Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Emotionally complex is the best way to describe the moment. It feels like arriving at the summit of my existence. Not in the sense of success or failure, just time. I can look back and vividly remember where I was born. Not actually being born, evidently, just where it happened. At the same time I can see the other end, having just bought the house in which I’ll most likely take my last breath one day.
It feels dramatic. I watch most people around me and there seems to be more of a process, a progression. They buy a house, then a bigger and better house; maybe eventually a weekend place on the beach. They get promoted, climb the professional ladder. My life just is. No real ups or downs, only very occasional steps sideways.
I’m obviously partly responsible for this, as I dislike change- that, and I’ve always had a very clear sense of what I wanted. I don’t always know how to achieve it, or the details; but certainly the gist. By 23 I was in essence who I am today. “Married” and setting up Villa l’Africaine. For my generation it’s somewhere people normally only get to in their mid-thirties. For me it was almost fifteen years ago.
In two months and three days I’ll be 37. That’s supposed to mean I’m an adult man. Being called monsieur all the time is a constant reminder of it. It didn’t happen in Spain. At best I was Don Eduardo at the bank. Don sounds rather glamorous and debonair, and as it goes with the first name, young. Monsieur ages me, it sounds so serious and formal. Especially when older people use it in reference to me.
I don’t really feel like an adult. Mike tells me no one ever does. We just get progressively better at hiding our childishness (or not, in some cases.) But technically, all the evidence seems to be pointing to the fact that I’m not a boy any more. Long time partner, property, lots of paper signing. Financial planners talking about my ‘future’.
“What are your plans for the future?” They say it as if they’re asking where you’ll be spending your next vacation, but what they really want to know is if you’ve put aside enough money for a Stannah-Stairlift and subscribed to one of those horrible pay-for-your-own-coffin plans. I don’t want to plan for the future, I want to press the pause button, but I can’t seem to find it.
Anyway, I’m spending a lot of time focused on the new house. Staring at the floorplans, trying to decide what goes where. I’d love to start buying furniture, but I’m not buying anything here to then have to have it shipped south. I just have to be patient and wait until we move in, which is still a bit over a month away.
I didn’t think the transition period would be so emotionally draining, but it is. It doesn’t feel like a vacation at all. It’s more like limbo, sitting, watching paint dry. I terribly miss having my kitchen, my bathroom, my closet. And we’re used to having a lot of space. The cottage is cute, but only 90m2, our living rooms alone added up to considerably more than that. The kitchen is tiny. Like something from an aeroplane.