I fill the radiator up with water, take out the list of scribbled town names and road numbers that make up the itinerary I concocted and this is one of few the road trips of the Summer which when I am done will have led me to the southern edge, the northeastern edge, the western edge, the eastern edge. A small car and a small island country.
I have become someone who enjoys taking the smallest and longest road and getting lost. I bring things to chew on as I drive, cheese, bread, carrots, and as I stop, a flask of hot water, a mug and tea bags (I was long ago taught by elderly neighbours to do it that way rather than aim to travel with sad made-up tea and a flask to wash later). I bring some made-up victuals for the friends I am visiting. I bring a camera but do not take any photographs, I do open my eyes, I trust that I can take it all in and bring it with me, in feelings and impressions.
I am not gone too long but when I come back—with gifts, hand-me-down-clothes, plants, fabric, books—poppies have invaded a bed, between the hyssop, the chives and the pimprenelle (Sanguisorba minor). The runner beans have weighed down their willow canes and collapsed gracefully and thankfully within my reach. Pretty much every decision about how to train the peas and beans was ill-judged this year. Instead of starting a hundred sentences with “I should have…” I proclaim : “This is something I never have to do again this way.”
My teenagers are away for a couple of weeks as I settle into the start of a glut of green things. I do enjoy being home sitting alone and chuffed, eating food I grew from bowls I have made.
Slow reincarnation, making book shelves with lengths of rough wood, harvesting seventy-one heads of garlic planted last October, drinking green or red tea. See where I got in those long years: a long road, I must have had a clear plan from the word go, and sometimes these days I allow myself a glimpse at it, 6B pencil in hand.
I have by now touched all the edges so that fear will probably never again be able to take hold of me or my life. My life that could, I’m sure, be described as a list of tragic failures has in fact succeeded in bringing me into complete peace with myself. What else could I have been striving for ? I am now ready for more chapters, endeavouring to sing and dance with the soil, with time to sit and read, and time to sit and write, and time to sit and listen. I am here and I won’t forget to breathe. Don’t either.
The miracle : finding somewhere for us to live, somewhere for us.
We moved into our new house just over a month ago but I’m not sure whether all of me has arrived yet nor where the light switches are when it’s dark and I can’t see. Is it a dream or have I simply not quite landed yet after months of trying not to panic ? So I am hovering a few millimetres above my life but I like the space I am slowly landing into : a lot of shelves and a couple of beds to build, all our pictures to hang, hundreds of our things mislaid that we may have learned to do without by the time they resurface. It’s a new adventure, a new life, a house we can afford and where we will stay as long as we need/want/like to. On my terms for perhaps the first time in my life.
A miracle, and the best part of it is : I feel we deserve our luck, a new start, a good life, a lot of hugs.
See me herewith trying with difficulty to follow my own advice… Not to worry as worrying does not help (“not going to add a day to [my] life”), and furthermore ask myself : what is this shit-we’re-in actually good for ?
We have just one month left to have moved out of the house we have been living in for the last 4,5 years and so far have found nowhere else to go. We need : salubrious (comfortable even—we survived 11 years of designed squalor in a badly built jumped-up shed and we now actively love ourselves more), affordable, and in the vicinity of the children’s school. I am looking forward to the change that the universe has in store for us, what we will learn about ourselves in the process but in this in-between-waiting/hoping-stage I might as well admit that I am battling with fear. Existential fear sits in the kidneys. Bringing this to my awareness helps the energy to flow and not bring trouble/disease. What do I learn : I go for a brisk walk with my two children and I realize, we three are alive together, healthy, we can jump fences, go through windows, walk around obstacles, we’ll be all right. The shit we’re in has a taste of freedom if we can stop running with the fear. What do I learn : our roots, like those of the bare-root trees one can buy and plant in the colder months, can survive temporarily in a bag tied at the base to ensure the wind does not dry them, or else “trenched temporarily into any spare piece of ground until you can move them to their permanent site.”* What do I learn ? there is no permanence and it is a good thing, learning keeps you alive and in motion. What do I learn ? my life is with me, even when all its earthly components are shaken, questioned or on hold.
Truth be told, moving is not a joyous perspective for the hoarder in me. I am an immigrant, my books (52 m of bookshelves made out of rough wood), my things are my memories, the memories I knit for myself and my children. It is a particularly cruel time when I have to cast a cold eye on the strange and potentially valueless stuff I lovingly collect and keep and wonder if it will really deserve to be packed and moved (mental issue ? art !). A jar housing the stalks of most pears I have eaten in the last 7 years or so ? Cut out plastic windows from the business envelopes I receive ? Bones ? Carefully collected circular things ? I used to joke that I, a lover of rusty metal, may have been brought onto this earth to house discarded objects, but these days I decide that I—and my two young people—deserve to be safely housed too (safe from the whim of those who own houses in a country that does not protect… value… respect… tenants in the least), and I’d like to bestow this as a basic right to all humans if I may…
There is a postcard on my fridge that says that women “earn just 10% of the world’s income and own less that 1% of the world’s property” and I, a woman, “own” 4.8 acres of land that I farm, and where many bare rooted trees have been planted and will not have to move (although there are a couple of hazels I will dig up and transplant soon, for their own benefit). Perhaps in the soil is where our symbolic roots are kept moist and alive even when we’re not sure where our next bed will be. Perhaps in the soil, even when you don’t “own” land or even a spade is where all of our human roots are kept moist and alive until you find somewhere to welcome you, it needn’t necessarily be a “permanent site” for us moveable bideps but it sure needs to be secure in some way.
- advice sent at delivery by my favourite supplier of the most lovingly packaged trees, future forests.
p.s. something I just found on Poor as Folk, echoing a rant of mine earlier today…
via Community Tenants Union. The general idea here is that housing is a basic human right and people NEED housing (… ) Renters are highly exploited to benefit others and that shouldn’t happen. Community Tenants Union explains in the comments, too : “I think the point is that people shouldn’t have to rent. Creating a market for housing means that people get rich off what should be provided as a basic need.”
Chilling statistics in this video (English spoken, French subtitles) produced by the FIDH, the International Federation for Human Rights, such as—for those who reassure themselves that dreadful things happen in the “developing world” and that All is Well and Good in the West :
in France a woman dies of domestic violence every 2.7 days
I do hope that everyone who swings by here will have 1 minute and 52 seconds to watch this. On 8 March I heard a number of people asking on the radio what International Women’s Day was for exactly and the male presenter wondered about that too. It may well be that human rights are not quite universal yet, and it has been shown that unequal societies actually benefit no one.
In the meanwhile but never too far away, I am reading Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender (How our minds, society and neurosexism create difference) a truly great read, “brilliantly researched and wickedly funny”, exciting and enlightening, opening my mind and clearing some cobwebs from narrow corners in the process wishing as I do that everyone would take the time to read it. I stumbled upon Emma Cookson who in 2013 felt the same way I now do : she went on to produce a précis (a series of slides presenting the book’s main findings in a concise manner) for those who will not have/take the time to read it themselves!