Life Sweet Life

I wake this morning to the sound of my iPhone.  The alarm is going off, as it does every weekday at 7am.  I press snooze, my head hits the pillow and I get another nine minutes of lovely sleep, before it goes off again, and I tap my phone to silence it.  After the fourth time of snoozing, I decide it’s time to open my eyes properly and attempt to prepare myself for the task of getting up.

As I reach to unplug my phone, flat on the sheet beside my pillow, Bish stirs next to me, and I stroke his head gently.  Morning B, I say, as I hold my thumb on my phone’s thumbprint identification system, and it unlocks without me having to enter any security password.  I check my emails first, scrolling through the fifteen or so that have arrived since I closed my eyes to sleep.  I read only the four job emails, of which there is nothing of interest, and I delete them straight away.  I close down my emails and go straight to the next app of my morning routine, Facebook.  As I look at my news feed, Facebook informs me that I have MEMORIES TO LOOK BACK ON TODAY, and the first memory I see is from 14 June 2014.  It contains a photo of actress Sarah Connelly in the film, Labyrinth, and was a Facebook post in which I shared what turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts: Homeless Sweet Homeless.

I click on the link and read the post nostalgically and with pride, as I do when I read any of my blog posts.  I am reminded that this post was written two years ago, when I had moved out of a flat in Ealing, but hadn’t yet found a suitable place for me and Bish to move to.  I am reminded that during this time I had stayed with friends and in a B&B.  I am reminded that Bish at the time was in a cattery in Edgeware, and my stuff was in storage in Hangar Lane.  I am reminded that I had dejunked 12 bin bags full of crap to the charity shops, and sold almost all of my furniture to people via Gumtree.  I am reminded of the difficulty I was having in finding something within budget and pet-allowing.  I am reminded that I was encouraged, but resisted, to re-home Bish.  I am reminded that I was able to write a blog that included one of my favourite childhood films.  I am reminded that I have not written a blog in many many months.

I have thought about it, occasionally.  There is certainly a lot to update you on.  But the self-doubt part of me has heard my blog voice in my head, and cringed, and any thoughts I have had of writing it again have dissipated.

Having thought about it all day, I just re-read all my blog posts from 2016, and I am surprised to find there are actually five published this year.  It is so long since I blogged that I have forgotten that I published any at all since the new year started.  I am pleased to see that one of the five is a short story, a piece of fiction I wrote on my commute one day.  This reminds me that I am capable of writing fiction, not just blog posts, and that on rare occasions I have even managed to put it out there for people to read, not just to resign it to a notepad or in the notes pages of my phone.  I am encouraged by what I have read, and it sparks something in me, in my desire to write, to put words on paper, even a virtual page.  Two years after a blog about being homeless, and I am determined to make today the day I start blogging again.

So here it is, a post, as yet, untitled.  So what have I been doing when I’ve been not writing?  Well a lot has changed.  Back in September 2015, I made the decision to move back up north.  You’ll know if you have read previous posts that it was something that had been suggested to me by a friend during my time in London, but for reasons that seem beyond me now, I could not face.  I had clung onto the idea that my future was in London for a long time, but I had to face up to the reality that I was treading water in an expensive, lonely city, and not progressing in any way, shape or form.  I spent five months applying for jobs in the north, but not even being shortlisted for anything dampened my spirits.  I had given myself six months to find something and set myself a deadline of the end of March to leave.  As the middle of February approached and I was faced with two lengthy trips back home at the end of February and the middle of March for family birthdays, and two sets of travel and cattery costs, and I decided enough was enough, and after a few day’s thought, handed my resignation in at work and gave notice on my flat.  My dad had kindly offered me my old room back, and it meant that Bish and I could move back to Lincoln while I saved enough money to move onto Sheffield.

After saying goodbye to the few good friends I had made in London, on 13th March, Bish and I moved back to my childhood home in Lincoln.  The relief of being away from the capital was increased at the sight of fields from my bedroom window, and while I knew Lincoln was only a temporary residence, I knew the move back north was the right thing for me and Bish.

After leaving my job in London, I had intended to find temp work here, but because I was only planning on being here 1-3 months before moving on again, I was told there was very little in the way of short-term temporary work.  However, the agency offered me the opportunity to go back to my old department in the NHS, at a much lower rate of pay.  Reluctantly, in order to save money to move, I took the job.  While I was gutted at having to take a drop in pay yet again, the work was easy, and more importantly, I was surrounded by friends, people I had known and worked with for many years.  I relished my new commute, one that took 25-30 minutes door to door, half of which I was able to walk or ride a bus alongside beautiful fields, instead of my former 60-90 minute London commute where I’d be in busy train carriages or running across the footbridge at Britain’s busiest train station, Clapham Junction.

Bish has settled into life in the north although it hasn’t been easy for him.  Not long after we moved, he spent a day sleeping under the conifers in my dad’s garden, and a few days later, I returned from a weekend away to find him covered in ticks.  While dad and I removed the ones we could see over the next few days, it soon became clear that it would take a specialist.  We took him to a local vets and it turned out he was riddled with them.  After undergoing a multiple trips to the vets, with two lots of sedation and a hell of a lot of tricky tick removal, he is now clear of the little bastards, but it was a very stressful few weeks for all of us.

