Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

A week of two halves

I’m in the middle of a strange week, bookended as it is by my wedding anniversary on Monday and Ex-Husband’s wedding on Saturday.

I’m not really bothered about either event.  I’ve moved on. I’m happy. My life is full of interesting things.  Except, kind of, I am.  The date of my wedding anniversary is burnt into my brain.  Every time I wrote the date on Monday, there was a spark of recognition followed by a little sinking regret and disappointment that things didn’t work out how I’d hoped.  And while Ex-Husband’s wedding is nothing to do with me – two people I don’t really care about entering into an ill-advised union – I realised yesterday that I hope he has a horrible day and spends it thinking about the people who aren’t at his wedding, all the friends he’s lost by behaving like a dick.

So when I say I’m not really bothered that he’s getting married, what I mean is that I’m choosing not to be interested.  I decided to forgive him, to let it go, to walk away from the hurt he caused me.  And that takes practice, and sometimes it needs a bit of patching up.  I am way past the grief I felt at the time.  But like a scab which itches, or a broken bone which heals but aches when the weather is cold and damp, sometimes I am reminded more strongly of the scars that I think will always be with me.

Still, while the girls are away being bridesmaids, I’m having a pretty good week.  Yesterday I went out with a friend for curry.  Tonight I’ve been for a run and watched West Wing.  Tomorrow I’m going to the cinema and on Friday I’m going climbing.  And on Saturday, I’m going on a mystery coach trip with my friend Karen.  We considered crashing the wedding in giant hats and offering up reasons why Ex-Husband and his girlfriend couldn’t be lawfully married, but decided an adventure would be more fun.  We’re getting a coach quite early in the morning to an unknown destination.  We’re spending the day there, going on the coach to an hotel, then on Sunday going to a second mystery destination.  It could be amazing.  But even if it’s terrible, I think it’ll be that kind of so-bad-it’s-hilarious story which can be more fun in the long run.  I am very excited and considering only ever going on mystery coach adventures for all my future holidays.

So, the juxtaposition of remembered grief and eager anticipation, the contrast between what is now and how things were, gives me a sense of hope.  I know I’ve surived this far, and grown and flourished, and that I am surrounded by good friends and I think, I’ll probably be ok.  Even if I do feel wobbly from time to time.

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Adventures into a Brave New World

On Friday I cleaned out my bathroom cabinet, removing burnt-out candles, packets of Gavison which expired in 2011, emptied tubes of stuff, baby nail-scissors, plasters which are no longer sticky and baby shampoo we no longer use.  Into the space I managed to fit all the things which were lurking untidily on the shelf behind the toilet (apart from a few months’ back-copies of the Saturday Guardian magazine.  I recycled those), making my bathroom an almost-pleasant place to be.

Yesterday I tidied and cleaned all the work-tops in the kitchen – washing all the bits and pieces which can’t go in the dishwasher and therefore pile up on the side, and all the recycling which was waiting to be washed and thrown away, and tidying away toys and felt-tipped pens and bits of plastic wrapping which was hidden under the felt-tips.  My kitchen now looks quite peculiar: if you stand in exactly the right spot it looks shiny; if you stand anywhere else you see an oasis of tidiness in a desert of mess.

And today I sorted through all the things attached to my notice-board, removing party-invitations from two summers ago and Small Girl’s hospital wristband from when she broke her leg aged 11 months (now aged 4 years old) and a pile of letters from school, and vouchers and coupons dating back to 2011 and recipes I haven’t cooked since I cut them out of a magazine two years ago, and can therefore probably assume I never will.

I’m not sure quite what has sparked this fit of tidiness, but it feels almost like nesting.  In late pregnancy with Big Girl, I decided I couldn’t give birth until I had cleaned all the skirting boards in my house, my reasoning being that lots of people would come to my house and might judge it not fit to keep a baby in, and that I would probably not have chance to clean them again for a while.  I don’t know about the first point, but I’ve definitely not cleaned most of them since.

