Moving house very suddenly, and I’m consequently feeling many things.
6 years ago, almost, I moved from Scotland to London. I had my partner and my cat, and we had great plans. We did the thing together. We packed, moved, existed together.
That’s not the case any more. When I move soon, it’ll just be my cat.
I’m quite scared, all of a sudden. I’m scared because I’m doing this enormous thing entirely by myself. I wouldn’t normally be doing it by myself, but we’re all locked down at the moment. So it’s just going to be me.
On the other hand, even if we weren’t locked down it would still just be me. I’ve got loads of great friends, many more than I had when I first moved here, but I don’t have a partner. When I first started to thing about moving out, it was as part of a tuple. Now it’s just me, setting out on my own, buying a place by myself. I don’t have a person to lean on. Organising an end of tenancy clean and the move of all my stuff means I almost have to be in two places at the same time. It’s not impossible. It’s just another thing, another little irritation that I wouldn’t have with someone to lean on.
I’m in a curious position, where I’m alone and not alone. I’m talking to friends and family more often. I’m going on very pleasant dates and using the time I save from the lack of commute to do unbearably cute things like mock up a National Theatre ticket for someone special before we watch something on Youtube.
I’m trying to figure out what I’m trying to say here. I think it’s that I thought my life would be somewhere else by now, or that at least it would be with someone else. I think it’s that working on yourself for yourself is all well and good but when a big stressful thing like this comes along you really need a person.
It’s like…it’s like I need someone to witness this. I need someone else to look around at the dead streets and the packing up of my life and the throwing-away of old things and the end of this chapter in my life and nod and say, “Yeah, this is hard. I see you. It sucks.” I know it’s hard. I just want someone else to agree.
I’ve broken down the huge problem of moving house into manageable tasks, and I’ve booked a week off work. I can do these things. I can do anything if I break it down and just do the task in front of me. You can turn the mystery crank forever if you only do it for ten seconds. You can get used to working ten hours a day and your ground state being “Oh god, what now”. I’m also getting used to being remote; to not having to commute for 90m a day; to walking in the fresh air for an hour a day and not having to sacrifice dinner or exercise. I’m enjoying the freedom and the autonomy that comes from distance: without the feeling of someone constantly present and looking over my shoulder, I find myself more motivated and autonomous. I am rediscovering the joys of writing things down and discovering that many people never learned that skill, so reliant were they on body language and vocal tone.
I hope, if nothing else, that what comes from this crisis is a culture that focusses on writing as a genuinely valuable skill and arguing as a last resort.