Well, it’s been a while. I’m sorry about that. As you might have guessed, what with working, it’s become a little more difficult for me to post as regularly as before. I’ll try to do better.
The other reason for my absence, however, has been the move to a new house. We’re no longer staying with W’s parents, and have a place of our own, and the move happened rather suddenly, it has to be said: all within a month of starting to look. So we’re both a bit shell-shocked and still settling in. But I haven’t forgotten you – I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to write in the next few blog posts. But you’ll have to wait a while to read about that.
Instead, I’m going to talk about space, and freedom.
I’m really grateful to W’s parents for hosting me for the last two years, but it has been something of a trial at times: not least because there were five grown humans living in a not very big house, and we all desperately wanted our own space. That did impact somewhat on my work, and when and how I chose and was able to do it. I still managed it, mostly, but I won’t say the situation was ideal in that regard. I had to be sociable, sit up with people when I wanted to be working, and brave the cold of the dining room if I really had to work late.
Now, however, we have an office. It is warm and cosy, cossetted by soft carpet and a view of the garden. We share it, but we’re both quiet people, who use headphones. We’re both able to have our desktop computers and a desk at the same time – a fabulous luxury, as before, we were living in W’s childhood bedroom, and so only one of us could have a fully functioning computer at any one time. So at one time or another, both of us have had to work on laptops and notebooks: never ideal, when both of our lives revolve around large quantities of words.
It’s quiet and dark in this office. I can put my headphones on and, if I turn on the small desktop lamp, I can imagine myself to be all alone in the world. It’s rather wonderful.
The trick, now, is to take advantage of this new found freedom. We can go to bed when we want, work when we want, and we’re going to have to learn how to use that in the best way possible. I suspect we’ve been too tired so far, but as we get used to the house and this new way of living, well, I am hoping later nights up writing will come.
You don’t always appreciate what you’ve got til it’s gone – an oldie but a goodie. I listen, every day, to students talking about how relieved their going to be when they finish, get a job and get paid. Some were especially vocal about it today. I said, to one of them, as she paid for her purchases at the counter, ‘I was a student for a decade. Trust me, you’ll miss it’. She nodded, abruptly, and one of her compatriots said ‘Only til I get my first paycheck.’ They don’t realise what freedom they have, perhaps because it is so easy to see your student years as a gilded cage – a honey trap based around study and poverty. With a job, with cash, they think, comes freedom. But I think they’ll soon work out that it doesn’t.
Because freedom, see, is only partly about money. Whilst I was a student, stipended or no, I had the freedom and space to do what I wanted to, mainly because it was given to me in one way or another, physically, psychologically, socially. I didn’t recognise that privilege – I took it for granted. With the move to our house, I’ve acquired some of that privilege back: a vestige of what I once had, I’ll admit, because work and living as an independent partnership make demands on your time. But it’s a vestige which I intend to use to it’s fullest. Freedom is about space, about opportunity, as well as cold hard gold. In this house there glimmers the edges of possibility, a quietude in which to sit, and think, and dream: a quietude in which to build a new menagerie of our own.