Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Have to keep on moving.

When I lived in France, I moved once in 18 years and I don't even remember it. My parents had bought a plot of land and built the house on it when I was about 6. They have lived there ever since. I go back there every summer. I don't know where that urge to move, live somewhere else came from. All I knew is that I didn't want to live in France.

Then I made what some people consider the ultimate move. I have moved from France to Ireland. When I first came here back, some dozen years ago, it was a big deal. I was only 18 and there was no such thing as mobile phones. The Internet wasn't as widespread as it is now. My parents used to call me once a week for a mere 15 minutes. I was an au pair, trying to improve my English. Being a foreigner in this country back then was still something quite 'exotic'. There weren't as many of us. And you couldn't help but be noticed. The plan was to live here for a year, go back to college for another one and then move to Australia for a year or so. It didn't happen. I stayed here, found a job and never left.

Here, I moved a few times. I stayed with 2 families as an au pair. There were issues with the first one. The kids used to spit on me when I was getting them up to go to school. I couldn't understand why a Stay at home mum would need an au pair to look after her children. Things didn't work out and I moved to another family where I stayed until the end of my contract.

I then shared a house. I'll always remember cleaning one of the bedrooms after one the guys left and finding a piece of paper with chat up lines on it and their English translations. He was French and his English was far from good (that's what happens when you work in French all day and only socialize with French people after work). I had a great laugh picturing him in a pub, trying to chat a girl up, and slipping that piece of paper out, looking for the next thing to say.

Eventually I bought a house. I couldn't wait to be able to do whatever I wanted with it, paint the walls green today, red tomorrow, put my own touch to it. I bought things for that house, looked after it. So many expectations. And then a few years later, I had to move again. Flee it. With nothing but Marie in tow and the clothes on my back. I left all my possessions behind that day. Nothing mattered but my safety and Marie's. I went back to collect some things, things I could carry, some clothes, a few toys, my laptop. I left anything unnecessary or too bulky behind, books, Cd's, furniture. Everything I had worked hard for, I left. A few months later, just before it was sold I went back to collect more things but everything that belonged to me had been put in bin bags, out the back, subject to the elements. There wasn't much left, all my books had disappeared, all my Cd's were gone. The house was in a terrible state, broken counters, broken tiles, broken floor boards.

Some work colleagues put us up for a few months, but with 7 of us in a house, it quickly became too crowded. We were asked to leave, on New Year's Eve. 'Happy New Year to you, now could you please clear off?' Thanks to Mr Foodie, we found a roof. And literally that's what it was, the converted attic of a small bungalow. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away. Not in a good way. Shock. Realization that I went from having my own comfortable 3 bedroom house to this. That all I could afford was this roof. That all I could give Marie was this. It was tiny, three rooms, one after the other. I fought back tears (not very successfully though). We moved in anyway.We had no choice. Mr Foodie stayed with us, as I was afraid to stay on my own at night. 'Only until you feel more comfortable' was the deal. Since then, the only time we have been apart at night was when I went into hospital to give birth to Noelie and her short stint in hospital last October. The place grew on us. Marie slept in the bedroom and we slept on a makeshift bed, half sofa / half fold up bed. We had to tiptoe through Marie's bedroom to go to the bathroom if we needed to at night. We did her room up, we put glow in the dark stars on her ceiling. We made it our own and think about it with fond memories. We didn't have much money, we had to make do, but we were happy. It is now remembered fondly as 'the Roof'. My own house was sold eventually with a little profit made. And we left the Roof for the luxury of a 2 bedroom apartment. We had space, a lovely view of the city. But things went wrong again. Lifts were broken every second day, I was 6 months pregnant and couldn't see myself carrying a baby, a buggy, shopping and a 7 year old up 5 flights of stairs, cars were broken into in the underground car park, a non existent landlord. We decided to forfeit our deposit and moved back to the bungalow. But this time, not in the Roof, but in the house. This is where we are now. And we like it.

But we have decided to move again, at the end of the school year. Since I have lost my job, there is nothing to keep us here apart from Marie's school. Mr Foodie spends a small fortune in petrol and toll every month. Although we managed to get the rent down, it is still high for what we have. So from a financial perspective, we have decided to move on the other side of the city. There is also another perspective to it. We are somehow restricted here, I don't really like the area, there is always the probability of bumping into some people I don't want to bump into. I am not comfortable walking around the shopping centre in case I bump into them, I am not comfortable picking up Marie from school because I could bump into them. If they are looking for trouble, they know where to find me and at what time to find me there at. I am really looking forward to being free from all that stress and bad memories. We have started to look for a new place. Ideally, we would love a bungalow. We have told Marie about it and she is delighted to move. It is all a big adventure for her. So we are going to start packing, find a new house, a new school and start anew. But there is one thing to remember, the greater the expectations, the greater the fall. So I'm keeping my expectations low. Things have a way of working out.

This post was written as part of Josie's Writing Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak. I wrote about prompt 1: 1. Tell me about a time you decided to move house. What prompted it? Did you want to move? What did you leave behind, and what did you find when you got there?

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