It’s November and everyone, it seems, is getting busy. Writing novels for NaNoWriMo. Daily blogging with NaBloPoMo. Growing moustaches for Movember. As the calendar rolled around to the first of the month, I also felt the need to be doing something challenging and important this November, but the fact was that I woke up with the biggest hangover I’ve had in a very long time after attending the Souls of the Dead (l’aneme de le morte) celebrations in the local village. The first of November was not a day to be doing anything much. Instead I took a freezing cold shower outside and lay on a sunlounger staring up at the bluest of skies, listening to the twittering of the birds, reading my book and drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee until I felt human again.
As is usual when you feel out of sorts, a distinct chink started to appear in my armour as I lay gazing up at the blue sky and remonstrating with myself for drinking a few too many vina cottas (glasses of the local fortified wine) the night before. I could feel it like a distant sense of unease or disquiet. And it wasn’t long before the chink had been prised open creating a doorway for “the demons” to walk through. One by one they entered and sat around me, squatting on the veranda in their long tailcoats and big black boots. Unwashed hair in their eyes. The smell of stale cigarettes and something more damp and earthy was lingering and making its way into my nostrils.
I sighed and looked around me but I knew that this time there would be no escape. I was just going to have to lie back and listen to it all. First of all the looks of disgust and the mutterings of “look at you, a hangover at your age”. I tried to defend myself, stating primly that I actually couldn’t remember the last hangover I’d suffered. And I wasn’t even drunk. Just a little tipsy. Just not used to it these days. That’s OK, isn’t it? It’s not like I make a habit out of it. They tutted and muttered some more. “What are you even doing, anyway? Lying here on a Wednesday morning on a sunlounger. Don’t you have a job to go to or something? What are you? Some kind of loser?”
I sighed and walked over to the outdoor shower, turning it on and letting the ice cold water run over me as I tried my hardest to keep breathing. Thankfully there were no clouds in the sky and stepping away from the shower I was once more warmed by the hot November sun. The demons had magically disappeared, no doubt scared off by the cold water, and Running Boy re-appeared with yet another coffee. By this time I was feeling pretty good and back to normal. But the questions that had been posed were still floating around in my head as I dried off again in the sun.
What are we even doing here? Another housesit? Why? Wouldn’t I prefer to be working? Really working, doing something I enjoy? And after our time in Italy, we’re back to the château in France until May. Again, why? How long can we do this for? All this moving around. Are we just running away? Or are we running towards something and just haven’t realised it yet?
Valid questions, I’m sure. And ones that would normally have me pacing about and lying awake at night. But for some reason this time I just decided to let them go. I heard them. I acknowledged them. And I let them go. And with them, any shoulds about the month of November. This may just be my time to let go and acknowledge that yes, maybe I have lost focus. Maybe we have lost focus. When May rolls around and our sit at the château ends, we will have been doing this for a couple of months short of four years. Housesitting and a couple of odd jobs here are there. Back when we decided to take some time out, we both assumed it would be for a year or so. But things just continued. More housesits. A few odd jobs. And here we are all this time later.
Of course I haven’t achieved what I thought I would. But then, I’m not really sure I had much of a plan. And to belittle this experience into a list of achievements, does not allow for the wonder and magic that can take place when you risk giving up everything to try something new. We’ve seen so much and done so much together. We’ve had a lifestyle where we haven’t been ruled by work and society’s expectations. We’ve spent some savings and we’ve earned some money. Give or take a few hundred pounds here and there and we’re in the same situation financially as we were four years ago when we started on this adventure.
We’ve rigged up cold outdoor showers everywhere we’ve gone. Swum in freezing rivers. Chopped wood and built fires. Camped in some extraordinary places. Cycled up hills and freewheeled down, racing each other. We’ve walked, talked, laughed, learned and played. Discovered more than I thought possible, about the places we’ve been and about ourselves.
I’m not really sure why I’m writing this overly long blog post and I have no idea what’s coming next. I have some ideas for my time at the château. I want to paint more and cycle more. I want to get something going online. Maybe finish what I started three years ago with this blog. Sometimes I want to earn more and get a place of our own, but mostly I’m just happy with what we’ve already got. The time to experience life. It’s difficult sometimes to just let things happen and to just be. We seem to live in a world that is sometimes wholly focused on achieving and getting. But I think I’m getting closer to being able to live in the spaces in-between. Enjoying those little moments of nothing much. Small, seemingly insignificant, pleasures that can quietly build up to a whole day. Day after day after day.
If you’re still reading you may notice some anomalies here. Hold on a minute, wasn’t she meant to be in Normandy now, looking after cows and chickens? It doesn’t sound like Normandy in November does it? Blue skies, sunshine, sun loungers? I actually wrote this blog post three years ago while we were looking after a tiny campsite in the hills of Abruzzo in Italy. A wonderful six weeks of getting lost, drinking very strong coffee and practising Italian on the local shop and café owners. As it’s November again it seemed timely to finally publish it.
Has anything much changed in the last three years? Not really. We’re still hopping countries and jobs – France, Denmark, the UK, France again. We’re still housesitting and wondering what’s next. I’m still thinking about doing something more with this blog, earning more and getting a place of our own. I still talk to the demons….. sometimes.
But most of all I’m sitting in the here and now. Appreciating what is. Knowing that the little moments are the moments I’ll remember. Living more comfortably and fully in the spaces in-between, because that after all, is where the light gets in.
“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Hope you’re having a wonderfully in-between November wherever you are. As usual, I’d love your comments ♥