I’ve not been hiding a third pregnancy, no matter how much my children would like me to provide them with a baby.  But it does feel like there are new things coming.  It’s the start of the summer holidays, so much more time at home with my children for the next few weeks, and opportunities to potter around tidying (while my children create mess in other parts of the house).  And in September Small Girl starts school, which means I will have child-free Fridays at home. I have romanticised visions of myself using this time to create a clean, calm, well-organised home, shopping for the food we need for the week ahead, changing sheets, hoovering and tidying and sorting laundry, trailing domestic bliss in my wake.  I want to get ready for that, even if we all know I’ll really be binge-watching West Wing for the six hours between dropping the girls off and picking them up.

And I’ve recently been doing some more dating.  I went on three dates with someone who turned out to be a local councillor for a party I have spent my entire life viewing as the source of all – well, most – evil.  Despite this, I liked him very much.  I also went on a date with a single dad who had far more compatible political views and had a very pleasant evening, but nothing more.  It’s been interesting to see what a range of people are out there, and try to work out what I’m looking for.  And comparing how I feel now to how I felt last time I tried dating, 18 months ago, I feel ready for a relationship.  I feel slightly more able to trust people, and willing to give up some of my free time to spend with a boy if I like them (apparently these things are crucial to having a successful relationship).  So while I’m not planning on changing my domestic habits to appear more attractive to a men (and let’s be honest, no-one with a real thing about tidiness is likely to go out with me), I would like my home to reflect the best of myself rather than the worst.

I am realistic about this.  I will get bored.  I will make a mess. I will end up shoving everything in bags and putting it in the cellar, until I am unable to get into the cellar to read the meter, find the car seats or get out the barbecue.  Eventually I will just brick up the door to the cellar, like Henry being shut up in a tunnel because he didn’t want to get his shiny paint wet, and in a hundred years’ time it will be discovered by a future owner of my house, who just thought there was something peculiar about the shape of the kitchen.

But until I get to that point, I’ll see how tidy I can be.

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Raging against the machine. And trains. And everything which is not exactly how I feel it should be.

I was looking forward to my Quaker meeting this morning.  I was eagerly anticipating the silence and seeing friends, and had planned to do some useful shopping while I was in Manchester: stabilisers for Small Girl’s new (to her) bike and some running shoes which don’t let water in.  And I’ve missed quite a few Meetings recently due to failing to get to the train on time.

Well, today the train failed me.  I arrived at the station on time, having got up early and got ready, only to find ‘cancelled’ on the display screen next to my train.  I felt outraged.  No apology, no explanation, as if it acceptable to just cancel trains – and my train at that! No replacement service and apparently no understanding that with only one train an hourto Manchester Piccadilly  on a Sunday, this constitutes a serious inconvenience.

I realise, eventually, that my anger is probably not entirely reasonable.  I dislike change.  I particluarly dislike unexpected change which is outside my control.  I perceive it as some kind of offence against the natural order of things: the unfortunate cancellation of a train becomes a breach of a social contract which almost cannot be borne.

Once I realise the problem is mainly in my head, I try to reshape my day.  No, I’m not in Manchester experiencing silence in my soul as I had hoped.  This is not a disaster and perhaps the day can be saved.  I can go to the nearest Halfords to get stabilisers – and also wander around looking at Bike Things.  I love specialist shops which sell a range of things that I didn’t know existed, and had never imagined people might need.  (I read Bikenomics recently and am now a little obsessed with the idea of becoming a cycling family.  I’m not sure how long this phase will last).  I can do a lot of that tidying and laundry-sorting and washing up which wil make the rest of the week run more easily.  I have been to the park and looked at some ducks and I’m about to sit on the sofa and watch an episode of West Wing, which is like having a very undemanding social life.  It’s not a spoilt, ruined and wasted day, just an unexpectedly different day.  I hope to train my brain to understand this eventually.

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