Thursday, 9 February 2012

The slight trauma of moving house...

I'm back. Started blogging a few years ago, but it was about my life in Ireland and yet I was writing in French, so it didn't really work. Then, to top it all, I was permanently put off when I found out I had reached my maximum quota of uploaded photos and couldn't add any more pictures to my scribbles. Unbearable for a photoholic like myself! Now that my schizophrenic fret about bilingualism is (partly) sorted, I think I'll give this game another try.

So, moving house. I went through that very special kind of ordeal a few months ago when I left the Irish capital for Blackrock, its reputedly posh suburb in the South of Dublin Bay. I've got the feeling that moving house always starts a new era for me, that my life is generally punctuated by my moves.

My last move before this one was when I left France for Ireland, 5 and a half years ago. The sheer excitement put aside, it was quite scary to try and convince a) all my publishers that I would work just as well for them from a little further away and that my emigrating to another country wouldn't change a thing, and b) my family and friends that I would NOT disappear forever and would stay in close contact through email/Skype/phone calls/frequent visits, etc.

I remember the existential angst when I tried to make my whole life fit into a measly 20 kg suitcase (the mean allowance bestowed by Ruinair, whether you are in the process of emigrating or just off for a few days' holiday). Admittedly I was only leaving a small studio flat, but I had somehow managed to stuff 40 boxes' worth of books in there, along with a mind-boggling amount of papers, photos, clothes and paraphernalia. Luckily and life-savingly my friend V. offered to lend me her cellar, where I could stack the mountains of stuff I wasn't going to bring with me for some time. Once I had shed most of my belongings, I was lighter and free to go.

A complex and slightly traumatic business all (the amount of things you need to do when you move house is simply amazing, especially if you are moving to another country, and packing when you are NOT going to unpack anytime soon is a bit of a headache), but following my beloved Mr Grumble (who admittedly hadn't yet shown the whole extent of his talent for grumbliness) to his adopted country was well worth all that.

Oddly enough, the large 2-bed flat I just left was much more streamlined that my Parisian studio and the belongings of our little family of 3 people only took up about 20 boxes in all. I guess I have to thank Mr Grumble's hate of clutter and consumerism for that. But also the trauma I underwent when I left France and the good resolutions that ensued: I would not accumulate stuff. I would keep my things to a strict minimum (yes, shoes too). I would borrow whatever I read from the library and sort out my wardrobe BEFORE buying anything new. I would give away everything I wasn't using. I would be zen.

After five years in that apartment and the addition of a child to the household, moving house did require more than a measly 20 kg suitcase this time around. Mr Grumble stuck to his stubborn decision of moving EVERYTHING on his own one weekend and hasn't quite recovered yet. I had to do the whole packing singlehandedly while also minding a 2 and a half year old whirlwind most of the time, frantically hunting for an acceptable if not fantastic house near the new school we had chosen for her, desperately trying to finish a 450 pages-long translation in time (a feat at which I spectacularly failed, getting angrier and angrier emails from my hysterical publisher) and packing our bags for an ill-timed trip to France.

My father-in-law died while we were there, so at least it was easy to hop on a train to Brittany to say a last farewell to dear Grandpa F., but his death made coming back to our new house and facing our new life in the burbs even harsher.

Mr Grumble was horribly sad even though he was doing the manly thing, never crying or saying a word about it apart from a single "I'm OK", and his natural grumbliness and negativity hit an all-time peak. Little Miss Sunshine turned dark too and had a severely hard time adjusting to her new school, bluntly reasoning that I didn't love her since I was leaving her in that dreary place every day for HOURS. She took to the habit of waking up 3 to 4 times a night because "the wolves" (the howling winds of Dublin Bay?) were scaring her, and the sleep deprivation seriously shattered my emotional balance. Little Miss Sunshine was crying when I woke her up in the morning, crying when I dropped her off in her class, crying when I collected her, and I too felt like crying most of the time.

The house turned out to be made of cardboard, impossible to heat and severly leaking from various places, among other niceties. It produced scary creakings when anyone was upstairs and most lights had blown off downstairs. But no such trivia would frazzle my adamant optimism — I was determined to make the most of our new life, even if Little Miss Sunshine was shakily clinging to me and refusing to venture anywhere in the house on her own, for fear of encountering a monster of some sort or an unpacked box. There was the sea at our doorstep (actually a 20 minutes gallop away, and it's freezing and polluted, Mr Grumble would point out). A real decent-sized garden (an ugly patch of nothingness, ill-conceived and in constant shade, Mr Grumble would insist). A quiet development with really nice neighbours (overpriced and in the middle of nowhere, Mr Grumble would retort). A romantic fireplace in our living room (a foul-smelling, expensive and dangerous GAS fire letting in monstrous draughts, Mr Grumble would correct).

But I will somehow manage to recreate a happy bubble for me, my grumpy partner and my hyperactive toddler/teenager. Somehow. Some day. This is a new beginning...

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