Three weeks ago today I was pacing around my old home, observing a bunch of very willing and very hunky removal boys pack my things at record speed. By the time I swished out for lunch, 80% of my possessions had already disappeared into cardboard boxes. When I returned, only the bathroom paraphernalia and my bed were still in place. Today, I am writing to you from my new study, a 2.5m x 2.5m box overlooking the gardens, oak trees and rooftops of the mews just behind my house. You really would not know this is super central London.
I work with a girl, a fantastic change manager, who displays unequalled finesse in her understanding of human emotions. In our first Skype call after I pitched up here, she told me that it's quite normal to feel hard-done by and unable to bond with the new place, for each change that affects us needs to progress through a period of normalisation in order for its establishment to be successful.
In other words, new must become normal before we ourselves feel normal again. The day after I moved I wrote in my diary, 'I don't like the new house. It smells and I cannot find anything. I cried too'. The day after that I wrote, 'Went to Harrods and feel like myself again. That place can make anything better'. Six days after that I wrote, 'It's great to live here'.
By the time the first weekend was out, I had just about everything in its place, except for my books. Yes because you see, at my old house I found miles of built-in shelving, while here I have some in the study (duly filled with whatever came out of the first BOOKS boxes), but the rest of the house is remarkably stark, walls-wise. Now I have to figure out where the new Vitsoe set-up will go, how tall, how wide...etc...etc... and while this takes place, with a promised installation date 4 weeks from ordering, what makes me me is still mostly sealed in boxes. I have 15 here in the study, 4 in the kitchen, and I think another 7 or so in the guest bedroom. I can safely tell you that until these friends are all on display, I will consider myself in a Place of Transition.
My bedside table is virtually book-less (apart from the beginning of a pile of 10, all freshly bought at the local Daunt's, which is the same local Daunt's as before, as I moved only half a mile down the road), and I cannot begin to tell you the level of anxiety I experience every time I can actually see the bedside table itself, which is a pretty much an unheard of occurrence. I have actually considered to open a box at random and plonk its contents on the side of my bed. I will feel better immediately, at any rate that is what I tell myself, but I also know that there is actually method to my neurotic madness dear reader. It's not any book that gets to sit by my bed you know. That spot is bloody earned.
I realised that, apart from the oft-pedalled 'a book is an object before it is a story', a book is a route right out of this room to elsewhere, no matter where, a flight of fancy that turns my house into a museum, a farmhouse in Yorkshire, a townhouse in New Orleans, an apartment in Baker Street, Danny 's kitchen, London itself, a world of its own, the corridors of the uni; it is Canada, Peru, France, Russia, Italy, the US; it is Spanish, German, Latin, French, Italian, English; it is comic books, it is business, it is The London Library on Chelsea and Kensington; it is my home filled with millions of other homes and other people I want to talk to all the time, filled with images I see only through the eye of my mind or through the eyes in my head. All of these subliminal routes to elsewhere, and plenty more, are sitting right here in this room, in these boxes and I just cannot wait to restore a little bit of order so that their comfort is all around me once again.