Moth balls

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The other week, after a particularly hard day teaching about the Industrial Revolution, I lay on my bed watching the moths flitting around on the ceiling. There were 15 in total. That’s quite a lot of moths. Hold on, that’s a hell of a lot of moths. Oh god, I have moths! Hauling myself off the bed I leapt towards the wardrobe and frantically started pulling all of the clothes out. More moths and fur, lots of fur.

At the back of my wardrobe was my mother’s silver fox fur. I’d kept it because it smelt of her, not because I wanted to wear it. Sometimes, when I felt particularly nostalgic I would hold it and sniff it’s musty smells of Givenchy No5 and mum. Now it was in tatters, filled with moths, hanging, like road kill, in my wardrobe. I threw it on the floor and quickly followed it, weeping inconsolably. It just proved that I couldn’t look after my mum’s stuff.

She was an only child and I am too and one of the things we are really bad at is sharing. Mum had some really nice stuff. I remember looking at all of it as a kid and thinking “Wow, she’s kind of glamorous.” She didn’t really let me touch her things. She always said I would break them or damage them. So, when she died, after I’d recovered from the initial shock, I was fairly excited to finally get my hands on her sewing machine and fox fur.

The sewing machine was the first thing that broke. I tried to use it and it actually burst in to flames. I’m not trying to make a comment on the afterlife here, but you have to admit it’s ironic that the machine I wasn’t allowed to use for textiles homework caught fire the first time I tried to use it. And now the fox fur was decimated. I felt the full weight of failure on my shoulders. I Googled moth infestations. A useful mumsy website suggested that freezing would kill any larvae, so I promptly stuffed what was left in to a rubbish sack and rammed it into my freezer compartment. It made me feel a little better.

The thing is the fur is still damaged. The sewing machine is still scorched. Despite my best laid plans and reverence towards them, those items are ruined. It made me wonder about the clutter that we collect. The mementos, the trinkets, the things that we hold dear, that chunk of Berlin Wall or shell from that first date on the beach. Where will they end up? In a charity shop, in a moth infested wardrobe, maybe placed on display as something we owned, holding someone that we love back because we once treasured that item and they treasured us?

Just like these objects, we hold on to emotional baggage that holds us back. That moment when you freak out because your new boyfriend wanders off at a gig because when you’re old boyfriend did that you knew there would be a whole heap of trouble. Or not wearing yellow because someone once told you that it made you look washed out. Not doing that thing that you always wanted to because you failed the first time or got turned down or didn’t feel so confident the last time you tried.

I think I might just put the remains of the fox fur in the bin, it’s in a bin bag already. And so today’s moral; don’t let your fears or past experiences hold you back. Do what makes you feel right, not what you think will please or appease others.

Sliding doors?

I remember watching Sliding Doors and thinking “Yes, it could work, but life is what you make it.” I was naïve.

Up until that point I’d followed the tenets of life as it was required and expected. I’d bought a house, I’d been engaged. I’d found a steady profession which I thought would see me (sadly) through to retirement, I’d adopted a cat. Life seemed as normal and ordinary as any visit to B&Q on a weekend with the other masses of homeowners looking for the right bathroom tiles. Yet, something was missing. It stayed missing for 10 years, until my “Sliding Doors” moment.

A moment of empathy is required here. I need you to picture for a second that you have been driving around the Mid West of America on your own, separated from your boyfriend of 6 years, spending your days in the desert or amongst holiday makers, avoiding rest stops that looked like you may get assaulted, yearning to get home to a warm, loving embrace at the airport. Got it? Now add in a facetime conversation where your love tells you that he can’t meet you at the airport because he’s going camping with his buddies in the New Forest. Then throw in the desperation of worrying about how you’ll get home, combined with trying to feel “fine” about the whole situation, because that’s what you’re expected to do. Not the most amazing Heathrow moment.

I got home, moved out, moved in to a flat and then sat on my own for a while. The boyfriend dumped me by text (better or worse than a post-it, I’m not sure). It was at this moment that the sliding doors moment happened. In the depths of my self loathing and questioning a friend from 20 years ago invited me to her wedding reception!

The main thought in my mind was that 20 years earlier I had been thin and interesting. Now I was a fat, 30something, teacher who had just been dumped by text. Not the best mindset. Two amazing friends came to the rescue, taught me contouring, made me cocktails to take, spilt lots of blood and sent me on my way to the wedding.

That wedding? Sliding doors moment. If I hadn’t gone to that wedding I wouldn’t have my house, my social life, my friends, my partner and (hopefully) my new career in copywriting. One evening made all the difference. When I consider how close I was to walking away and not going because I was embarrassed by who I perceived myself to be, I shudder.

And so time for another moral: Other people don’t see what you see, so never be embarrassed of who you are….ever.

Why blog?

When I was 9 I had a firm image of where exactly I wanted to be when I was 35. It was 1989, so you’ll have to forgive the terrible fashion choices, but I was working in London, in stilettos, with a perm (my mum never let me have a perm) and there were shoulder pads. Lots of shoulder pads. At home, I had John Nettles (from his Bergerac days), tending my two perfect children in a beautiful, double fronted, Victorian villa. Oh, and I could buy anything I wanted from the Kays catalogue.

Flash forward 16 years, I’m a secondary school teacher, I’m too fat to buy anything from the Kays catalogue if it existed now, I’ve never had a perm, I stopped wearing stilettos because I really hate that burny feeling you get after wearing them for 30 minutes, John Nettles no longer looks like he did in Bergerac and, while my boyfriend owns a lovely, double fronted, Victorian villa, I don’t live in it. Oh, and I’m being made redundant. And the redundancy part is quite important, because suddenly I’m going to have to make a massive change. I understand that people do this all the time, they have children, move abroad, climb mountains, lose important limbs, but for me, this whole redundancy thing has made me question exactly where my rent money comes from.

I need to make it clear, I wasn’t sad about being made redundant. I mean, I shed a tear at the idea that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent and that the warm, cosy, secure blanket of permanent employment was being ripped off me in an angry and unwelcome wake up call, but I wasn’t sad. Instead I’m trying to embrace the opportunity. This blog is dedicated to all of those people doing the same thing and those who wish they could. I figure that if I’m going through this, then others are too. Every post will try to end with a moral, so here is today’s; if you want to do something, do it, don’t regret that you never did.