Ten Years After
Ten years ago, I moved into the Celestial Tortoise Loft, my housing-association flat here in Shrewsbury town centre. (You won’t find that name on the map, but that’s my name for this attic appartment under a mansard roof.) I’d had the keys for a couple of weeks by then: moving things in, cleaning the place up, but 6th October 1999 was the first night that I slept under my very own (rented) roof.
After fifteen years of living in furnished rooms in other people’s houses, the delights of having a bathroom and kitchen all to myself and my own living room made me giddy with joy. I’d lie on the floor and just stare up at the high ceiling and all the space, just marvelling at it all.
After ten years, the Tortoise Loft is still wonderful. Oh yes, there have been problems now and then, but the feelgood factor is still there. And now it is home, with room for my books and craft materials and all my other clutter, comfortably liveable, familiar, my retreat in bad times, my anchor-point in good.
That’s the view from my bedroom window at 6:45 this morning. Wet streets, hardly anyone around. I am so lucky to be here.
The last few weeks have been rather mixed. My ‘half-a-job’ of 18 hours a week came to a sudden end, and I am unemployed again. So I’ve been doing the merry rounds of the Jobcentre, the various employment agencies. It’s very bleak out there. I hope I can find something before too long. I hate filling out application forms, interviews, the stress of it all.
Meanwhile I have been using some of my unexpected free time to start on a big it’s-not-exactly-spring-is-it? clean of the flat. Long overdue sorting out of boxes of papers and bits and pieces. Things shoved in boxes from when I started to become too ill to deal with them, a couple of years ago, overfilled cupboards, general chaos.
I’ve made a huge improvement here aleady. I’m no longer worried about people seeing the state of the Tortoise Loft. Yesterday I had two friends here for lunch, followed by a walk around the town. We ended up sitting in the warm sunshine on the terrace at Theatre Severn, watching the motes of light dancing on the river and thinking how good it was to be able to sit outside in October.
And now, with the rain lashing the windows on a dark, chilly evening, I am here at the computer thinking how nice it is to sit here inside, in my own space which is personal, private and yet connected by the internet to the whole world. Wonderful times. Here’s to the future.