Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Living Adventurously (aka, Quitting)

Remember way back, oh two years ago, when we moved to London? How it was the most exciting thing in the whole world? Well, it hasn't really worked out for us. I feel like such a flake saying this, but we're leaving.

I had loved it, I really had. Then at the beginning of last year I hit a wall. I spiralled into a bad place and suddenly I hated everything, I mean everything. It was pretty terrible. I spent my days either crying or thinking about how I could leave my family. I swore that the city was the problem and that I'd just feel better if we lived somewhere where every noise, every shout, every mattress discarded in the street didn't cut into my soul. It was really, really no good. I did not leave my family and I did stop crying, but I never felt at home again in London. The city that I had briefly loved felt hard, abrasive, expensive, exhausting. I had neither the money to enjoy the amazing bits that called to me or the energy to find the amazing bits that I could afford. The tiny bit of community that we'd had here had left and I was lonely, tired and worn down. *sad violin* 

We daydreamed of moving, of leaving the city and our jobs and finding a way to live cheaply and happily outdoors. We talked in maybes; 'maybe we could move to France? Maybe we could move to Dorset? Maybe we could move to Alaska?' (that last one was all Nye.) But however deeply we felt the longing to move there didn't seem any way to make it happen while we were running as fast as we could to keep up with the daily get up, get everyone ready, work, get everyone back, feed everyone, work, sleep, repeat, travel at the weekends. There was no energy to talk about making a change let alone the energy to actually do it and while we had been talking about quitting wedding photography for years neither of us could come up with a viable alternative that we could step into.

Sometimes when you're desperately looking for a way out the universe throws you a bone, it's just that it's not the bone you hoped for. Instead of a nice juicy rib that you can chew at your leisure it's a great fucking ox skull hurled through your sitting room window and now you have a way out but there's glass and shit everywhere and a frankly terrifying head staring at you with its gaping, empty eye sockets and you're too shocked and traumatised to move. That's what happened. (Literally. No, not really, but it was close.) 

It was messy and horrible and I shook for days but it was finally clear that we could not keep going the way that we were, we were starting to fall apart at the seams. So we quit, kind of. It was mostly emotional and symbolic at that point; we planned to leave London and we stopped taking wedding bookings and instantly we felt better, lighter.

That was five months ago. At the moment we're starting to pack up the things we want to keep, trying really hard to get rid of as much of our crap as possible, finishing making our house nice so that we can rent it out (one day, one day we'll make a house nice so that we can live in it) and freaking out. Nye, mostly fixing the house; me, mostly freaking out.

'Where are you going?' you ask. Well, that's a good question. How very clever of you to notice that I have not in fact mentioned an actual plan, somewhere we are going to go and something we are going to do. Well, immediately we are going to France, to stay in N's parents' self-catering place. When you're having an existential crisis it helps if someone you know has a spare house in the south of France and is willing to let you ride out your meltdown in it.

We're planning to stay for about three months and for the girls to go to pre-school there while we a) recover from the last few years and b) figure out what the hell we're going to do longer term c) eat cheese, drink wine and get fat/fit (yet to be determined).

After that we are thinking about spending a couple of months in the Western Isles. We also talk about Dorset, Glasgow, Wales and moving to sea. So if anyone would like to start a sweepstake on where we'll end up. . .

I fluctuate between thinking that we're doing something great, we're living adventurously, we're identifying what doesn't make us happy and doing what we can to find what will, teaching our children that life is short and precious and that you need to live it well, that fear shouldn't stop you from trying new paths. And then feeling like a complete and utter failure who has invested eight years in a career that they don't love, who has no idea what they actually want to be (or where they want to live) and who is dragging their children around in their wake while they try to figure it out causing them irreparable therapy-inducing damage. Not to mention feeling like an entitled brat who has the luxury of throwing it all in and moving to France. I have good days and bad days.

At the moment we have no idea when we're actually going to get out of here. We were aiming for February but that's not going to happen. Life and Christmas and the flu saw to that. We run out of money at the end of March that would be a good point by which to have our arses in gear. Wish us luck.