This is a strange time, dominated by thoughts and feelings about houses. Thoughts of buying and selling them, and moving out of and into them. Feelings of sadness and loss, and feelings of excitement and anticipation.
But it is not yet a time of action, and the in-between stage is a worry-filled limbo. I am regularly waking in the night with ‘something else we need to sort out’ popping unbidden into my mind, and shouting to be added to that unwritten, and increasingly overwhelming list of Things We Need To Do. Perhaps it might help if I actually wrote them down? But all my previous experience tells me that when I see the multitude of yet-to-be-accomplished tasks prescribed in undeniable black and white, I will feel even worse. Whilst the ‘list’ remains in abstract pieces in my head, the limitations of my conscious memory and attention span mean that I can only knowingly worry about one or two things at a time.
Of course it is undoubtedly true that my subconscious mind is keeping a running inventory of all the little things that could conspire to freak me out if, by some unfortunate turn of mental breakdown, they all came rushing into sentience at the same moment. But happily, for now at least, my underbrain appears content to simply churn them over, like a tumble drier in crease-guard mode, with the barely audible rumble of distant thunder, while I go about my daily business. And at night, during the quiet, dark hours of light sleep, it will pull one out from the clammy pile, hold it up and wave it about a bit, just to be sure that it doesn’t get forgotten.
Apparently, “Research has shown that moving house is one of the most stressful life events, right up at the top with divorce and bereavement.” If this is true, then we must be in for a double whammy-load of stress over the next few months. Funnily enough, it looks as though the sale of our house in Derby will be completed before the sale of our house in Roquetaillade – which seems odd, given the reputation of the English house-sale process as being frequently beset with delay and obstruction caused by purchase chains and incompetent solicitors. But as part of the deal, we have agreed to an exchange of contracts within four weeks, and from current progress in the proceedings, it seems remotely possible that this may actually come to pass.
I have booked a flight to East Midlands to coincide with the week in which completion should take place if everything goes according to plan, and have taken advantage of Ryanair’s crazy £0.01 flights to Perpignan, to book a series of three possible return flights, so that I can stay in Derby as long as necessary to get everything done. It’s hard booking flights in advance for something with an indeterminate date (and I will face that issue again, when I come to book a trip to coincide with the birth of my daughter’s baby in May).
With one and a half weeks of the agreed time span already passed, my son has yet to find somewhere to move to, and I am spending many hours of each day trawling through the Rightmove rentals site, and harassing him about the absolute necessity of Doing Something NOW, and not tomorrow, or next week, when he might “feel more like doing it”. In my head and in my dreams I have gone through the house, emptying the attic and the shed and the garage, and packing myriad boxes for dispatch to different destinations – some for storage, some for my son, some for my daughter and some for the Tip. But in reality nothing has happened. The garage still houses Simon’s oldest motorbike, three bicycles and two lawnmowers with nowhere to go. The shed still houses incalculable heaps of DIY equipment and boxes of electronic stuff with varying degrees of usefulness. The attic is still home to untold boxes of memories. The bookshelves are still full of books, and the kitchen cupboards are still full of an unsorted array of crockery and utensils belonging variously to me, my daughter, my son and his lodger.
The frustration of not being there, to be able to make a start on the dismal and time-consuming task of sorting and clearing and packing is taking its toll. I find myself having to Wait yet again. And camping once more in this State of Uncertainty, this Siberia of Inaction, I find myself with too much time for reflection. The spaces between the Doing are filling with trickling doubts and worries, with seeping feelings of regret and loss and guilt, oozing in from that dammed Lake of “Are-We-Doing-the-Right-Thing?”
On the plus side, the sale of the house in Derby, and the bringing to a final conclusion of my Previous Life with my children in our family home of the last 21 years, has successfully taken my mind off the worries of how we will move all our stuff and our llamas and chickens from here to the Allier. There is a limit to how much a person can worry about at once. Besides, I can be reasonably confident that our move to the Allier will have a happy ending, because I know that we make our own happiness. Unfortunately, my son, who is about to find himself cast abruptly into the Big Bad World of Independence, has yet to discover that little secret.