Choking back tears, I stumble wearily to the desk in my office and fire up the MacBook. Finding my way onto Google, I type ‘bungalows for sale Studley’, whereupon I’m presented with an assortment of estate agents’ websites. Clicking on ‘Right Move’, pictures of a dozen or so properties flash before my eyes as I scroll down the page.
Too small …
Too expensive …
Too cheap …
Way, way too small …
Oh, bollocks. This isn’t panning out. But wait a second, why not Redditch? My old stomping ground of nearly 20 years. Yeah. My kinda town. Or at least, it used to be.
‘Bungalows for sale Redditch’
Hmm … not bad.
Too small …
Semi-detached? Yeah, right. No thank you very much.
Ooh … but what’s this?
And there it is: standing beneath a heavily overcast sky, a half built dormer bungalow nestled in a mostly average residential street beams back at me. On the surface, it’s nothing special but screams potential. This is the one.
After giving it the once over, Mum’s straight on the phone to the estate agents. Luckily, the house is still for sale but we’re told we can’t view the property until the building work is completed. Fuck that. Thirty minutes later (and after sweet talking the site manager), we’re standing in what will be the downstairs bedroom and I dash upstairs as Mum chats amiably to a builder. The main bedroom is enormous compared to the bloody broom cupboard where I’m entombed back in Evesham. Yep. Definitely the one.
Selling our own house presents only a moderate challenge. Following zero interest and after quickly appointing a second estate agent, things are soon moving in the right direction. Three sets of buyers come and go – in addition to interminable legal wrangling – but by March 2018, the fourth and final buyer seals the deal.
Bye bye, Evesham.
On moving day – no joke – the sun shines brighter than it has done for months. I feel my whole equilibrium shift as my eldest brother drives me to our new abode. I’m no longer hunched over as if I’m trying to shield myself from everything. As the removal chaps come and go around me, I stand in the hall with my shoulders back and head held high for the first time in eighteen months.
I’m not going to lie, there’s been some difficult times since the move. Crippling rheumatic pain (fibromyalgia) still blights my daily existence, though foolish pride prevents me from using the walking stick I acquired some time ago. A steady supply of (prescribed) codeine and morphine tablets continue to offer some relief and my overall motility seems to be improving. Considering how much I’ve abused my body over the years, it could be so much worse. Some days are better than others but it appears the better days are multiplying.
Behind the scenes, I am embroiled in something of a ‘financial dispute’, but I’m enjoying being me again, so I’m won’t allow anything to spoil my new lease on life. More importantly and for the first time since my early teens, I’ve lost all interest in living my life vicariously through someone else. I guess I’m getting to know who I really am and – rather than wasting time engaging in some deep, heartfelt journey into ‘self’ or any of that bollocks – I’ve learned to take each day as it comes.
Live in the moment and all that.
Neither am I swearing off all my bad habits or claiming to be ‘born again’. I’m not for even a millisecond suggesting that I’m over that period in my life. There’s still darkness in me somewhere and I would never want to lose that. It’s remains part of who I am. Indeed, it may present itself at any moment and I’ll be off again on the road to oblivion, probably for the last time. I doubt it. The point is, I have choice, and that’s the exciting part.
I choose not to use up all my nine lives in one night.
I choose not to engage in self-destructive behaviour.
Have I ‘chosen life’? I suppose I have, yes.
There may be one particular friend of mine reading this right now who thinks that this is all bullshit and it’s only a matter of time before I trip myself up. They’ll say I’m fooling myself, being totally naïve, playing with fire blah blah blah …
To them, I say this:
I’m sincerely grateful for your concern and but please don’t worry. I’ve got this.
Do I care what people think? No.
Can it last? Yes.
How? One day at a time.