You will be pleased to know that I own a bottle of Blue Sapphire gin and six bottles of red wine. The gin came from Tatiana, via Alexander the Great, and the wine comes from various sources -- my kids, who came to visit for my birthday, Elena, to whom I teach English. Joze and Marta. I did just have my 60th birthday and wine is the adult version of candles.
I made this inventory because today, Day 2, I've started the complex task of clearing out my cupboards. Yesterday's signature was on a rental contract for my next home. It is, however, a home with a difference...
I move on February 20th. Today is February 7th. Enjoy the countdown to a whole world of newness.
Surely, I hear you ask, what's so new about moving? I left the UK in 1999 to live in Greece, then France, then America, and now Slovenia where I've lived for 5 years and this will be Slovenian place number four! What's so new about moving?
And here lies the story.
Once upon a time there was man who married an American and went to live in America and slowly realised that America wasn't for him. He couldn't settle and became an unhappy man. Nobody wants to live with an unhappy man and after 8 years of trying to solve a problem that wouldn't go away, it was decided that the best thing was for him to leave.
That man was me, in case you're wondering.
Oddly, despite having been unhappy for years and wondering what on earth to do, the realisation that it was all over came as an almighty shock. I couldn't imagine a life beyond what I had and genuinely thought that the end was nigh. It took me three months to find a safe way to transport my old dog across 3000 miles of ocean and those three months were difficult for everyone. I had left, but I was still there, existing as an unfortunate presence like Kafka's famous insect. It was ghastly.
My brother kindly offered to put me up in his Slovenian house until I found a place and after a few weeks I was on my own in a tiny apartment in Bohinjska Bistrica with bunk beds, a couch and a shower. It was small but it was home. I was master of my own ship (although I referred to it as Das Boot) and for a year my routine was work and food and sleep and a bit of skiing.
I had no interest in a relationship because for years I had been in a slow-motion battle which was now, thankfully, resolved. The women of the village were beautiful, but so were the mountains and the lakes. All was beauty. All was calm. All was what I needed.
Apparently my sister-in-law decided that I had a broken heart and set about fixing it, but she couldn't have been more wrong. Sarah and I tried, and it didn't work, so we dealt with it. Now I was happy and she found someone who I'm sure is far more agreeable to live with, and it was the right decision.
I had a new life in the Alps. We should all have such problems.
Now recovered from trauma and upheaval, I would go to Sabina's cow barn to chat and witness the production of milk. It was on one such evening that a new arrival in the village appeared clutching an empty bottle and a small child. “This is Tatiana,” Sabina said. “She's arrived from Moscow.”
Tatiana stood by the eating end of the cow and smiled like a child. Hay was going in one end and milk was coming out the other and I guessed that Moscow isn't as cow-strewn as Bohinjska Bistrica.
From the tail end of the cow I looked at her and thought she was beautiful, as I thought so many people in this new life were beautiful, and after a while I wandered back to Das Boot, happy.
That was the first tiny shift in my new life and it happened about 4 years ago. Like today and my wine-bottle collection which is now in a box by the door, we do small things that are hardly noticeable but gather momentum toward the big move. I saw her in a barn, with a cow, and a small child, and an empty bottle, and I walked home very much at peace with the world.
It is 13 days until I move and there is much to cover in that time, so tune in tomorrow for the next installment.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things