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On a moonlit swim, I dreamt of my new home

On a moonlit swim, I dreamt of my new home

Life is all about learning to make the right moves.

My mantra, over the past few years, has been: I have options. Options for how to respond, how to conduct myself, where to put my energy.

I saw that my landlady was phoning me. Which is never a good sign. There’ll be something she wants from me.  

I answered, and listened in disbelief as the carpet was yanked from beneath me. She was giving me two months’ notice. She was moving back in.

In shock, I said I’d get back to her and hung up. Again? Another home? This would be the fourth time in five years that I’d be moving house.

From my beautiful ex-marital family home to a modest and lovely little flat with my oldest son, back into a family mansion with the ex and the kids during lockdown, then to this cottage near the sea, this place where I have been most happy.

When I moved here it felt as if I was cresting a hill in my life, that the sunlit uplands and their swaying grasses were smiling back at me. And now? 

I would have to reverse things. I would have to press rewind and watch my life unspool in the opposite direction. This takes an enormous amount of energy.

Pictures off the wall, nails pulled and holes polyfilla’d and painted, books and shoes and bathmats and bicycles and potplants and bottles and food and plates and pots and chairs and beds and cupboards, tools and tins and all that junk in the garage from the last place. I shuddered.

There is no way around this, I realised. I rolled up my sleeves. Even if I like to say that everything is temporary, it can feel theoretical. But it is very consoling.

This is not my house. It has simply been my home. My hesitation to express myself too fully in this space had been wise. Even if I slowly oozed myself into its corners, even planting the garden, it was never mine. Time to go. 

I resigned myself to another search, and the prospect of a cavalcade of crates and boxes and a hired trailer, sore muscles and sweaty t-shirts, messy chaos.

I would not think of unpacking on the other side, as I could not imagine where I’d be. I would have to embrace the chaos, and go with the flow.

I would find a solid home that would ground my daughter as she navigated the rigours of Grade 11, and a place for me.

I’m a homebody. I need to feel settled and secure. I need to be able to hear the quietness. So there is plenty at stake.

I would need to be strong, and find a source of steady strength. I managed to locate a belief deep within me, that I would be okay, no matter what.

The belief that there is a place, perhaps an even better place waiting for me. That there are many such places. I just needed to move in the right direction. It would appear, if I did the work.  

My mantra, over the past few years, has been: I have options. I always have options.

Options for how to respond, how to conduct myself, where to put my energy. I decided that this was another opportunity in my life – and I have already been blessed with so many – a chance to grow, to move, to feel alive and once again to celebrate this short and uncertain existence. I have options.    

I put out the word in my community. Within a day, option no. 1: a small two-bedroomed wing of an old Cape Dutch house, overlooking the vlei, for a very cheap rent, owned by someone who had tired of AirBnB’ing it.

I went and met her. And decided to carry on looking. The thing with searching for a property to let or to buy, I’ve discovered, is to be organised. When an opportunity presents itself, I can pounce.

Paperwork: copies of my ID, bank letter, references. The house I’m currently blessed to live in, for example. I was first in line. And gently persistent to get there. No texting an estate agent for me, no no.

You have to call, sympathetic to their schedule, their life and incessant fielding of enquiries from people like myself. A measure of patience and compassion is essential. It’s a relationship that you’re wanting to form, not a transaction. 

Something popped into my mailbox. A weird looking Tudor-style mansion. I made an appointment. Not even sure if I should go. It looked a little wonky. But I was first in line, again. And it was fantastic.

Cheaper than my current home, a massive flat built in another era, with sweeping views and cavernous rooms. The next morning I signed the lease. And so, the start of a new chapter. 

In the last week in my current home, I’m appreciating all the things I’ve loved here. Last night I swam in the sea under a full moon. I was alone on the beach. A moment in time, before the moon changes. 

I have no idea how long I’ll live in the new place, and what hidden challenges lurk there. What will the neighbours be like? Will I be happy? I guess that’s up to me. I think I will be.

Sean O'Connor

Change expert, Sean O'Connor, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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