Which, by the way, consists of neither tearing anything from my guts or pulling anything out of overcoat pockets. It's simply too much thinking, too much time spent phrasing and compiling in my head and not enough of the "screw it, let's just write something" that might lead to either gut-spillage or pocket-pulling-outtage.
Was it Madeleine L'Engle who said "Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it"? (No seriously, was it? I've always thought it was, but perhaps it's really Wordsworth.)
So here we go. The precipice is before us and leaps are about to be taken.
The two kids, my fella, and your correspondent moved house three times in a year (my last entry was right before the second of those three relocations, when Move Numero Three wasn't even on the horizon). And that, folks, was the breaking point. A combination of positively ridiculous/downright medieval tenancy practices here in the UK combined with a local housing bubble that tempted all landlords to kick their tenants out and sell up left us living in a village quite close to mid-Cambridge, very close to friends, local places, and everything we needed, for the exorbitant price of £1250/month, not including council tax or utility bills. (When I convert that into dollars it makes my head spin. Easily over $2k month shelled out before we begin to address the cost of food, clothing, entertainment, phones, car insurance, etc. To compare, when I moved from Tennessee in 2011 I paid about $600 in rent and never topped $1000 in monthly expenses).
At the time, there didn't seem to be any other option than to keep moving, keep renting, keep paying through the nose. I was working a very cushy job that afforded us the luxury of doing this, but the madness kept creeping in. A recent article
No way. As of last week, the cheapest house in Cambridge was a £250,000 dump in Cherry Hinton--not the nicest area of town--that was listed as 'needing plenty of TLC' (the second-cheapest accommodation available for purchase was a dingy flat at the stunningly low price of £175,000). After nearly four years of seeing friends and colleagues constantly struggle to find a room or flatshare, never even dreaming that they might one day own a home, it was clear that both buying and renting in Cambridgeshire are concepts utterly detached from both sanity and financial solvency. So, move to a different city, right?
Nope. My eldest is enrolled in a fantastic autism specialist school, the fastest-growing in the UK, and in the year since he was accepted there has made such fantastic improvement that I'd happily live in a cardboard box under the freeway if it meant he could stay in a that safe, stable, thriving environment.
Lucky cardboard boxes aren't necessary! My partner and I came up with what seemed like a brilliant idea. Why not resist the lie that is the poisonous renting/home-owning dichotomy and temporarily live in a caravan? We'd already met a local organic farmer who allows long term caravan park-ups on his field, complete with solar power hookups and shower/toilet facilities. Our expenses could be paid with the wages the fella makes, and if we lived very cheaply we could bank my salary so that in two years we'd have six figures saved--enough to go buy an acre or two and begin building our own. Genius, eh?
Something pithy about mice and men.
A combination of visa and employment woes has well and truly scuppered this plan. Instead of moving off grid in mid-June, we're now scrambling to get out from under our rented house which will become impossible to afford when I change jobs. Now, I reckon finding out that you're about to lose your main source of income, coupled with impending homelessness, would be the breaking point for most folks--but not us. There have been hard days, sure, but we have a dream of homesteading and we're sticking to it, even if the road from A to B seems impossible. (Can't walk it? Build a hovercraft!) The upside to all of this is that we had a plan to majorly downscale and strengthen our frugality muscles (which are located for me in the bra area--left cup to be exact--where I regularly keep my debit card) which meant that we were already on the lookout for a caravan. And remember that friendly farmer who was going to let us move onto his land in June? He's happy to welcome us as soon as we find a van to live in. Which brings me to...
Well. We haven't named it yet. But here she is.
The newest addition to our family is very tiny, and I'm going to be the first to say that she's too damned tiny and we will need to find a bigger one as soon as possible. On the plus side, she's in excellent condition and was sold to us at an extremely low price by a chap who must have been lobotomised to have offered her for about a quarter of the going rate.
Also, he had arguable taste in interior design but we'll let it slide.
My son's bedroom, which is the smallest of the rooms in the house we currently occupy, has more floor space than what will be our entire home for the foreseeable future. It's not even about getting rid of clothes and toys we don't need--my fears at this moment involve where, for example, will I store the pots and pans?
Also, I have fears about that zebra-print couch and other fears about pooping where people can hear, but that's a post for another time.