We left all that is familiar to us 48 hours ago and drove out of our home in Northern Ireland for the last time in Mirabelle, our new motor-home. I am writing this on the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead having spent our first couple of nights in Mirabelle – one in a layby near our friend’s house in Newry and the second in a campsite on the beach just outside Dublin.
We are slowly getting used to life in Mirabelle and our new living space which is smaller than any of the bedrooms in the house which Eoin, me and our 2 dogs, Samson and Delilah, have shared for the last 4 ½ years. It is compact and pretty cosy when shared with 2 large dogs and I am glad that they are only travelling with us in it for a week before they go to stay with friends in the Dordogne for the rest of September.
The dogs seem to be feeling a little like we are……discombobulated is the best word for it! Everything is new, everything is unfamiliar and every time we stop and open the door of Mirabelle the dogs step out into a new world. They have led very sheltered lives since we rescued them both. They have lived in the same home, with the same garden, the same walks and the same smells for the last 4+ years. They haven’t travelled, they haven’t visited other peoples’ houses, they haven’t been in a motor-home, they haven’t stayed in a campsite and they certainly haven’t been on a ferry. They are off their food and Delilah is seeking constant reassurance.
I am feeling much the same as I ‘unplug’ from the life which we have just left. All our normal daily routines have disappeared and I still haven’t adjusted to the daily move from one place to another. I am still getting used to our compact living space and trying to find ways to make it easier to live comfortably in it. My body is getting used to our new bed. I am a light sleeper so I am easily woken by Samson’s vocal doggy dreams, car doors banging outside, people chatting around us and Delilah barking every time she hears a noise outside. At this moment in time I feel hung-over even though no alcohol was consumed last night. Sleep deprivation has that effect on me. I am jealous of Eoin who has just sat down beside me on the ferry and gone straight back to sleep. He has the gift of being able to sleep anywhere regardless of what is going on around him.
I wonder how long the discombobulation will last for and how soon life on the road will be become the new normal for us? Eoin and I are both incredibly adaptable people which is part of the reason that we knew that we could embark on this adventure. Much and all as we like our routines and our creature comforts, we have both moved house many times before and, more recently, we have spent a lot of time house-sitting for others so we have had to get used to new spaces quickly. My guess is that within 3 more days we will be fully settled into Mirabelle and our new way of being.
The present discombobulation has been building up over the last few weeks as we reduced our possessions by about 2/3rds. Since the start of the month we have sold 3 cars, 4 sofas, 3 beds, 3 wardrobes, dining tables, chairs etc and we have sold or given away an enormous amount of other furniture and belongings. We all felt the impact of the chaos that comes before any major change as we walked into rooms to find them emptier than they were the day before or walked into the driveway to find a car gone!
I have had to keep reminding myself that chaos always precedes reorganisation. Everything has to go to a point of chaos before it can reorganise at a new, higher level and that is exactly what is happening in my life right now. But chaos is not comfortable and I am not so good with it. I like order. I like to know where everything is. I like the familiar. I think most middle-aged people slip into this way of being too. That is why it is so easy to get set in our ways and to stagnate a little (or a lot). But I also know that I thrive on change and moving out of my comfort zones and I know that I have to accept the chaos for the reorganisation of my life to take place.
So, a little like we are doing with the dogs, I am constantly reassuring myself that all is well and being as gentle and compassionate with myself as possible throughout this transition. I am actively choosing to focus on the excitement of being on the road with my best pal/lover, having the proceeds of the sale of our home in the bank, a fantastic motor-home to live in, heading to my beloved France and all the adventures which we have ahead of us.
As a young woman of 17 years old I left Belfast to start a new life in London where I only knew 1 person. At the age of 19 I headed off to Australia for 6 weeks on my own. When I was 23 I left for Geneva with a one-way ticket, about £250 in the bank and the dream of doing a ski season (but no job). I returned nearly 2 years later having been round the world and had amazing adventures. When I remind myself of that I know that I have got this covered!
Middle-aged Jenny may be tired and discombobulated right now but Jenny the young traveller and adventurer is super-excited about it all so I am actively choosing to focus on that part of my personality as I relax into all the change and uncertainty.