I’m aware that some of you will be thinking, “Simple Minds, Alistair? But.. you’re not plural!”, however… moving swiftly on…
Yes, I’m alive, and yes, I’m well, give or take the sort of muscle ache which comes with some serious usage of bits of me that had forgotten they are required when doing energetic stuff. After a whopping 4 nights at the Myers residence I landed in Wolves with a bedsit and a job at Amazon. Never let it be said that I sit on my arse and mope. Wallowing is for hippos and pigs (peppa’d, peppered or otherwise!) and while I hear a rumour that there’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood (possibly in combination with mud) I’m a single man! My blood has to be hot! Like a curry! Hang on no… the Flight of the Conchords analogy doesn’t work in this instance. Drat!
Anyway, so, I landed in Wolves on the Friday (18th), with two bags in tow as my worldly possessions, only to find that I can’t get into my new bachelor pad until 6.30pm, and I have… no sheets, no duvet, no cutlery, no… you get the idea! It was bereft of anything other than a desk, some draws and a wardrobe. So, I dump my things and using the gods of Google navigate to a reasonably new (i.e. it wasn’t here when I last lived here) shopping complex and buy a duvet, pillows, sheets etc only to emerge from the shop to find the light had died, my battery had died, and … within 100 meters of leaving the shop.. the handles on the bag had.. yes you guessed it.. died. Marvellous!
However, I made it home.. and then promptly collapsed on the bed and zonked out, I believe the expression is. Saturday was going to (and did) consist of getting to Rugeley to Amazon for induction and I needed to be sprightly! How right I was! Getting there was a nightmare! First the bus driver had a personal issue and had to leave the bus! Then, google led me on a wild goose chase, making me walk for nearly 2 hours in the midday sun around the perimeter of Amazon to get to the entry point. Fortunately I like to get to places early to scout out where they are, but I arrived looking and feeling more than a little bedraggled.
I suppose the rest is history. I’m working 4 on 3 off Sun-Wed 8-18.30, but travel is making an already long day into a veritable marathon. Leaving the house at 5.30am and returning at about 20.00 sucks, but needs must. The morning walk along the canal has been kind to me. As of yet, no rain and lots of wildlife. A water-vole gave me a surprise as they’re reasonably rare and being “BIP!!”ed at by territorial coots made me smile and remember the good things about living in Leiden, and then realise that maybe they’re transpose-able if you look in the right places. I even hear whispers of Ringnecks having made it this far north.
I still cry on occasion. Things get to me. I know what I’ve given up, the undertaking I’ve, well, undertaken! Leaving an easy way of life, and a pretty home, and let’s not forget, a wife who loved me unconditionally, to come to this : Hours of toil, a grotty bedsit, no-one to lay next to, cold mornings and evenings, barely a weeks worth of clothes, all to the back drop of the words to “Another suitcase in another hall” and a mind which ponders “Did i try hard enough? Did I give enough? Is this now what and who I am? A bastardised version of the man I want to be, defined by my own selfishness because of my own selfishness? And as I type.. my music decides to throw “Hurt” at me by NiN! Thanks for that.
But I know all of the above passes. I know I should be, and for the most part AM proud of what I’ve done. In something like 19 days in the country I’ve secured a job and done 2 weeks and one half day of work, moved from Holland to Tony’s to Wolves and acquired accommodation here, made new friends and caught up with old ones, partaken of real beer, real *coughs…. o.k. I’ll concede this is my version of real* Chinese and Indian food, and sat in the Giff, spending money earned by me, for me, and feeling home, and at peace. I was never at peace in Leiden. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: For me, there is something pernicious about the way of life there. I willfully ignored it for years but it didn’t ignore me. It ate at me. Leaving me bereft of anything other than anger and resentment. I’m free of that now, and the weight off my shoulders is literally allowing me to breath again easier. The chest pains have gone, the stress has been replaced with a different kind, but one which is manageable.
And so it dawns on me. The basterdised version of me is not the me sat here, typing, but the me in Leiden. What I can at times perceive as selfish me, was in fact, my own self preservation instinct which in a last ditch effort to save me, gave me the strength to do this, before I was consumed utterly. The me sat here, is in recovery. Finding what was buried, rather than lost, and rediscovering it. I remember the person I was, waking every day bouncy, daft, jokey, irrespective of if I was due on a 12 hour night shift later, or cleaning a toilet in the Civic at 4.30am.
I’m healing. The cathartic therapy of a hard day lugging things about, mixed with support from Tony and Sadie, Paula, and the energy gifted me from the Giffard, will see me through. I’m not whole yet, but i’m no-longer broken. “Under construction” is probably accurate.
Which suggests… perhaps… at least for a while.. anyone venturing too close.. should wear a hard hat as a precaution.