I spent time deliberating over the title of this post. This may not sound particularly note-worthy but as it neatly sums up the main vein running through this article I thought I’d make reference to it.
I’ve just moved into a new flat. It’s absolutely beautiful and I have found myself tonight slightly mesmorised by the light on the the powder blue walls and the generally lightness of the whole interior. Tonight I will have been here 8 nights; 8 nights sleeping in a new bedroom (I have the same bed), 8 days navigating a new building, area, and internally a kitchen, cooker, washing machine etc etc. This might sound a bit process orientated, and I guess that I half mean it to.
As far as moving goes it was relatively painless, luckily everything I own fitted into one van and the new flat isn’t far from the old one so the journey wasn’t difficult. I’ve spent the last month or so with my parents, decorating, buying furniture and sorting out utilities and other such essentials- there were a few stressful moments but not too many. It’s all gone smoothly.
Tonight I’m sipping a glass of red wine, listening to Prince and writing. Vienna (my cat) periodically appears and wraps herself around my leg, and I’ve finished cooking and have done the washing up (shock horror!). At my old flat I would usually leave the washing up for the next day, and if I’m entirely honest it would often acummulate over the course of a couple of days. This new flat is so new and shiny, newly decorated, carpetted etc, and I really want to keep it that way. I read something recently which stated that your flat, your home (although I’m still struggling a little bit with that concept), is an extension of yourself and so keeping it clean and tidy is a form of self care.
I say I’m still struggling with the concept of home, which may sound strange but it’s because I never really saw my last flat as my home. It was my flat, it was where I lived, but it was 8th or so place I lived over the course of the previous five years and I never thought I’d stay there so long. I’d been ready to move for about five years but never got my ass in gear and tbh after the explosive events of last year I’m truly glad I waited, I think it’s come at the right time and as much as this is clearly positive I think it’s also what’s making the whole concept difficult to grasp and hold onto. This hugely positive happenstance has taken place after so much negativity, and it was basically all instigated by my cat. My mind is blown by how much has changed just in the course of the last year: I have a cat now!
Explanation: I wasn’t supposed to have pets at my last place, I didn’t think I’d see my support worker as he very rarely visited me at the flat and so I thought I’d get away with it. He visited, saw the cat sitting at the window and tactfully suggested that there were flats on the home-choice website, for council properties, which allowed pets and me, being the moral person I am immediately went onto my laptop and bid on a property. Two months later I moved- it’s all felt like something of a whirlwind. Perhaps this was chance, perhaps it was fate, either way I’m letting myself slowly take it in.
The move has thrown up so much emotional baggage and history, obviously understandable as I had lived in my previous flat ten years. I was 25 when I moved into the last place, could still handle my hang-overs, was in a relationship with a reclusive stoner and didn’t decorate or do anything to personalise my flat for two years. I wasn’t bothered by my surroundings and was still visited by a care-coordinator once a month.
I was still somewhat institutionalised if I’m honest- I couldn’t quite grasp my own agency or the fact that I could actually exert will or personal choice over the events of my life. I’d followed a wave out of a psychiatric ward, through residential care homes, the Bethlam Royal, shared houses, college, university and then finally found myself in an independent flat. This is system talk for someone not living in a residential scheme, although technically it wasn’t independent, it was supported living. Perhaps this was why it never really felt like a home. I am now in a council flat- no support worker, no such tangible and close safety net.
I’ve spent the last few weeks agonising over paint colours, carpets and am currently deliberating over two book cases which I’ve seen and like equally. This decision seems crucial. Moreover I want to keep this flat spotless; I’ve already stated this and it’s because I really, really do. I think this is problem the most telling statement, and sums up how much has changed in the last ten years and so exactly what this new flat, my new home, represents.
I think there’s a small part of me (getting smaller day by day) which hasn’t quite accepted that I’m actually here- or the fact of my move hasn’t entirely sunk in, and I think that’s the strange thing with moving, or dealing with any form of positive change. The build up and anticipation is intense- and then the reality rarely delivers immediately because it is new, you have no context and so at first it’s strangely blank, curiously empty. Although empty is too strong a word: I’ve thrown myself into the decorating, purchasing and arranging processes and since moving in have acknowledged that anything new requires an adjustment period. I knew it would take a little time to get used to the changes, and be able to truly connect to my new surroundings.
It’s so shiny! And I think that at heart, over the last ten years of my life I’ve strategically accepted and embraced somewhat my old “grunger” self-identification. I’m a bit of an artist, well on the fringes of society and therefore wasn’t going to experience any kind of panic if I didn’t hoover, and keep my flat clean and tidy. I think that now I’m grasping that these things which seemed so small and insignificant back then are actually representative of a kind of internal state of mind; I already mentionned the comment I read which stated that keeping your flat clean and tidy is representative of self-care, and I think this is so on point.
I can still accept my status as being on the fringes of society, this may likely not change for a while, perhaps never, but I am lucky in that I never really wanted to be at the centre. I’m still something of an artist, perhaps less of a “grunger” now (although identity is something I’m grappling with and may write another article on) as I no longer wish to live in such a dusty, shabby space, it’s acceptable but it’s not really what I want now. It’s peculiar, how things gradually shift and change.
So I struggled deciding how to label this post because I’m still agonising, deliberating, internalising.. The flat is so light and shiny, it still feels a little bit as though I’m staying in a hotel. I guess I can end on the idea that I truly believe that my surroundings are part of a general consciousness raising process which I’ve been working on for years, but which my old flat was never going to facilitate. So I am brimming with hope, nerves, excitement and anticipation- and all the others- fear, pride, joy and expectation. I’m not living alone any more, not truly, I’ve got my beautiful Vienna, who leaves cat hair everywhere and has to be consistently reminded not to claw the chair legs and scratch the carpet.
It is a new beginning, a new start and all the other cute hashtags I’ve used to label Instagram pictures I’ve put up over the last few weeks. It’s terrifying, but also exciting and relieving on so many levels. I’m looking forward eagerly, and anticipating new challenge, joys and experiences.
Peace out 🙂