Are we nearly there yet?

Standard

‘Are we nearly there yet?’ is that annoying question all children like to throw at their parents on any journey. Best timed 30 minutes into a several hour journey and then repeated at 5 minute intervals until ceasing abruptly when actually close to the final destination and so denying long-suffering parents even the smallest satisfaction of finally being able to answer ‘yes’.

The same question isn’t asked quite as frequently as an adult but I’m pretty sure people are now starting to wonder this about me. Is she nearly there yet or does her journey have no foreseeable end in sight?

I haven’t lived in the same place for more than two years since I was at school. In the last 12 years I have had 13 different addresses in three different countries and four different UK counties. Not only have I absolutely ruined my aunt’s address book but I’ve begun to wonder whether this constantly moving around isn’t purely related to circumstances, as I’ve always tried to convince myself, but is in fact due to some defect in myself where I just can’t stick in one place for long.

Definitely some of the moves have been circumstantial. I well and truly didn’t want to be evicted from our lovely/dingy little basement flat in Blackheath. The eviction wasn’t because we were horrendous tenants but because our landlord had outstanding debts and legal action had been initiated against him before we even moved in.

The first we realised there was a problem was when the fiancé thought he’d open a letter with the Eversheds logo addressed to ‘The Occupier’. (I had assumed these were from some sort of DIY company and was just another junk-mail flyer offering discounts on a great range of garden sheds but in my defence we did used to get a lot of junk-mail). The notice that we opened advised that we would be evicted in a week.

I called  who were very helpful and advised us how to get a stay of execution on the eviction order. The bearded one filed the paperwork at the local magistrates court and a few days later we presented ourselves before the judge to plead our case. The judge was pretty relaxed and allowed us a bit longer to clear out but this nonetheless resulted in a hurried move from Blackheath, a beautiful area of London, to Chislehurst in Kent, primarily chosen as somewhere we could afford and were allowed the cats.

The move from Chislehurst to Greenwich was sort of circumstantial too in that I hated Chislehurst so spent hours trawling property websites dreaming about the day we wouldn’t be subject to the whimsical world of renting. When I spotted a flat in a London borough I loved, that we could actually afford to buy (with a lot of help from various relatives), moving again made sense.

The moves around Warwickshire as a student were also mostly dictated by circumstance, staying in University accommodation for three years wasn’t an option so the move to a house big enough for eight of us, which we did at least stay in for two academic years, wasn’t really a conscious plan.

After Uni a brief stop-over at my parents in Oxfordshire couldn’t be a permanent solution (they wanted me to pay rent!) so London, where I was working at the time, made sense. But I should probably accept responsibility for the constant relocating around London with different friends and then forcing my way into the bearded-man’s flat and then forcing him to move somewhere I liked more.

Capture d’écran 2015-06-05 à 14.33.39It occurred to me I might have a problem with settling anywhere when I remained eager to keep going even after we moved into our very own flat in Greenwich. I love Greenwich, it is a great little enclave in it’s own right with good markets, beautiful parks, easy access to the river and a vibrant atmosphere, not to mention the convenient access to central London and work. However, I was there for a year before I applied for the Cambodian internship and it was just a few months after returning from Phnom Penh that I thought applying for a job in Geneva was a good idea.

In a 30th birthday card a friend joked that I kept moving further away and my next stop would be somewhere in Africa where post could only be delivered by parrot. It’s that kind of humour  which is tossed around jokingly but may not actually be that funny because it isn’t completely beyond the scope of what’s possible. Not that I’m planning to move to somewhere with parrot postal deliveries (pretty sure my beloved would draw the line at somewhere with lack of internet) but I do find myself thinking what and where is next?

Geneva hasn’t always been the easiest place to live in but now it has started to become normal with a work life balance and weekly routines. This should be, and on some levels is, a good thing, it’s just ‘normal’ sounds decidedly unappealing. 

The same friend who sent the card asked me recently where I thought I’d eventually end up and I couldn’t give a straight answer. I don’t know if my future lies in the UK, Switzerland or some distant realm I haven’t even thought of yet, but there is something about that concept of staying still that terrifies me.

