Moved into action

The kitchen in my new home. Can anyone find the kettle?

I think of myself as someone who doesn’t readily worry about life’s curveballs and if obstacles cross my path then I will find a way to overcome them.

But I have been pushed to the limit these past few weeks with the challenge of moving house. It is said to be one of the most stressful life events that we have to face, and boy has that proved true this time. Although I have a large support network of friends and family, it has still been exceptionally challenging.

I wonder if it is because I have been ‘triggered’? This is the expression that is in common use now to explain why certain experiences can spark in us what might seem to others a complete overreaction. But the reason we do that lies in some past trauma that has been dormant in the subconscious, something we have managed to bury in the hope that it will never be exposed to daylight again.

But then, BOOM! The memories of that trauma erupt when we are confronted with our trigger. It could be a smell that reminds you of a childhood drama, a piece of music that transports you back in time, or the repetition of the experience that caused the trauma in the first place.

Is the reason that I am finding this time so stressful because it has triggered memories of being forced to move out of the family home six years ago? Last time I moved it was after I had fought tooth and nail to stay in the house we loved following my divorce, but in the end it just wasn’t possible and I had to sell.

Our house sold quickly to a lovely couple living in a rented property with cash at the ready. I naively thought that because I was going to rent and a chain was not involved that it would be a fairly straightforward process. Silly old me. The solicitors on both sides seemed to have a deep seated aversion to communicating with their clients, never mind each other. Finding a new rental property was nigh on impossible without a moving date, and the solicitors seemed unable to fix one. Eventually, after months of procrastination for no apparent reason, I got so frustrated with the lack of progress that, against the advice of my solicitor and estate agent, I contacted my buyer directly. She was equally frustrated and we had a very reasonable discussion about when to move, and between us agreed a mutually convenient date which we took back to our solicitors.

With the date set, I was able to go in search of a home. I booked a removal company for that date and when they asked me where I was moving to they thought I was joking when I said ‘I don’t know, probably somewhere in the York area’.

A frantic search followed where I was on the property apps first thing every morning looking for any new rentals that appeared. In and around York, the good ones were being snapped up immediately, and the fact that very few would allow dogs meant the available pool was even smaller. I was barely sleeping with the worry of it all.

It was a Tuesday morning, just 13 days before moving day, that I spotted a beacon of hope. A three-bedroomed house with a secure garden popped up that looked like it would fit the bill. The listing said there would be an open day the next Saturday for potential tenants to look round. But I simply could not wait that long. I begged the agent to phone the landlord to let me view before then. By a stroke of luck, he was at that every moment inspecting the property and said I could go and see it immediately. I raced round and, without properly looking at it, blurted, “I’ll give you six months’ rent upfront. Can I have dogs?”

I don’t think I’ve ever felt relief like it when he said yes and, six years down the line, despite the tricky start, I can honestly say we ended up being very happy in that house.

So as I reflect on that experience, typing this among the unpacked boxes in our new home, I’m sure that when the dust has settled, we really are going to be very happy here too.

Read more at Follow me on Twitter @countrymansdaug

This column appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on 7th and Ryedale Gazette and Herald on 5th October 2022

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