I'm sitting on a big old wrought iron chair, on the edge of the beautiful English garden that belongs to a woman who has been an incredibly good friend to me. I finished the novel I had been using to get me through these tricky days of transition and so came outside with my laptop and coffee. Jenny, the King Cavalier spaniel, is keeping me company.
Like me, I suspect she's enjoying the early morning cool. Yesterday Surrey hit 36 celsius and no one was ready. It was the worst day to move house but it was done. Accidentally ... as you do.
The days have tumbled by lately, with an impetus similar to a mountain stream falling down a mountainside, if I try to describe it. Days so full of good people that I'm not sure I can write of everyone. But perhaps if I work backwards, starting yesterday. Perhaps if I write a series, before I leave for Italy next week …
Yesterday and my Australian friend, Clare living in London, arrived to take away and store as many of my books as she could. I have a habit of losing the best of my books when I divorce and move countries. Just twice but I'm a woman who loves the idea of living a lifetime with her collection of books. The Universe clearly has other plans.
Clare also provided transport for a load of my possessions. We took them to Cathy's, where I have some space in her garage for those things I wouldn't mind keeping, if I can work out a way.
Evening fell and I realised I had left the place I've been living these last 7 months.
Last night was spent out here in the garden, with Cathy, James and Alexandra.. A BBQ dinner, and them patiently teaching me how to play cards. I was so quietly deeply happy to be there, on the edge of this truly special family.
It has almost been a year since I left Belgium. Marriage over and without a country, I wanted to stay close to my daughter and Miss 12. Kim suggested I arrive in her world and set about making it happen … as it turns out, I was quite incapable, in some ways. More devastated than I realised, and far more broken than I knew.
It's been a year of deep change but I like who I'm becoming. I'll leave England so much stronger than I've been, in years … in every way.
And stronger because of the friends I've always had, but also because of the new friends I've made. For me, I see how it has been all about people. Friends, and strangers, who have picked me up, dusted me off, and been incredibly kind. Generous. Understanding. And welcoming too.
I woke this morning, in a beautiful bedroom and, for the first time in a long time, I felt peace-filled. Sitting out here this morning, I felt safe enough to cry … and had to smile. I've been so busy moving forward, surviving, that there hasn't been too much time for self-pity. It would have crippled me some.
Today, the first time I've felt normal in a long time, and I wanted to cry. I had to mock myself a little … ' Di, you need life to be a struggle so you can stay strong?'
I didn't cry. I think I'll just weave that recognition of struggle in with all the rest and keep going forward because forward movement is surely the best thing.
It turns out, I have too much luggage for Italy. I, the queen of 'take only what you can carry up and down stairs' in those train stations, wants to take too much to Genova.
My other 'rule' is based on being able to walk away from possessions. Clearly I have tried to keep too much this time and so today needs to be about stripping away the excess, again. I'm in the right place. I know people in Oxfam, and there's a refuse tip here. It's time to go back to bare bones. I thought I had but no, not quite.
As mentioned before ... have lost 16kgs in England, or 30 pounds … which sounds so much better :-) None of the clothes I bought with me from Belgium survived that weight loss. I was so fortunate to arrive in a place where quality secondhand clothing cost so very little. Today, I may have purchased an exquisite, truly exquisite, Laura Ashley skirt for 7 pounds.
Silk is the new Di ... it's amusing me. I don't know who would recognise me from those other lives I've lived. Not Christine and Peter Kirker, from those airforce days when I favoured the long baggy jersey, with jeans, look. Not my Belgian friends, some who worked so hard on getting me out of that habit of dressing in black ... Marcie:-) Not my Turkish friends, who mentioned my hippy taste ...
But I'm loving it all. Dresses, beautiful colours, and silk ... and so very inexpensive despite labels like Monsoon and Zara now appearing there in my ... suitcase.
But suddenly it's tonight. I stopped writing here earlier, to repack and reorder those boxes stored in the garage. Then went wandering with Cathy, zapping about the countryside in her daughter's Mini ... dropping stuff off at the dump, leaving other stuff with Oxfam, eating lunch somewhere in Surrey staring with E.
And it's tonight ... there's a massive pavlova sitting here in the kitchen. My best ever ... perhaps. There's a glass of wine in front of me. Fish is frying, salads are ready. We're feasting outside again.
I'll leave you with a photograph of Jenny, my lovely breakfast buddy ...