A little piece of me has evaporated. Two little pieces in fact. I have a new home which is occupied by two of us rather than four; there is a full fridge and no pile of shoes and coats in the hallway. I am in silent mourning for something that is missing yet still not far away.
A month ago we moved house. My husband and I have moved out of London to be near his new job and regain some equilibrium after wrestling with the rising costs and increasingly stretched infrastructure of the city. Our grown up children have stayed in London and rent a flat together with friends. It all sounds very practical and straightforward - it is. But after 26 continuous years of us all living together, barring my son's university years during which the ties with home still existed, we have finally gone our separate ways.
Our new abode is quiet and serene which is as much down to the location as it is the lack of occupants. There is no persistent traffic noise from the streets outside and people talk to us! Yes, remember that? Talking! Our new landlord left us flowers and a bottle of wine when we moved in and checked out our websites so that he knew a bit about us. On the day we moved out of London one of our old neighbours thought we were moving in!
Life is like a jigsaw, and most of us are making up bits of it as we go along. As somebody who 'wings it' on a regular basis due to a propensity to over commit and lack of time management skills, I rely very heavily on knowing my way around, what trains to catch and how long it takes to drive to particular places. I am very secure when things around me are familiar and am surprised by the effect that my new and strange surroundings are having on me.
I now live in a place which I have never even visited in my lifetime, except fleetingly on my way to somewhere else. There are no family connections and only a sprinkling of people that we know who live out this way. While I can counter this all with the excitement of discovery, the lack of local knowledge plays on my insecurity and I admit to missing the convenience of our former home.
I have had to find supermarkets, DIY stores, stationers, doctor, dentist, coffee shops and restaurants. Mostly this is fun but every now and then a wave of anxiety comes over me as a realise that I will have to build a whole new social structure after living and working in West London for nearly 30 years. There are no old haunts, just new vistas.
I had a panic attack trying to find a parking space for my car near the station to catch the train into town and I had to stop at the motorway services after a particularly long day at the office because I just could not deal with the fact that I was only half way home! The journey to my office takes well over an hour on a good day and over two hours when the motorway grinds to a halt. Fortunately this is not something I have to do daily but it will have to stop. There are only so many hours in a day and they should not be spent in traffic jams.
Then at home it's just the two of us, me and him. It was like this before we had the children and over the last few years, like most young adults, they were hardly ever home and led a more nocturnal life than ours. A line has been drawn and I don't think they will ever come back to live with us full time.
This is a bit of the jigsaw that might just be lost forever - a landscape with a hole in it. Bitter sweet because it will still be filled from time to time on high days and holidays. Our new home has many attractions for weekend visits with a river nearby, several pubs, castles, country walks and numerous outlet villages and shopping centres nearby. It does feel like we are on holiday except that we are both working and far too busy at the moment to enjoy it.
Jigsaws are created to be broken up and put back together many times over until you lose too many of the pieces to make the picture work any more. We can manage with the missing pieces right now. There are new horizons to explore and maybe a little piece of me has been missing too - I now have a chance to find a bit more of myself after 26 years as an integral part of a family unit.