How many times in your life have you moved? I’ve lost count myself. Between places in Canada, France and now England, the changes pile up. The bother of it all is not so much changing location as all the stuff you have to sort through and arrange to move. Packing up is the worst. Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is a challenge. Sometimes you have no choice and have to leave it all behind….most of it anyway.
Moving from Canada to France back in the 1980s was particularly difficult. It took months for my stuff to get there and that was by air. I had to hire a van in Paris and pick up all the belongings at a customs depot in Charles DeGaulle Airport. There’s an experience, I’ll tell you. Especially when you are a Canadian in France and hardly speak any of the language. The French just expect you speak their language because you are in a bilingual country that includes both english and french.
Funny thing about that. When I had finally learned enough french to get by, I was working in Marseille. A French Canadian guy came from Quebec to work for us. The French employees came to me to translate what he said into french. Turns out the French Canadian dialect is stuck in old France and sounds like nonsense to French people in France. But I digress….as usual.
I hate moving. Let me rephrase that. I hate moving stuff. I don’t mind a change of location, but I don’t like having to sort through all the rubbish I’ve accumulated when it’s time to pack up. If that weren’t bad enough, you have to unpack when you reach your new destination. What to keep, what to get rid of, these are the causes of trauma, frustration and the feelings of loss. Especially when you wish you had kept that old pillow or book or chair. Not to mention the memories made in the old place….all the good ones.
I remember the first time I moved out of my parents’ house (home). Moving into a one bedroom flat at Jane and Wilson in North York (Toronto). The great feeling of independence that lasted all of a week or two, buying new furniture and putting on a new coat of paint. But then I had to cook for myself. A lot of take-outs (take-aways) let me tell you. And pizza deliveries. The stuff of a single man’s dreams. For a while.
Moving out of the old neighbourhood can be dismaying. Saying goodbye to old friends and neighbours, if you know them, is not easy. I’ve said my sayonaras a number of times. A few people I’ve gotten to know in a couple of those places are no longer with us. Life has so many twists and turns. I have never been able to keep up with them. The best I can do is hold on to the good memories of each place and the people who were at those moments of my journey.
Before I get too maudlin, and I do tend to get that way sometimes, let me just say that each move I’ve made tends to be the right one on hindsight. I wish there were not an ocean between myself and my children, but the move I made back to the land of my birth was the right one for me.I have done all the things I’ve wanted to do….except playing on stage with Eric Clapton. Moving to the boat from a house has been the best move yet. I love being on the water when I go to sleep and when I wake up.
And it is very comforting to have a permanent place in a marina with the facilities needed to live well. You know, a laundry, electric hook-up, water tap to fill our water tank, a pontoon and so on. It’s also a close-knit community where everyone helps everyone else and share their rum freely. Captain Morgan’s Spiced Gold please. One neighbour brought a Brazilian rum back from a recent trip and gave several of us small bottles of the elixir. Saving it for a special occasion.
The great thing about living on a boat is that when you do move, you take your home with you and everything in it. You can also choose a new permanent mooring in any of the many marinas dotted along the canals of Britain….provided they have a space. Most do at the moment. In the two years we’ve been on our narrowboat, we have been in one marina beside the same pontoon. Happy as clams.
Then it happened. Time for a change and thus another move. Not sure how it began. Another neighbour, Kevin, he of Morris Dancing fame, took his boat up the cut to another marina to get his boat blacked. That’s the process by which the bottom of our boats are coated every few years with a black bitumen to prevent erosion of the steel haul under the boat. The idea came to mind….why not switch places?
But then came another question….why are we doing this? Because we can and mostly because Kev agreed to the switch. And also because we end up sharing Eddie’s and Mimz’s pontoon more than we used the one we were on. I’m sure my best friend has better answers than that but I haven’t the time or energy to ask, so there you go. We simply changed places.
So, on a day that was breezier that I’d like, I untied where we had moored for nearly 2 years, move the boat out into the marina and manoeuvred the boat to the left of the old pontoon to back it into the new spot. Easy peasy? Not with the strong breeze it wasn’t. The wind kept trying to push me into the boats on the other side of the marina. But I gunned the engine toward the back wall then slammed into reverse and went hard toward the new pontoon. I gave it a glancing blow but Eddie was there to pull me out of trouble with my boat rope.
The boat glided back into the new slot, tied up, electric plugged in, engine off. A successful move. The shortest move too….but not the easiest. Wind is never a narrowboat’s friend. And the good thing is….no packing, no unpacking and no loss of friends and neighbours. Not a bad day’s work.