Saturday, 1 August 2015


Ever felt like you are being shunted from behind by a Terminator in a big rig? There you are on your motorbike, looking behind and seeing the behemoth bearing down on you. Suddenly you are hit from behind with such unstoppable force - pushed onto a trajectory you cannot control. That Terminator in the truck controls your fate but you can't make out its features. It's been after you for a long time, edging ever closer. Sounds melodramatic? Not for many people, including me. It's an apt analogy for what continues to happen. FATE; change of life, tighter restrictions, fewer options and no matter what I do I can't stop this process; it's driven by something exterior.

A little over three weeks ago I was obliged (through employment circumstances) to tell my landlord I had to move out. I gave the requisite three months notice thinking I might have at least a couple of months to sell my furniture, enjoy the last of my home and independence. Wrong! I had exactly three WEEKS. Yes, it's all over, done and dusted folks. Last weekend I moved into Jean-Claude's home. I have most of 1.5 rooms upstairs. I've been lucky; he decided to throw out his very old bedroom furniture upstairs which made space for mine. This is great because it has meant I can have a bit of my own surroundings and a place to work. From the rest of the house you wouldn't know I was there.

Why the rush? JC explained that otherwise I'd be moving during the long summer holidays and nothing 'moves' during that time. Everyone is off work so all of August would be impossible and I'd be back at work in September. If I wanted to hire a truck and some strong guys I'd have to do it now.

It's been distressing to be so rushed and JC kept trying to push me forward, saying I had no choice. He was very helpful of course in providing boxes and tape and carting stuff to our cars and putting my small stuff in his garage attic. The real problem was my furniture. I loved my modest furniture and worried about what might happen if I found myself without a roof over my head in the future and no money to buy stuff all over again. JC's attitude softened a bit over the weeks and he put in effort to find someone cheap to move me. He had to dismantle some things like my table and chairs and store them. It wasn't possible to sell them in time.

There are no garage sales in France. Le Bon Coin (internet site for second-hand stuff) seems to have prices worse than Trade Me and I didn't have time to manage that process, nor the language skills. I made flyers and put them in the letterboxes down my street. I got one 'bite'. Two ladies bought a china/book cabinet and my buffet. Hang on - not so easy!

As is often the case with furniture in France, it is not moved assembled so you have to break it all down into its component pieces and reassemble it at the other location. This meant JC had to spend time dismantling before the buyers could take it away. Furniture held together with nails is a nightmare - things inevitably become damaged. Screws are easier but it's fraught each time you move. With some items of furniture it is impossible to do this without several strong men to help, as in the case of an armoire (wardrobe). You have to have professional-type tools and plenty of experience with furniture - quite beyond my capabilities.

All these moves have taken a toll on some of my most fragile and precious items, especially my Lord of the Rings figurines, despite taking great care. Gimli had his pigtail broken off, Legolas's bow has two breaks and an arrow is broken off, Aragorn's ring finger is hanging by a thin wire, an orc has lost part of his skirt. Most upsetting.

JC's housekeeper found buyers for the fridge, microwave, clothes dryer and single bed. I needed money to pay for the move so I'm grateful that covered the costs. However, JC's loft and garage still contain some large items like the washing machine, dishwasher, another china cabinet/bookcase and we don't know what to do about that. My stuff was almost new. I was lucky to get 40% for any item so I've written the stuff off in my head.

I found this move the most distressing of any I've done (a great many) because it was so rushed, the furniture and appliances needed to go, the furniture needed dismantling and I'd lost my ability to have a life/environment of my own. I'm trying to adjust though I can't change my heart and my nature. I'm now busy wading through the government and private organisations I need to advise of my change of address. Some work well, for instance the site where you can change details for your car ownership, taxes, social security all in one go.

There's naturally the stress of switching to living as a couple though it's not strictly 'conventional'. There have been some sticky moments and there's lots of negotiation and compromise and tolerance required, especially in these senior years. JC has lived alone for 15 years at least (though always with women in his life)  and I'd adapted well to my independent lifestyle where no one told me how things had to be done or organised. The awkwardness will pass and we'll settle into a routine. It's only been a week. He's gone out of his way to help me settle in as fast as possible by setting up my desk, TV and stereo and I've made him a courgette and leek tart to help him feel at ease.

Photos of my old (modern) life in France before the steamroller arrived. 
Next post - my new antique environment.


Anonymous said...

God, this entry gives me shivers. I don't know how I'd handle having such little control over my home. Most of the stuff - OK, it would be inconvenient and distracting to lose (along with seeing my sense of style dissipating into charity shops or people who don't know me). But it would be so hard to be constantly shoved forward by FATE. I'd be constantly looking for the breaks to stop things or scrambling to find some purchase to at least direct things to where *I*'d want to end up.

I'm sure some would argue that staying at JC's is a 'soft landing' but if it wasn't mutually anticipated and planned, that would bring on a host of new anxieties. Nothing 'soft' in that, is there?

Here's to the next post, then, and carving out your place and space and finding that equilibrium again!

And here's hoping this happened in the break of the hot hot weather.

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