Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
That’s how the past nine months have felt, like I woke up in a different body. It wasn’t just moving to another house, every aspect of life is so very different. Sounds, smells, food, the landscape. Had we not sold the furniture, there would at least be more of an air of familiarity. There was something comforting and homely about the small tear on the leather sofa into which I used to stick my little finger. There was a certain charm to the chandelier in the cupola room on which only eight of the twelve lights worked.
In this new life everything works. All the furniture is in perfect condition. The oven doesn’t sound like an aeroplane. The Louis XV chandelier has been re-wired and was put up a few days ago 1450 km away from its previous home.
I’m still trying to discover who this new person is, what he does. Being on a hamster wheel was tough but gave me purpose. I had to make X per year. I was expected to go to X events. I hosted X events. I knew that to keep the house going/presentable I had to do X. I didn’t have a single moment to spare.
Now I get up sometimes and just sit in one room, then in another. Then I take a walk in the garden. Then I sit down again inside. Then I work a bit. Then I repeat the process. It’s so odd not to have the pressure. I’ve never lived this way before.
I suppose little by little this feeling will go away. That as the house is more done, it’ll feel more like this is my life. The other night I woke up and in a state of grogginess thought “What in the world is going on? Where am I? It wasn’t my bed, my bedroom, my anything. Then it all came back to me. I’m not that guy in Southern Spain anymore. I don’t go out for tapas every week. I don’t buy the Navarra wine. I don’t get annoyed by the summer tourists from Madrid. There are no summer tourists from Madrid. I don’t get invited out to lunch all the time. Lots of I don’ts.
Figuring out the I do’s is less straightforward than I imagined.