The day came to say goodbye. We left the old house pared back to it’s bones; a series of bare and naked rooms. Quiet. Still. Footsteps echoed as I wandered through the hollow space that was once our home, taking photographs to capture the ‘before’, preserving it for posterity. As the morning light streamed though the mossy roof panes of the old conservatory I felt warm; buoyed with gentle hope and optimism for the future. I closed the door and walked thirty doors north, the bright red removal van trundling along the road beside me. We arrived in tandem at our new abode, barely a time lapse between packing and unpacking; then began the task of squeezing our possessions into every spare inch of available space.
Our temporary home has a lovely ambiance. Lots of natural light, clean neutrally decorated walls, a power shower with a never ending supply of hot water. Soft beige carpets; immaculately clean. I’d forgotten how such simple things can make a big difference. After two years of living with flowery wallpaper and navy blue carpets the excitement I felt at having a cream backdrop for my possessions was immense. As we hung pictures and filled shelves, a vase of anemones; a gift from my mother, lifted my spirits at times when the unpacking seemed unrelenting, like cheerful flags waving through the chaos; they spurred on my desire to paint a beautiful picture on the clean canvas we’d been given.
Husband and I decided to sleep in the converted loft. After the rattling windows and sub zero temperatures at Faulty Towers, I hoped it would be warm, and it was. I awoke our first morning with a smile on my face. I hadn’t even needed a blanket on top of the duvet, or had to lie shivering as I breastfed EB at 2.30am. Bliss.
It became evident that our de-cluttering efforts had been far too tame; that still we have much to do. Even so, a lot of our things are likely to remain bubble wrapped for the next year. The storage space, from the roof eaves to the small under croft, has been crammed with brown cardboard boxes, packed together as tightly as the squares on a Rubik cube. Getting them all out again to sort through them is a task I can’t face at the moment, so for now they will stay where they are and we will focus life around the essentials.
On our journey from old house to new, a few things have made it out of the recesses of dark cupboards and enjoyed a renaissance. Music being one of them. As I sorted through box upon box of old CD’s, 4 different generations of ipod and an unused ipod dock, I wondered when and why I’d stopped listening to music. Once moved, I resolved that I would recharge the ipod battery and let the melodies play once more.
I can remember dancing around the kitchen with Pip when he was a baby; at the house we owned before Faulty Towers. In his babyhood, he and I regularly grooved to Marlena Shaw - California Soul. It was our song. He loved nothing more than being jigged around in Mummy’s arms to the ‘cheesy tunes’ playlist on my ipod.
But then, at some point, the music stopped.
These last few weeks I’ve wondered why. Possibly we had nothing to play it on, the old ipod dock died, it was years before I bought a new one, and even then it lay unopened in it’s box. Motherhood overtook me; Ladyhawk was swapped for lullabies and concerns that a little voice wouldn’t be audible from the cot took precedence. Other interests; writing, came to the fore and occupied precious moments of ‘down time’. Singularly focussed, I need silence to concentrate when I read or write.
Unconsciously I allowed my music collection to be frozen in time. The gaps on my ipod show the missing years. I wonder, am I the only person in the UK not to own an Adele album?
On our second night in our temporary house I put the ipod in the dock and cranked up the music. Bands and songs evoked memories of time gone by. Good memories, happy times. A little wine helped me open my vocal chords and shimmy across the smooth wood of the kitchen floor. Darkness meant that the french doors became mirror like and casting the odd sly eye at my reflection, I threw my shapes, dancing and singing like a woman who thinks she’s still in her twenties (but isn’t). Husband, mid sort out, was waltzed round the kitchen before making a hasty escape. Then he returned, and observed; "This is like the old you".
I knew what he meant.
The uplifting beat of old school disco had found a little bit of the carefree old me. I hadn’t even known she was missing, but perhaps she was, smothered in a sea of muslin squares, lost in grown up-ness and the daunting task of being responsible for someone else.
These things take time to get used to, but maybe I’m there now, or have just finally relaxed; having two children makes having one seem easy.
This weekend I showed Pip some moves. The moonwalk and ‘Michael Jack’ are his new favourite thing. It’s time to update my ipod. The kitchen here might be small but it's definitely good for dancing in.