Sooo, I moved house. My advice for anybody contemplating doing this is … don’t. Just don’t. Live in a box instead.
Actually it was fine, and sort of the most excitingscarygrown-up thing I’ve ever done. And I don’t think I fucked it too badly. Of course, in the middle of it, we got the news that H was going to be made redundant next academic year – which is EXACTLY what you need when you’ve just taken on all the debt in the world. But, actually, it’s all fine. I mean, it’s not fine, it’s not fucking fine, but H is wildly employable and awesome (though I may admit to being biased) and I think we’ve managed to find something that will tide us over nicely, and may actually be even better in the long run. I think it was the emotional shock of it, really, which was the hardest thing to manage.
And, weirdly, because I’m rampagingly commitment phobic, alongside basically fucking terrified H will actually notice what I’m like one day or, you know, arbitrarily leave in search of the fabled picket fence of normativity, there was massive amounts of anxiety underpinning the whole mortgage-getting process. I kind of figured losing my H and my house in the same fell swoop of circumstance would be shitty beyond shitty – so, yeah, in a pinch, I can cover the all mortgage and all bills on my own. I’d have to get a lodger or something, since I understand eating food is also of moderate importance to humans, but the point is: I could do it. Which turned out to mean that, in the worst case scenario, unemployed H and still employed AJH would not lose their home.
But that kind of stuff takes its toll, and we spent quite a while just taking turns to be sad at each other, and moving house is itself, quite a big undertaking, so I’ve been feeling like a hamster in a wheel for about two months now. I honestly can’t remember how I managed my time at the start of the year because I’m sure I used to have more of it. Though, looking back on it, I haven’t done so badly this year: two books published, three books written (one in edits, one with publisher, one in need of substantial edits), one more book nearly written and hopefully not a pile of a suck, two shorts of 15k words each, and about 20k of another novella. Plus I read a bunch of romance novels, and wrote about them, before all my time got eaten. And met a bunch of new people, readers and writers both who are wonderful and now feel like a hugely important part of my life. So I’ve done shit and learned shit … on top of the whole house buying thing. I think I can look back on 2013 with a sense of pride, and forward to 2014 with a sense of hope.
Y’know, I think it’s good. I think it’s all good.
Also I love the house. I love that its mine. Currently we’re still sort of lodgers in it because we own very little furniture, and buying furniture is just a pain in the arse. It’s quite fun, don’t get me wrong, but it tends to take a long time, and it uses faculties I’ve never developed, by which I mean the furniture buying faculties. Whatever part of the brain/soul can look at a piece of furniture and think “yes, you will look nice in the living room.” It’s like I had to buy a fridge the other day. How the hell do you do that? I went into Curry’s and I was all “I’d like to buy a fridge” and they were all “They’re there” – pointing at about twenty in a row. I kind of assumed there’d be some associated fridge-related sales patter, but, no, “they’re there” is all I got. So I pointed to one, since all they seemed basically identical, and said “okay, I’ll have that one.” And then they looked at me like I was the weird one here.
(It turned out to be a good fridge as we can get three bottles of champagne, one Pepsi Max and a carton of milk into the shelf behind the door so what else do you need?)
And thankfully the house itself is very light, as in full of light, not just light-coloured and done out largely in neutral tones so as long as don’t go crazy I think I shouldn’t mess everything up too much. Currently we have a study which is temporarily full of flatpack bookcases (I will upgrade these to actual wood when I have actual money again), desks and computers, and we’re basically living in it. The sofa has been ordered but won’t arrive til March, I think because it’s being hand built by leprechauns on the moon or something. I’ve always secretly wanted one of those corner-type units because they look like the cosiest things in the world, so it’s one of those, and I am incredibly excited. That’s the other weird thing about owning a house. You can sort of go “I’ve always wanted to… oh wait, I can actually do that.”
We also have a dining room table, which is also big and rustic, and has been used so far almost solely for playing the board games. As it should be. And we’ve recently acquired a mattress for the bed, which has improved our quality of life tremendously. We were sleeping in a pile of duvets and pillows in the attic and while this was terribly romantic, and I loved being able to see the stars and the moon, and the red-grey dawn, through the skylight, it wasn’t hugely what you might call … comfortable. So I think we were both suffering extremes of sleep deprivation because the day the mattress arrived we collapsed onto it and slept for a ridiculous number of hours.
I also went a little bit mad somewhere in the middle of the furniture buying process and ended up randomly getting this antique steamer chest – just because I could. On the other hand, I think it might be the best thing I own. It’s huge, and filthy, and smells of about a hundred years of socks, and is made of dark wood and iron bands. And most delightfully of all, the inside is lined with newspapers, most of them from 1922. There’s even an advert on one of them for the White Star Line. It’s currently airing in the hallway but I keep seeing it and thinking how much Ash would love it. For various reasons, not all of them depraved.