I've learnt to rather like 'Moving On' and really I do seem to have a tad more than average experience in doing so. I'm now right in the middle of sorting, packing, labelling and consequentially piling up boxes wherever I can find some space in my very small cottage in readiness for Moving Day - Part One - interspersed with the rather more exciting activity of getting the feel of my new home. I have developed a habit of going there and just standing in each room, looking out of the windows, getting the feel of the place - it is growing on me.
Although when you are out at sea and looking for a safe harbour there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for any terra-firma I imagine. Either way this is the only place that offered itself to me and for that I am very grateful.
I'm now busy cleaning and painting - walls mainly (32) plus a few ceilings (8) and lots of cupboards (?), window frames (12) and doors (8) - all requiring quite a few coats between them - plus wonderful though neglected parquet floors.
Please don't get me wrong - I absolutely love doing this - it's simply a matter of timing before moving begins and then the cleaning and tidying up the garden at my little cottage. I may need to outsource that final activity if my back doesn't hold out or is that 'up'? I have been training my back for months for this moment - as it can be a little unpredictable at times.
The most wonderful side of all this activity is that I'll at last have space to paint and to make and to move between the two. Or failing that - storage.
I've had the help of wonderful removers - as in removal company - without which this task would have defeated me. My back is still intact anyway. The weather was wonderful - warm and sunny and if it did rain then it did so at night. I couldn't have asked for more.
The most striking thing about my new place is the deep sense of peace - it is really quiet but it is much more than that. I feel as if I could almost float upon this serenity. It could also I know become a real challenge in long dark winter months.
The place itself is old and somewhat neglected. I can sympathise. I am not neglected but ageing inevitably brings new problems to try to solve. A long period of silence now began. I survived the isolation and even the lack of a car as mine finally refused to start and no garage could find a cure. I imagine it was only a loose wire but it would cost far more than it was worth to spend the time to discover exactly which wire. I am now about to look for a replacement. Something that will happily take on Dartmoor lanes and journeys to the sea. A mobile studio in fact is my ideal. They're hard to come by nowadays.
I can now 'take up my pen' and report that once I stopped moving I seemed to come to a complete standstill - I suppose all the stress that I was suppressing (and there was too much) finally had the chance to start to manifest in all sorts of totally unexpected ways - I won't go into detail but they've surprised me. Some were and still are aspects of Long Covid, according to my doctor but really there's no conclusive proof. Either way I'm doing my best to move on from that, but it seems to be a long, slow and confusing process. I've far less energy and a complete disappearance of my usual joie de vivre - one of the many blessings that I've never taken for granted. So I went to ground and hoped that hibernation and rest would do it's magic - not yet.
I try to make myself go through all the motions in the hope that memory will kick start my love of life but not yet. Sometimes great waves of deep and profound sadness almost overwhelm me - even more so now that the crisis in Ukraine is gathering momentum.
I've always loved my own company - I learnt to as an only child I imagine and yet even then I longed to belong to a different family - my own yet expanded to include an even bigger rambling house with a father who was gentle and thoughtful and reserved and my own mother just as she was but with the addition of many brothers and sisters. I longed for never ending interesting conversations around a very large kitchen table and ad hoc pot luck meals with an Elizabeth David air. I have often wondered if there is a sort of muscle memory locked in the morphic field of our DNA and of the legacy of our ancestors - for good or bad - that we have to continue to work it out on their behalf as well as our own that could then create an added depth of security for the generations to come. These are the kind of thoughts that I ponder when alone as that big kitchen table is lost in metaphorical storage somewhere so no discussions can take place. This can spill over into a deep heart wrenching sense of loneliness of the soul. On the edge of being unbearable.
So finally I've come to London with my daughter to try a change of scene - my first real journey anywhere since lockdown, to see if that would do the trick. Not yet - I've been to some of my old haunts - Chelsea, East Dulwich, Richmond and have wandered around the old Victorian streets of Peckham and through parks and built up housing blocks and so on and I still feel unmotivated. Perhaps it is ageing but I have always determined not to rust away through age and neglect. There's a little demon inside me who has a tendency to feel sorry for itself that can from time to time overwhelm me like a soporific drug and one which I always try to overcome. Recently I've been watching YouTube and three people in particular who are just the kind of people that I would have wished to be sat around that childhood kitchen table - they are Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Richard Schwartz and Gabor Mate. They seem to hit the nail on the head for me. I'm at the beginning of my journey with them.
I've always been able to write from my imagination and have found it to be incredibly revealing and helpful and also entertaining if that's the right description/word to use. So now that I've spent the sunny days out and about I am going to focus on my daughter's garden - a very small affair but has a bit of potential. Weeding, removing builders rubble, cutting back a headstrong Buddleia, scrub off algae from wooden fence panels and add wires for roses etc, remove moss and algae from steps, cut grass and clean paving stones. The garden was neglected when she moved in and I love to do this - I do recognise that I have a certain sort of list of things that I seem to like to do wherever and whenever I can. I think that I could easily expand it to include as yet undiscovered delights. Maybe my joie de vivre lies hidden out there.