Perhaps it is just the thought of a long determined future without surprises that seems alarming, that idea of reaching a single point and thinking ‘this is it’, although I know that life won’t stand still even if I manage to do this for a while.

I’m sure my aunt is hoping that I’ll stay still long enough at some point to lay down some roots that become so enmeshed with a geographical location that I won’t be obliged to invest in a constant succession of guiltily offered address books. Or perhaps I can just get her some sort of electronic planner that will allow her to keep track of me without making such a mess of things?

One thing I am certain of is that I wont be able to tell you if I’m nearly there yet until I’ve already been there for some time without realising.

Advertisements

The unexpected surprise of an early morning

Standard

“Morning is wonderful. It’s only drawback is that is comes at such an inconvenient time of day.” – Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues

Generally I’m not a morning person and I usually like to start my weekends in a lazy fashion, with a bit of a lie-in and then lounging around over a leisurely breakfast watching some sort of trashy tv (and since Netflix is now available in Switzerland a whole new world of trashy options has been opened up for me – hellooo Gossip Girl!).

But this Sunday I had to come into work for an important meeting, which takes place every six months and always involves at least one day’s work over the weekend. This involves not only getting up earlier than I would usually do on a weekend but actually getting up earlier than I would usually do if I were going to work, which for a non-morning person comes as a bit of a shock.

So last Sunday morning my alarm went off far too early and I bumbled around the flat with bleary-eyes, trying to find my toothbrush (charging in the kitchen) and keys (eventually located in another work bag) so that I could actually get out of the flat, without having to climb out the window, with reasonably fresh breath.

Finally, I was ready to leave, but still in plenty of time despite the minor setbacks, as I got up extra extra early (for me). It’s an important meeting and I didn’t really want to leave anything to chance so I factored in time for the toothbrush tracking, key-locating and about 10 other potential mini-mishaps.

Venturing out of the flat I released my bike from it’s cave* to ride to work in the early morning light.

Riding my bike to work is one of my favourite moments of every working day. There is something incredibly liberating about riding a bike, especially when it comes with the added bonus of the smug awareness that it’ll get me to work faster than the bus.

Actually let me just amend that. There is something incredibly liberating about riding a bike in a bike-friendly city like Geneva, which has on the whole been a positive experience (aside from one minor, albeit expensive, brush in with the law for running a red light see ‘Daring to dare but don’t dare to run a red light’). Cycling in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was liberating but more in the sense of an almost-liberating-myself-from-the-land-of-the-living, dicing-with-death, experience navigating a treacherous path amongst trucks, jeeps and tuk-tuks loaded up with people and produce, who may or may not have been driving on their designated side of the road, if on the road at all. 

But riding to work on a Sunday morning in Geneva, with barely a whisper of traffic, was an entirely pleasurable experience. Whizzing through the almost deserted streets felt kind of magical. There is something rather wonderful in knowing that you are awake and active when most people aren’t. And being up and about, on my way to an important meeting, hours earlier than I would probably even have woken up under more typical Sunday circumstances, felt like something to be proud of in itself. It was an unexpectedly enchanting way to start the day.

When I was studying for my law diploma in London, exams would happen once every three months on a Saturday morning and every time I would experience this same strange sensation. The heart pumping from the adrenaline needed to accomplish an upcoming event (then the exams, Sunday pulling off the meeting without a hitch), added to the buzz of being almost alone in a normally busy town (and not just for the opportunity it afforded to pretend a zombie apocalypse is underway) topped off with the somewhat conceited self-satisfaction of knowing that by the time I’d normally be ready to face the world, I’ll already have achieved something.

I’d like to say that I’ll repeat the experience voluntarily by setting my alarm for 6am on Saturday to go for an early morning run and revive the mystical circumstances. But…But…But I don’t think you can force these things… and I wouldn’t want to disturb the cats…and I would probably do myself some sort of an injury setting off at that time. And any number of other excuses to explain the fact I just don’t want to.

Magical morning experience over mooching about until noon? I’ll take the mooching thanks. I already admitted I wasn’t a morning person.


* I really love that in Geneva cellars/garage/general storage-holes are referred to as caves.