The Final Countdown – 1…

Well, my big move from Sweden back to England is almost upon us. There’s packing to be done. The apartment is littered with unfilled boxes, and a little procrastination seemed in order. So I made a cup of tea; told facebook I was procrastinating; told a few of my friends, and had a conversation in the kitchen about procrastination in general. It seems as though all that remains is to spend a little time with you people, and then I guess I’ll actually have to put things in bubblewrap. Incidentally, to make this all seem even more last minute than it actually is… I am actually writing this on Friday, though you will be reading it on Monday.

So… it’s nice of you to have stuck with me through all 10 of these. And, if you haven’t done… I’m sure you’re just as nice, just perhaps not as bored as the ones who have. By this time tomorrow I will have landed back in the United Kingdom. So I should give you one more example of something I will miss about Sweden, versus something I have missed about England.

As you may or may not know, I have never really been much of a people person. I’m not exactly anti-people, but I have never actively sought the company of other human-beings. I never got very good at interacting with them really. So many people over the years, having observed my awkwardness, would say:

“Just be yourself, and everything will be fine.”

After a few years I accepted that this might be a good plan and finally actually started not to try so hard… After observing this , those closest to me started saying things like…

“You do talk… a LOT! Perhaps just try not to give so much information.”

So, now I was confused, because that’s what I’m like when I’m “being myself”. So I tried not speaking, and people thought I was weird. It seems as though I was always struggling to find an in-between. And then… I met the lady who is now my wife. She remains the only person who has ever told me to be myself, and actually meant it. She knows I’m a procrastinator; she knows I sulk sometimes; she knows I talk waaay too much for a single human-being, and she doesn’t care. She knows I’m a perfectionist, and is well aware how often that goes hand-in-hand with procrastination, but she just laughs it off.

I guess what I’m doing here is being myself, and giving you far too much information about why I don’t seek out the company of others. However, when others find me, I’m usually very happy to have them in my life, just so long as they don’t expect a regular schedule of social interaction, or indeed interactions of any kind that take place before noon.

Why am I banging on about this? Well…

What I will miss #1: These People

Everyone

 

Some people drop into your life and drift out just as quickly. New family and friends usually come as part of a package deal when a new relationship comes along, and where my wife’s family and friends are concerned I have been fortunate. I love them all, and will miss all of them. Not that I won’t see them from time-to-time, but they certainly won’t be just around the corner any more.

But then… if you’re really lucky, you get a part of that package which was much more than you expected. For me, that is this person:

Tilda

She has been a friend to me in ways I could never have anticipated, and she means more to me than she knows. I might even go so far as to say… all I want to do is praise her. Sometimes she is a pain in the ass. We have our differences and I’m certain there have been many times when she would have liked to wring my neck like a chicken, if not for the fact that she would never do that to a chicken.

All of these people were unexpected benefits of being married to the lady I waited my entire life for, and I hope they know how deeply their absence will be felt.

Of course… as with all the other things on this countdown, there are compensations. In this case…

What I have missed #1: These People

UKpeople

There are one or two missing from here, simply because I have no photographs of them, but basically, the people in this photo are those around whom my life in England, to a greater or lesser extent, revolves. Some of them are a greater influence than others, but all are important to me.

Of course, none more so than these ones:

Me & Kiddies

…if you can ignore the elderly bloke in the middle. He’s only there to stop them from escaping.

My children are a couple of years older now, but this is still my favourite photograph of all of us.

But there is one missing. The boy who became a man… the man who became a King… the king who became… a GOD!

Richie

Whoa! Did I oversell that, or what? Alas… his plans to become ruler of the world have so far come to nought, but he did get married and become a father. And he remains one of the most important parts of my life. I’m looking forward to seeing him again. To that emotional, heart-rending moment when I knock on his door again, and he answers it with the words…

“Oh it’s you. Come in and try not to break anything.”

All of them (though I have seen them many times since moving here to Sweden) have been dearly missed, and all of them… more than the Springtime; more than 24 hour shopping, or the beautiful countryside… are the things pulling me back toward home.

I don’t seek out company, but sometimes it finds me and refuses to let go. Sometimes, in spite of myself, there are people who my world feels emptier without. Most of them are on this page. My beautiful wife of course, is going with me on this next adventure.

This next, will be my 28th address. When I was younger, I used to long to keep moving.  Every time I moved was a chance for new friends, and new adventures. The rootless life was something I craved, like so many other people in their teens, and their 20s. Nowadays though, I have much more of a solid idea of the people and places that I want around me, and – to borrow a phrase from Marvin the paranoid android – when people tell me that a whole new life awaits me, my response is likely to be…

“Not another one!”

