I stood in the background, looking nervously at the van. ‘It’s quite small, isn’t it?’ I said to Bruce.
‘Well, it is a bit smaller than I imagined.’ He looked at me. ‘I’m sure it will be fine though,’ he said, trying to reassure me.
We spent what felt like 10 hours (it was about one and a half) squeezing the contents of my life into this tiny u-save van. The last bits were all awkward shapes. ‘Are there any boxes or regular shaped stuff we can fit into these gaps,’ Bruce asked. ‘No,’ I replied.
‘Damn.’ He took stuff out, put it back in, twisted it around and gave it all a good shove to make it fit. I watched nervously, hoping nothing would break and everything would survive the 4 hour journey. It’s only stuff though, I figured. But still. I want it to get there OK. It’s my stuff and I love it.
I walked back into my empty flat and realised that, once again, the physical contents of my life were in limbo, sat in a small van on someone’s driveway, waiting. All the single items that together, make up the backbone of my life, but by themselves are just things. Things that each have a special meaning.
I don’t think I’d quite taken it all in. The change in location, the buying of a house, the leaving of a flat I loved, the finishing up of a job, and the change in lifestyle this move will likely bring. I’ve been so concentrated on the practical things I’d not really thought about the emotional stuff. As I stood there looking at the empty flat, I felt a wave of sadness, but I wasn’t quite sure why. I knew living there was only ever temporary, so I already knew I wouldn’t be there forever, but I still felt sad.
It’s the end of an era. Just over 4 and a half years in Christchurch, and I only lived there because that’s where Mike lived, and then it was where I had a job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great there, but getting my residency earlier this year means I can choose where I live and how I live my life, and for some reason I feel an urge to cut the cord with Christchurch.
Why Reefton? One main reason – houses are cheaper there. The simple fact is I can’t really afford to buy in Christchurch by myself without taking out a huge mortgage, which I don’t want to do. My friend Emma lives there, and I’d visited a few times. It’s a quirky little town, with a really nice feel about it. The day after my birthday we were walking towards Broadway, the main street.
‘Let’s go and say hello to Linda [Reefton estate agent],’ said Emma, ‘I want to ask her about the house on the hill. We can say you’re looking for a house to buy.’
‘Well, I guess that’s not strictly wrong,’ I replied, although I’d decided to not look for a house to buy until the end of the year.
We peered over Linda’s shoulder as she showed us pictures of houses coming up for sale in Reefton, and one little cottage stood out. ‘It’s just this one, over here,’ she said, pointing out the window. ‘Look, you can just see the roof.’
Something about it intrigued me, and it was empty, so I asked her if we could go and have a look, given it was just over the road. Why not, I thought.
‘Oh my god.’ I said out loud as we walked through the door. ‘What?’ asked Emma.
‘I love it. I love it. Oh I love it, I love it, I love it.’
She laughed. ‘Yeah, it’s a great place.’
‘I need to buy this house. I’ll work out the logistics later.’
And that’s how I came to be standing inside my little red cottage, surrounded by my furniture (which did make it safely here, by the way), and a belly full of excitement for whatever comes next.