The man with a van arrives tomorrow and I haven't packed a thing yet. Oh, yes I have. Six bottles of wine and a bottle of gin, which I did on day 1.
I don't have a great deal of stuff but I do have some things that are too big for the car, hence the van. He might as well take it all. I'll then be here for a day and a half and I can get down the to real job...documenting it in amusing daily snippets.
Which brings me back to the end of the past, if that isn't too tortuous a phrase.
Tat and I set off for the seaside to collect her Dad. We discussed the seating arrangements -- she drove down there, and I would drive back with her Dad in the passenger seat with Tat leaning in to interpret from the back seat.
We stopped when almost there to collect our thoughts. "It'll probably be a bit like a job interview," she said. Yikes. I haven't had one of those since about 1985 and I didn't get the job.
He was staying at a nice little apartment in Porteroz, and Tat went inside to ferry out his gear and I waited outside wondering what might happen. And then he appeared, a broad smile, hand outstretched before him and I thought wow, I like this man! I immediately felt comfortable. I'm not sure what I was expecting but I wasn't expecting such a positive greeting.
On the way back the interview began, and over the course of the next 90 minutes I answered questions such as "Can anyone interpret Dostoevsky or Shakespeare without reference to the Bible? Will Russians and the British ever be equal? What should be on every child's reading list? Why did English become such a dominant language? Why write books in the modern world?
I enjoyed it, I have to say, and when we got back here I invited them both inside for tea despite having only two cups. They sat on the balcony while I made tea and Tat said one of those things that makes me laugh and he laughed too, not because he understood it but I caught his expression. His daughter was laughing. With me. And it was good. Yes, he has opinions about how life should be and it's sometimes caused Tat some problems but at the end of the day all fathers want their kids to be happy. That trumps everything. When he left he shook me warmly by the hand and asked if he would have to learn English or will I learn Russian? That was a very positive comment, and later, Tat wrote to me and said, "You've got the job!"
Now she calls him my mate.
Later in the year her mum was finally granted her first passport and came to Slovenia. I met her, liked her, and all the pieces were in place. We were happy and good and all we needed now was to...well...do something about it!
She had been looking at house rental ads for over a year but there wasn't anything suitable. Price, size, location, all wrong. By the end of 2018 I thought we'd never crack that little problem and we'd trundle along for ever as we were, seeing each other twice a month. But at least we were solid and everyone knew what was going to happen. Sometime. Probably.
For simplicity, I had remained a kind of secret over the past 3 years. I didn't write about us. I didn't tell the world when we went to Venice, to Salzburg, to the Grand Hotel in Budapest, to my son's wedding, or even to Corfu where we went last summer. I wanted to, but I couldn't.
I certainly was a secret to the neighbours because people talk and the stories are never very accurate. One of those neighbours was Don, the man I went to see way back in the very first week of 2016. He used to live up a mountain but had sold his house and now lived within spitting distance with his adopted Slovenian family. Technically he was a neighbour and therefore couldn't be party to the tale. Now of course, he could, and at Christmas I told him all about it. He said he was pleased for me.
More than that, he actively threw himself into the house-hunting business. He has a Slovenian friend who manages properties and therefore has his ear very much to the ground. Don contacted him and he swooped into action and I ended up going to see the History Professor from Ljubljana University. He inherited a house and had been trying airbnb for a year but it was hassle and not much income. He thought maybe long-term tenants would be more cost-effective.
The house is near Bled, the tourist trap with a lake and castle and whatnot. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a basement and garage and garden. It isn't perfectly decorated which means that he's happy for plenty of cosmetic changes to be made. The rent is good. All in all it seemed like exactly what we were looking for, apart from it being slightly too far away from the schools in Bistrica.
"I shall drive them!" I said, heroically. Well, maybe not so heroically because she works Monday to Friday and gets up at 5:30am for a long drive, while I mostly watch youtube and eat chocolate. I even told her that if we didn't do it this year I'd leave her for a younger woman. This was funny because there aren't any, but it worked. I said I loved the place and two days later Tat and her oldest daughter joined me for a viewing. There were lots of smiles and plans and excitement and all in all, this was going to be the place to begin what had started in a cow shed at Sabina's farm, then that magical moment in the bell tower on New Years' Eve, I had known then that she was the future.
I signed the contract. I move on Wednesday. Tat and the kids move on Saturday. Her parents arrive for a month too. I shall be in a house with six Russians, of whom only two and a half speak English.
That is why I want to write about this new phase of my life, because it's going to be unlike any phase yet (and there have been several). My life will be completely different and it cries out for daily updates! I shall start tomorrow. Today me and Tat went to Italy to IKEA and had a wonderful day, as we always do. We've been buying stuff for our home and it's all rather...lovely.
From here on out, it's live. I hope you tune in to see what life has in store for us.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things