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Castaway

Those who have read my blog since its early days will know that I often reference movies when talking about my own life and experiences… What do you want from me? I make films for crying out loud!

Anyway, today will be another of those, and probably a little less light-hearted than normal, but yes; the title does refer to the movie of the same name (The Tom Hanks one… not that Oliver Reed fiasco), and if you’ll bear with me I’ll explain why.

A couple of days ago we had a glorious, warm, sunny day here in England; very unusual for February. At any rate, I was so determined not to waste it indoors that I decided to go for a long walk and do some thinking. This turned out to be a very bad idea, because I was in a very good mood and the more time I spend thinking the greater the odds that I will think myself into a dark corner, and my mood (for reasons I am at something of a loss to explain) has been up and down like a Grasshopper listening to an REM mix tape this past month or two. Perhaps it’s a combination of extremely happy circumstances in one part of my life and depressingly frustrating ones in the other. Whenever you get a high, natural or otherwise, there inevitably follows an extreme low. What goes up must come down. Anyway, that’s beside the point.

The point is that I ended up thinking myself into one of those corners on a day which is normally my highest point of the year. Don’t believe me? Check this post from last year.

For most of my life I have been a victim of what my sister colourfully refers to as “The luck of the seven blind bastards”. This, as you have no doubt gathered, is not the good kind of luck. Rather, it is the kind that makes you the last one out of the bingo hall, and first away from the poker table; the kind that makes you a target for diarrhoetic Seagulls and vomiting toddlers. It is more or less the kind of luck that people in the middle tend to have. To give you a few examples: I was always “OK” at sports; never a “Jock” but also not quite bad enough at sports, or smart enough at anything else to be a nerd. I was never a gorgeous hunk, nor was I an especially ugly duckling. I’m a writer, but I am neither a blockbuster writing, Stephen King type nor intellectual enough to be a brilliant but struggling poet. One has money and success, the other, while never likely to set the world on fire, can at least touch the fluttering hearts of the opposite sex and move people to tears. No… I resort to comedy, and I’m not especially good at that, as this post will no doubt demonstrate as clearly as though I had written misspelled knock-knock jokes in 20ft high neon letters and then forgotten the punchline. So… I am an Antonio Sallieri. I’m perfectly ok with that; I mean the guy was a teacher to Beethoven so he wasn’t entirely un-influential.  The problem came when I realised my better half is a Mozart.

Now, before you start thinking I’ve gone all “Emo” on you, allow me to continue… because if there’s one thing I can do, given enough time, it is to find the silver lining around every single cloud. So, here is the point (I really mean it this time):

For the second time in 10 years I have left the comparative safety of the island on which I was marooned and, as I head into the mighty, unforgiving ocean and the tiny island disappears into the mist, I know I am now in very dangerous waters. I’m clinging to my makeshift raft, with a Portaloo for a sail, a dark ocean of uncertainty before me, and nothing to stop me from going mad except a punctured volleyball with a bloody handprint on it. From here on, I either make it back home or I perish at sea.

The problem with this analogy is that it rather depends on knowing where home is. You might not know how to get there, but at least you know what you’re looking for, and I suppose I failed so spectacularly, so many times before because I didn’t really know what I was setting out to sea in search of. Now, a few weeks ago I had the experience of feeling at home for the first time since I was a kid, but then something happened that made me question that, and this worried me. But now I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, being tossed about by storms and exposed to the relentless sun doesn’t have to be the death of you. Sure, I might be on a raft made of lollipop sticks and chewing gum, and I might not know where I’m headed… but maybe that isn’t so bad if there is someone on that death-trap with you; a companion on the stormy ocean. Maybe you’ll drown (or more likely be pushed overboard), or maybe you’ll avoid the shark attacks for long enough to find land. Whatever happens, the journey will not be short of adventure, and the night sky will be the most beautiful you’ve ever seen.

The reason I’m being optimistic about these things today is that, whilst reading my girlfriend’s latest blog post, I noticed something that made me look back at a much earlier post. I won’t explain what it was because that would detract from what she was actually trying to say (which was much more interesting to the reader), but it made me smile to myself and think Huh! Life really is strange and completely unpredictable. And no matter how dark things may seem “Who knows what the tide could bring?”

Assuming you didn’t kill yourself before reading through to the relatively happy ending of this post (and if you did that instead of simply closing the page, I’d say you had issues that I can’t be entirely to blame for), then I’ll see you next week.

I’m going now.