About a month ago, I wrote here that quite a lot needed to change. I wrote that as a dare to myself, really. A threat or a promise. I was poised to do or not do something. I wanted to push myself off the cliff, and if that failed, pick up and try something new.
So I talked things over with CM and did the thing, and now I can tell you all that we will be leaving London and moving to Newcastle – or the general vicinity thereof – in the new year, because I got a new job.
I didn’t just get a new job – I got something of a dream job. The kind of job where you read the description and requirements and realise that, inadvertently, over the past seven years you have managed to tailor yourself to exactly this role. The sort of job I’d hoped to get while I was slaving away over my MA and working in a sandwich bar and at a local newspaper (during my BA, of course, I was still leaning towards the job title ‘super successful author’). I got a job at a magazine that I have been subscribing to for years. A prestigious women’s writing magazine that I’m not naming here because a) I’ve never named my place of employ in this blog before so I don’t feel comfortable starting now and b) though they’ve offered the job, and I’ve accepted, and all the official stuff is underway, I keep having to reread the emails to believe that it’s happening and that I didn’t just hallucinate the words and part of me worries that if I name the place on here it’ll all vanish. I am, I realise, going to have to shake this fan-girl sense of awe in order to get on with my work, but for now, let me dream.
The dreaming has to be done now, in the earliest days, because although this feels absolutely right, and even though I am the best levels of nervous and excited, and CM and I have sat and listed all the good things about moving away from London (there are a lot), people keep reminding me what a huge change it’ll be. What a massive move. It didn’t feel that way, actually, until people started saying it. But the reality of getting from point A to point B is sinking in.
Though we’re lucky enough to have help with all this at both ends of the country, in reality the few sentences that outline our plan so simply are the placid duck floating along the lake of life while underneath it the legs of my mind are paddling madly to achieve any kind of movement. (That was awful, awful. I’m so sorry.) If you know me in person and I talk to you about it, I will be the very picture of calm and assured, but I promise you, the thoughts are whirring, so be gentle.
We know there will be stress and strain; CM and I will undoubtedly have a few fights while moving; of course we are worrying about shifting furniture and where our final home will be and making new friends. We’ve been in the same flat for six years; I’ve been at the same company for 7.5 years; this is a major upheaval. But a good one. Frankly, if we can just get a place where the roof doesn’t leak and the kitchen ceiling doesn’t threaten to collapse every year and with no over-head neighbours that play Phil Collins, that’ll be a step up.
I am sad to leave behind all my new-found friends at Word Factory (though I will be back whenever I can afford it!) and my current job where I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with fantastic people and been given so many opportunities. I’m going to miss all my London friends. But life was getting stagnant, and London economy allows very little wiggle room.
So I can’t wait to check out the writing world in the North and become part of it, and to properly meet my new workmates, and to reconnect with the family and friends who I have barely seen for years because the sheer distance meant it was difficult, and to have easier access to hills and woods and clean rivers and seagulls crying outside the window.
We’re up North now, for Christmas, and yesterday the dogs found their first ever hedgehog. It bested them, of course – they couldn’t figure out the spikes at all and took to stamping next to it and yapping, then bouncing back out the way in case it moved. I haven’t seen a hedgehog since I was a kid on the Isle of Man. Seems like a good sign.