It has been a week of moments. Good things and strange things have happened. The inhabitants of the capital city, Ljubjlana, decamped from their city homes and came up to the mountains to play. Every other car has a registration plate beginning with LJ.
This building with its 10 apartments has been half full all week, a strange comparison to the three weeks of silence that Tyson and I have become accustomed to. As I type, small children are on the third floor banging things together to test, or so it seems, the Mormon Tabernacle acoustics of this building. Their parents are trying to stop them, which simply adds to the noise.
Tyson has been perfect throughout, simply looking at me whenever things go bump in the night, then settling down again with a resigned and unimpressed sigh. To be honest, it's the construction of the building and my lack of experience with apartment life that causes me to notice these sounds. The people who own these apartments and who come to visit on weeks such as this (half-term) and very nice indeed. Meeting them transforms intrusive noise into the simple sound of neighbours going about their business. As the week has gone on I've become quite comfortable with community life. And no, I haven't actually heard a bump in the night. It seems that Slovenians go to bed early or creep about after dark.
Today marks one month since I moved in. This week, Gregor the landlord came around for the first time. It was arranged that he would come around on or about the 20th so I could pay him the monthly for the internet and electricity. He gave me copies of the bills and we signed receipts and then chatted about skiing. I continue to like him, and he made a fuss of Tyson. When the landlord makes a fuss of your dog you know things are going well, and I ticked this first visit off my list of major events.
Another major event is money, and the other company I work for has issued its first payment since I took up drawing again. It's heading for Slovenia even as we speak and that payment firmly establishes this new life. The landlord's visit, a significant first payment, one month of Das Boot and surviving the influx of neighbours, these are big things on my list and they gave the week a profound significance.
So did Adele.
I'm going to tell you this not to gain your sympathy. I don't need it. I live in the Alps and I can work without leaving the apartment. No, I'm telling you this because I am a writer and writers need to examine life's little oddities to make us better writers.
I was in the supermarket. I had bought some vegetables, some ground beef, some pasta. Near the pasta one can find spices in those typical plastic shaker pots and I felt it was time to expand my herb and spices collection to more than just salt, pepper and chili powder. I grabbed some paprika, some basil and went for garlic. Which one was garlic? I made a guess based on colour but while other spices had similar names, nothing looked remotely like the word garlic. Inspiration struck and I went to the vegetable section, whole garlic bulbs, checking the name on the label. Garlic, you will be interested to know, is Chesen. Just at the moment of discovery I heard Adele on the supermarket speakers. Someone Like You. I heard:
"Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too..."
...and instantly, embarrassingly, I began to cry. It came out of nowhere and was devoid of build-up or mitigating circumstances. I said 'shit,' and I squeezed the plastic handle of the basket to maybe distract my brain. I had to seek refuge in the relative safety of the ice-cream section, and the mark on my hand from the basket lasted till I got home. I hadn't been sad, I hadn't been thinking about Sarah, my marriage, my former life. I had been shopping for garlic and Adele reached out from nowhere and tore me to pieces. It's not even a song I know very well.
Apart from the horror of people thinking I am so intimidated by shopping that it makes me cry, I fully recovered as soon as she stopped singing. I have thought about it long and hard, and two things come to mind. Firstly, the idea of two people breaking up and still wishing the very best for one another struck me as the saddest thing. Anger and resentment is so much easier.
The second, more powerful thing -- the thing that reached out and punched me so hard, was that I had spent the week ticking boxes. The final pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place this week. The landlord, the money, the mysterious neighbours who turned out to be nice. I have ticked all the fundamental boxes now. And then, happy that I had even mastered the problem of buying food in a foreign language, those words came out clear as a bell. They are saying Goodbye. Shit.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things