Early days

I moved to a new country on Wednesday. It is now Saturday, and I have spent the last two days cleaning my house, stocking up my cupboards at Costco, befriending the kitten (including believing I had lost the kitten out of a window, crying in the garden thinking I would be dumped for being a negligent girlfriend, finding said kitten inside the house after all – hiding in the recliner), and attempting to get my head around the gargantuan to-do list. It’s early days in the New Life.

I have also succeeded in eating badly, sleeping badly, overreacting, panicking, and my personal favourite: sitting in a stupor.

Cowboy is hiding from me this morning, while I scowl at the computer. Who knew it would be so difficult to find affordable, relatively nice furniture in an actual shop where I could go in and just get the furniture? I didn’t realise how important it would be to me to have furniture. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for weeks now. It was fine while I was waiting to move, but now I’m here, I want to plunge some roots down and feel like I have a home.

It’s becoming an ordeal. If I could hide from myself, I would.

On the flip side, things that I thought would be horrible, terrible, insurmountable issues as part of the move have turned out to be nothings, and the relief is overwhelming.

Yesterday I played with the horses in the rain, and began to see how good life is going to be. If I could only get some furniture…

Headache

I have a headache. It might be because I’ve neglected to wear my glasses for the last few weeks, but have simultaneously upped my computer usage while I try to negotiate the Big Move. Might be because I’ve had a bit too much sugar and caffeine today.

Might be fatigue, might be muscle spasm, might be a virus.

Might be my poor brain trying to understand whether or not my UK iPhone will work in the USA, and if so, how do I get a good deal on a mobile contract? I pay £6 per month, and so far the cheapest option I’ve found over there for something remotely comparable is over $40 per month. I’m not even certain that my UK phone (unlocked, bought from the Apple shop, and destined to be used until it dies) will be recognised by the US networks, which seem to have a will of their own.

Might be my brain trying to figure out how to pay the bills. Might be the fierce desperation that I have to suddenly and inexplicably win the lottery, so that I can suddenly and inexplicably buy a homestead of my own. The nesting instinct is powerful these days.

Might be the sadness that is starting to set in, as I begin to understand that I am moving far away from my closest friends, from my close-knit family, and from everything that is familiar to me.

Might be the many hours spent at the sewing machine today, making bunting.

I think I’ve lost my mind…

On climbing back on.

“Get straight back on!” my instructor would shrill, marching over to wherever I was picking myself up out of the dirt. “Up you get! Get back on!”

That’s the first rule that I remember learning about horses, apart from never using a mane comb on the tail. If you come off, get straight back on.

It’s decent enough advice, and intended to stop setbacks from sticking long enough to become issues and obstacles. See that crappy thing that just happened? You can get over it and move on and still have a great time, and that crappy thing becomes a great big nothing.

It’s been a strange time in life lately, and I fell off this blog. I fell off normal life. I fell into being somebody else for a little while, and realised it was no fun. Worst of all, I climbed off my horse. I climbed off, voluntarily, intentionally. Even though I landed on my feet like a regular dismount, I might as well have thrown myself face first into the dirt. My demons cackled with glee.

See these crappy things that happened? They’re huge and terrible and your life is over and you’ll never be happy again. You are a great big nothing.

It spiralled. I watched myself behave in a way that I hated. I listened to myself say things to Cowboy that were unfathomably horrible. I felt myself sliding like a poisoned body into a murky swamp, completely apathetic to stop it from happening.

It wasn’t quite what I wanted, given that I was making plans for my whole future at the time, and a murky swamp wasn’t what I really had in mind.

Shut up, the demons said. What you want doesn’t matter. You’ll never get it. You’re going to fail at everything you ever do, you’ll lose everything you’ve ever had, and you’ll never have anything again.

And then I finally saw the sunshine. I saw this Sunshine:

We played today. :)

I sat in the saddle in tears, about to climb off again (throw myself metaphorically face first in the metaphorical dirt). I had a violent meltdown. I was on the verge of quitting – quitting everything. I’d just go back to bed and never get up again.

Cowboy gripped my knee as I went to dismount, holding me still. He was unusually forceful. He almost shook me.

“Stay on the horse,” he said. I fought him feebly for a moment. He said it again, slower, more urgently. “Stay. On. The horse.”

“I can’t,” I protested, sobbing. “I’m just not in the right mood.” I’ll never be in the right mood again. Everything is worthless and useless and my life is already over.

“She doesn’t care,” he said. “Go ride.” He let go of us, and chased Sunshine off into the middle of the arena.

I sat there as she walked about, looking for a spot where she might be allowed to stop. I didn’t even pick up the reins. I watched her look back at me first with one brown eye, and then the other. She listened to me as I tried to catch my breath between the tears. She heaved a big sigh, and stepped onwards across the sand.

I finally came out of the haze. I emerged, squinting, from the toxic fog where the demons muttered at me, and I noticed the way she moved beneath me. I noticed her gentle, deliberate footfalls, and her patient breath. When we finally stopped, I felt her big heart pumping.

We had a big breakthrough that day. I say “we” did. I mean me. She has life all figured out already. I needed to hear it from her. She turned her head a little, looked up at me on her back. I like to think she was saying “Hey, human, what’s the big deal? I’ve got this.”

She became a safe place. That’s an amusing notion, given that just a few weeks earlier I had been frightened to be on her back. Now, I will climb on her fresh from the field, and we put the world to rights.

Except now I am back in England, thousands of miles from her, and looking into the fog once more. In searching for another safe place, I’m climbing back on to the blog. Let’s ride.

"I feel stronger…"

I am a bit of a nerd, secretly. I love a good RPG on the X-Box or on my computer. I adore those roaming adventure games where you build your trusty band of comrades and go on quests.

One of the games of years gone by that I loved (but never finished), was Planescape: Torment, an epic game of storytelling and imagination. I think I only played it through the once.

What stuck with me most was what the only playable character would say when you had enough experience to level up. In his gruff, battle-worn voice, he would growl:

I feel stronger…

I feel like I’m levelling up. Today, I completed the third run of the Couch to 5k programme – that’s week one done and dusted. It was tough, but probably because I chose to run up and down hills in the village, instead of running on the flat. It was good to see the little progress map move to week two. It was good to get home feeling like I could have gone on for longer.

I feel stronger. Apart from how my knees hurt, and I have a new pain in my shoulder.

My mental fortitude still leaves a lot to be desired, as I can think of nothing but chocolate, biscuits and cake at the moment.

No news from the school in Seattle yet. The suspense is killing me.