I’ve been in Lincoln for just over three months now, and in less than three weeks Bish and I will be moving on again.  In order to tell you about our next move, I need to tell you about the biggest change in my life, which happened at the beginning of this year.  Yes, after all those years of searching, I finally met a kind, caring, supportive and absolutely wonderful man who fills my heart with joy.  Online dating finally paid off, and it was worth putting my hand in my pocket, as I met my guy on e-Harmony.  After endless messages, it soon became clear that we were very well matched, and our mutual love of charity shops, board games, books and 80s films, created a foundation for our two creative souls to build a relationship.  Six months later and I am happier than I have ever been, and I know that he was worth waiting for.  So, mine and Bish’s next move is to Derby, where my boyfriend lives, and I can’t wait.  It’s been great staying with my dad, but I’m looking forward to having my independence back, to live with my boyfriend, in a decent size house, not a room, a place where Bish can enjoy the run of, and where he has his own cat flap, out into the garden where he can relax on a summer’s day (and not a conifer in sight!).

Finding love hasn’t made all my problems go away, but having someone by my side who understands depression, and is supportive and there for me at the times when I do fall apart, has made the transitional period so much easier.

So in just over two weeks I’ll make another move, to another new place in which for me to re-invent myself.  I think back to two years ago, when I had no fixed abode, and no idea what the future held.  I still don’t know what the future holds, but I know it contains a loving relationship with someone who thinks the world of me and Bish, and for whom the feeling is mutual (from me and my cat).  And if being homeless taught me nothing else, it showed me that I can cope with what life throws at me, and I can live to tell the tale.

I think it’s true to say you don’t know what is round the corner, and you never know when your life will change.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always for a reason.  And even the bad things can give you inspiration, when you look back upon them and can say: I survived that.

 

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Homeless Sweet Homeless

So I have now been homeless for a week. I am by no means on the streets, staying in a combination of with friends and in B&Bs. But I technically do not have a roof over my head, and certainly do not have a room of my own, in the Virginia Woolf sense of the word. While I move from place to place each night, Bish is residing in a cattery in Edgeware, and my stuff resides in storage in Hangar Lane.

This move has underlined the fact that I have far too much baggage – both literal and emotional. Despite dejunking twelve bin bags full of stuff to the charity shop in the course of the move, I have still managed to fill a 20-foot square storage cage with a load of crap. Once I find a place to move to, and take my stuff out of storage, some careful sorting needs to be done to reduce that amount.

I did manage to sell all my furniture with the exception of the pink ottoman I’ve had since I was little. My sofa went to a young couple who were moving to Brighton to start a new life together. My chest of drawers, bought from the IKEA bargain basement at Wembley last October were delivered to a woman in Ealing. My bed and bedside table went to a couple, one half of which was a totally hot kiwi builder who put a smile on my face when he came to collect it with his friend, only for him to tell me that he did in fact want the bedside table I was selling with the bed, the one his girlfriend had declined, and I had to empty all my unmentionables into a plastic bag as he stood there watching me. I’m still not sure if I was happier to have such a hottie in my bedroom (it’s been a while) or if I’m more hugely embarrassed about the contents of my bedside table being on display to aforementioned hottie…

As I continue my search for places to live, I find myself considering places way over budget (and that was my budget before I reduced it), rooms shared with young Australian guys (I think I’m really too old to be sharing a room with anyone other than a lover) and rooms with single beds (I might as well become a nun). London has an abundance of rooms available, but finding something suitable seems on a par with locating the Loch Ness Monster. I’m contacting many people with cats in the hope they’ll allow another, but most of them won’t.

Advice from loved ones has been to consider rehoming Bish. The desperateness of the situations cries for drastic action, and I am the first to admit that my life would be much easier if I didn’t have him. However, part of me is angry that I have to even consider such a thing. Is it really so impossible to find somewhere to live with a cat? An article in the Independent online from October 2012, with a quote from the Cats Protection that “Since the UK recession, we have received many more requests from people to take in their cats, with owners saying they are losing their jobs, their homes, or moving into rented accommodation,” (read the full article here http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/pets/news/cruel-for-cats-hard-times-for-humans-lead-to-an-epidemic-of-stray-pets-8209886.html.)

I have had Bish for almost 14 years. He outlasted my ex-husband, who was the one who found him for me back in 2000 when I was looking for some feline company shortly after buying my first home at the age of 21. While I do feel like he could have a better home with someone else, my heart wrenches at the thought that he could go somewhere much worse. He is an old boy now, and I can’t bear the thought of him ending up somewhere he is unloved.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. Right now, to me, it feels hopeless. I will be 36 next month, and while it’s not good to wish your life away, I wish it was 40, because maybe then this whole thirty-something crisis would be over, and I would be settled. When I set up this blog in January 2012, the title of 33andlostinlife just seemed so apt. Two and a half years later, and I feel even more lost. I don’t know which direction my life is going, and it just seems to get worse. I have received other advice: to leave London and move up North. But I don’t think that is the answer. Right now I don’t have any answers though, and I can’t trust myself to make the right choices.

I feel like my inner directional compass is skewed. Like Sarah in the film, Labyrinth, who is offered the choice of two doors, one which leads to the Goblin King’s castle and the other to, dumdumduuuuum Certain Death. She is told by the Four Guards that she must solve a riddle in order to proceed, and that two of the guards always tell the truth, and the other two always lie. As she uses her logic to ask a question which will give her the answer to which door she should take to the Goblin King’s castle, she smugly pushes open the door and announces, “I think I’m getting smarter!”. Promptly she falls down a shaft and into another puzzle, her goal seemingly getting further and further away.

So the moral of this blog: no matter how bad things get, they can always get much worse. But as long as you can quote cheesy 80s movies which involve David Bowie in tight leggings, well life can’t be all that bad, can it?

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“Yes, but is it possible to put a cat flap in one of these doors…?”