.”
“Not according to this.”
“Daddy, granted I’m not a cartographer, but anyone could see that line is turning towards the SA building. I even wrote SA on the square so you wouldn’t get confused.”
“So, I’m not heading towards the hotel, even though the map is telling me to?”
“Salvation Army good, hotel bad.” I reply.
“Why does the line go through that square,” he asks.
“Because, you need to walk through the University to get to the right street. Do you need me to write a big U on the square?”
“You can’t draw maps.”
“Good thing I didn’t do a degree in it. Do you understand where you’re going?”
“I’ll just take the car and use the SatNav.”
and he did.
Having cleaned for hours at home, I was then asked to clean at work also, so I dusted shelves and worried that my Father would get lost on his way to my Landlords and I’d get charged the excess for a late departure. Fortunately, he managed the journey just fine, and on the drive home, I was able to just quietly reflect on the day’s activities. I had one of those unquestionable moments often found in books and films where the character comes to the understanding their circumstances have forever altered. But, I suppose, in many ways in many places, such moments are occuring every minute.
And, now I am here at my parent’s house, because it’s my birthday tomorrow, and I wish to have company for it. I’ll be 22, which feels older than it should.
Thank-you for your readership hypothetical audience. I am now off to bed …
Just kidding Gaian SuWriMos gang, here’s your Gaia promised update, although don’t get too excited.
60,184/100,000 – 31 days to write 39,816 words. Eh … I could still reach my goal. Well done to a certain young Gaian who has managed to complete and extend his word-goal. I’m impressed! May having to move never hinder you, Sir.
And on that note, I really am going to sleep. I’m not sure when I’ll next update.