Out of the city.
Creating a new life.
If you’d told me when this all began that it would end up with me leaving my life in the city to find a new area, a new home, new job, new friends, and so on, I’d have told you to get stuffed. Mostly because I wouldn’t have wanted to believe that could be the outcome, rather than because it wasn’t true.
But it’s not just the stroke that’s got me to this point.
If you haven’t worked it out already, I live in London. I haven’t named locations much before for various reasons, and I probably won’t blog on where I’m going either. It’s a security thing. London is an unusual place. There are big, huge jobs here, and very expensive housing. It’s brilliant, and there’s also lots of free things to do. But it’s not sustainable for me in the long term.
Even before the stroke, I had a plan to move out of the city “at some point”. At that time I thought I’d commute into town for work for many years before finally bowing out of city life completely. But it hasn’t turned out like that.
As you know, I left my job last April. Exactly three months after I returned to work (part-time at first) exactly three months after my stroke. I’ve never gone into the whys and wherefores, but it’s what happened, and I’ve been finishing an MSc and doing a bit of freelance work since. But the house I rent is being sold and it’s time for me to create some lifelong stability for myself. So I want to buy a house.
In London houses are expensive. Even with the brilliant salary I had before I was only ever going to be able to buy a cupboard in a location I liked or a small flat in a place I didn’t. To buy a two or three bed house with a little garden means making a big move. And I need that security. And I need a full time job to pay for it because that’s how one gets a mortgage. While my brain works again as it did before in thinking and doing capacity, I do find a need more control over my hours and pattern of work than before the stroke. That doesn’t mean I don’t work as hard nor that I work any less hours, just that I need to be able to have a little control over them. For example, if I have two full days of meetings and/or presenting/coaching/training big groups then I need the third day to be a very quiet one. I can still work but I’m not going to be able to repeat the previous two days that day.
Now, if you’re about to say, “Well I’ve never been able to do that, so now you’re just normal like everyone else,” – please don’t. I might shoot you. I’m so sick of people saying that. I might have always been your normal but it’s never been mine. And it’s my normal that I measure everything against, not yours. Sorry if that sounds harsh but after the 100th person has said it you just stop explaining….
So. The idea is to move out of London. Rent a place while I find a job. Get a job that’s a bit more provincial (and therefore hopefully a little more controllable than the 24/7 on call job of before). Buy a little house. Live. I know, it won’t be that easy, but I’ve worked out that even if I lost a big chunk of my old salary, the combination of my London-sized deposit and drastically cheaper house prices means it’s do-able.
I move on 30 June. For the following few weeks I’m going to take a holiday at the very beautiful and mercifully empty flat of an amazing friend in a seaside town. And then make the move to the final destination.
Oh, and I was thinking, should I turn this blog into a book in the few weeks that I’m there? I don’t know. I can download all the content easily enough…
There are two significant stories that are missing from this blog. The first is about a boy, and the second is the real whys and wherefores about why I left my job and what a cock-up one, or perhaps two, individuals who called themselves HR professionals made (needless to say this wasn’t my boss nor my boss’s boss, who were both 100% fantastic). Never before has it been so satisfying to be able to answer the statement, “Well, you obviously aren’t clear on the HR law around this,” with “Actually, my degree is in HR and I worked in this very department for some time before you arrived,” been so bloody satisfying.
Like I said, there was a lot I didn’t feel I could blog about! In some cases it was things weren’t my prerogative to share (Liz Jones anyone?). With regard to leaving work, I didn’t want to taint the innocent, and I wanted to retain my ability to rise above it all and preserve my relationship with an organisation – and many people – that I love. But, in hindsight, the work stuff was actually pretty outrageous and, besides, I might have a way to keep it relatively anonymous… maybe.
Anyway, I think I’ve decided I’m going to write it. Mainly because I’ve been asked to, and the boy surprised me a great deal by saying he thought that I should.
Whether I do anything with it afterward, well that we shall have to wait and see!
Wish me luck with the move!