Today is my thirty-sixth birthday and I am moving four-hundred-and-one miles to a new house in a new country, to Sudbury (in Suffolk), the hometown of my English artist girlfriend.
Antonia and I have decided not to live together and she thinks this makes us like Frida Kahlo and Diego:
I said: ‘You can be the one with the monobrow then.’
To this she replied: ‘You’ve obviously never seen a picture of Diego Rivera – he looks like a cross between a pit bull and a pig.’
Later, she chased me around the bedroom whilst brandishing a pair of slanted tweezers, and when she caught me and pinned me down I got my revenge by accidentally farting in her lap. This, of course, is just a typical day in the life of our three-and-a-half-year-old relationship. The teasing, the laughter, the intimacy that comes from allowing another person to know you bottom burps and all – that’s what we call ‘Bean Love’. Of course, usually it’s me accosting her with the tweezers.
By the time this blog goes out to the world I shall hopefully – weather, traffic and pee-and-tea stops dependant – be crossing the threshold of my new abode. However, there is always the chance that Antonia’s father (who is normally a very reasonable and laid back individual) will maim or murder one or both of us en route, or perhaps just abandon us outside a random motorway service station with our cardboard Costa Coffee sippy cups, our pre-packed vegan sandwiches, and (if we’re lucky) a big yellow polysterene thumb to attract a lift from a friendly driver-by…
It took me nearly two months to plan and pack for this journey. This was partly due to my constant petit mal seizures and my memory problems which caused me to misplace objects every few minutes or forget that I’d already boxed them; and partly because I made the decision to sell, gift and recycle about seventy-five percent of my possessions. (Antonia – who is as far as I’m concerned is a DIY genius – very cleverly upcycled the writing desk she bought me three years ago as a birthday gift into an over-the-bed sliding table so that it would fit into my gorgeous but miniscule new apartment.)
It wasn’t easy letting go of my old life though, and over the last few weeks I’ve felt like a human conduit exorcising a myriad of demons and angels alike: I’m leaving behind family, and friends I’ve known for over a decade; over a hundred fairly decent paperback novels (and a few dreadful ones), plus a really rewarding job as a writer-in-residence at the local young offender’s instituation.
But the time is right for me to move on.
I have lived in six houses to date – and aside from a ten month hiatus sometime around the millenium when my family moved five and a half miles along the road to Erskine, all of those houses have been in sleepy Renfrew. I’m hoping now that my itchy feet and my desire to experience new parts of the globe will lead me to lucky number seven.
I suppose the Achilles’ heel in this whole plan is that I am good at abandoning things at the eleventh hour, especially creative projects, and promises I’ve made to myself; I came close to leaving once before when I almost went to Aberystwyth to do a creative writing phd; and only last week I began having second thoughts about this whole going-to-England adventure after discovering that my new street hadn’t been hooked up yet with fibre optic broadband. Pretty ridiculous, I know.
Antonia says it’s all self-sabotage. She says it’s like that time a few weeks ago when I went indoor climbing with her and our friend Amanda: I got seventy-five percent of the way up the wall and then suddenly aborted because I couldn’t figure out how to reach the next hand hold.
And she’s absolutely right.
My new house is conveniently placed on a main street near a sports centre, a library, and a coffee shop that sells tasty egg-and-dairy-free cherry scones. What more could a budding novelist want? It is also diagonally above Caffe Nero’s where I can totally imagine myself getting my morning mango and orange cooler fix whilst people-watching behind a pair of oversized dark glasses and my laptop…
All that besides, the deposit on the new pad is paid, as is the insurance premium; and I’ve signed up with EE for a year of unlimited internet access and given official notice on my old flat… Whatever happens now whether it’s embracing homelessness or life in Suffolk, or crawling back to my old box room at my parents’ house, my life is about to radically change…