This time last year, I was freezing my arse off in a London boxroom, about to say goodbye to one of my best friends (don’t worry, she’s not dead, she moved to Sweden), and trying to suppress the feeling that I was going to die in this decrepit house in Camberwell, surrounded by the detritus of two lifetimes rammed into a single room, with all the goodwill and charity of friends and relations used up on the first or second failed attempts to start living in the real world.
The sun’s coming up in Abergavenny and it’s gorgeous – clean and cool and quiet. I want to be outside, here, even though it hurts to walk more than ever – my health is the one thing that’s not improved in 2015. We have enough in the bank to pay six months’ rent on a space where there’s space. Space to breathe and work. I’m writing, and while I’m grateful for the PIP that cleared the decks and allowed us to move out here and establish ourselves, a goodly portion of our living is earned from that writing. Robin is taking commissions for paintings (via Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook) and has held down a job of her own for the first time in ages.
Things are better.
It’s been a quiet six months since we moved up here though. Not for want of things to do – you can’t throw a stray glance at a window in Abergavenny without seeing some society, group, organisation or institute running something – but for want of something else. Chutzpah, maybe. As I age and cleave away from school and Big School, my coping strategies and mechanisms for dealing with people and spaces become less and less adequate. I can’t spend too much time in supermarkets – they echo the battering on the senses which happened all the time in London. I’ve never been good at introducing myself to people at the best of times, and my behaviour has been… inconsistent. I’ve made some bad impressions and that’s kept me to myself, reflecting and – let’s be honest – hiding. My usual approach to irritants and misbehaviours is to avoid the stimulus and keep myself to myself “until I’ve learned my lesson.”
My desk in our new living room faces the wall. There’s so much light in here, from two big windows, and I have a laptop and swivel chair, and I choose to face the wall. That’s telling.
I spend time writing, which is good, but I spend time scrolling through social media and playing solo games, which is less than good. I clocked up 39 hours on World of Warcraft in my first week back in the game. That’s the working week, with an hour off on Friday for good behaviour. That’s telling, too.
After the election I elected to take some time off active political engagement. I was tired and disappointed and in pain all the time, and I need to sort out my own shit for a while, whether the Party needs every pair of boots on the ground or not. It’s a different affair in Wales – more spread out, less centralised and structured, and it feels much more dependent on networking and knowing people – the two things in the world at which I am worst. (Besides archery. I’m really bad at archery.)
I took up witchcraft instead, in a quiet sort of way. In this more than anything else I am secretive and solitary as Dickens’ oyster, it seems. Reticence comes with the territory. There are a few contacts and companions, but I don’t feel the need to be involved with a Scene and all its spats and poses, and it’s awkward talking to strangers. It’s a thing I do sometimes – that’s all.
There’s no grand resolution for 2016, other than this: do more. Stop looking at the wall, scrolling and clicking, appeasing the trained inclination towards dull and repetitive non-activity of the Bullshit Jobs variety, buying things to cheer myself up. Do more. Paint some figures and go out and play games with them. Write some fiction and stop being shy about pitching. Don’t stop at clocking a poster in a window – go to the damn event. Start drawing again. Recruit some roleplayers who aren’t eighty miles or more away – I refuse to believe that I’m the only geek in the village. Maybe go back to teaching or at least tutoring, if the college or the grammar school in town will take me on. Do more. Doesn’t matter what.