Sevilla is a long drive from Salamanca, but in Sevilla our hotel room has two windows which open out onto a shaded lane and four single beds for three people. We are pleased after the Glade-infused three-bed room in Salamanca.
My, but the Alcazar was amazing. Lacy stonework, mosaic floors, and even the irrigation channels have Arabian mystique. At eleven o’clock when children really should be in bed but ours seem never to be these days, the roof of our hotel (painted white, full of terracotta pots planted with aloe vera and geraniums, studded with low-slung chairs which I think did not come from Ikea, and lit by soft uplights) was cooled by a cooling breeze and was bloody lovely. We looked at the spire of the cathedral for a while, then went to bed.
Last night, when we were on the roof, youngest boy said, ‘Tomorrow can we just stay home all day?’ By which I think he meant, ‘Do we have to look in any churches tomorrow?’ Yesterday afternoon, before we realised the guidebook was wrong and the cathedral had in fact closed for the day, we said, ‘Right, let’s go and look in this amazing cathedral’. The boys both said, ‘BORING’. I said, ‘Don’t be a cliche, we’re better than that.’ I was the only one who laughed.
I have about half an hour before everyone else is awake and we’ll be off to find an over-priced, poor-quality breakfast before we go into the Cathedral to marvel at gold and paintings and the tomb of Cristobal Colon. And then we’ll be off to our house where the internet hasn’t reached.
So this post might not say exactly what I want it to say…oh, and be warned, of all the steps along the road, this is the most pitiful, the most self-pitying of all, but enough with the excuses…let’s begin…the Road to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (part two)
Moving to Abu Dhabi, it became pretty clear pretty quickly that this ‘adventure’ could rate as one of the biggest mistakes of my life. A mistake I had made with my eyes wide open. I’d been to visit the place. I’d met wth other people who had made the move. I’d had wise counsel from friends. Through all of this, my heart and my brain and all of my senses had reservations. Every step of the way, they asked of me, ‘Are you sure?’. And yet, I kept on going. Passports, school applications, sifting through the books. Certainly I acknowledged those reservations, I discussed them, some of them I even twisted into ‘good’ things. As in, ‘oh, living with/without this/that/the other will be good for me’. Ridiculous, and not a little patronising.
What a goose.
As I came to live with the reality of the move, two factors came into play. Firstly, the balancesheet of pros and cons became less of a concept and more of a living document. Here, I need to be a little coy, because obviously it involves the mister and his inner workings too, and if he wanted his inner workers on the world wide interwebs he’d have his own blog complete with google cache. You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that together we decided we would move to Abu Dhabi. Together we visited schools and weighed up the overall pros and the overall cons and together we decided that overall, the overall pros were greater than the overall cons.
I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I say that there were probably categories of factors. Some factors affected us as a family, some affected only the children, some only the adults, some only an individual. And I also don’t think it would be giving too much away (and if it is, well, I’ve sort of already given it away over the last few months of blogging anyway) to say that of all the individuals, I would be the one who had the least to gain and the most to lose.
Which I was fine with. You don’t have a substantial relationship of any kind without such times. So, yes, I was fine with it.
And then we moved.
I started to dwell on all that I had lost. I started to remind myself over and over again that in moving away, I would not be able to promote my novel (not that I would’ve been asked to sit in shopping centres and so on, but even before we left one enormous opportunity slipped away). I’d given up my place on the Amnesty international council meeting delegation. I was lonely. Far, far away from my friends and my small, but significant family, I was more lonely than I had ever imagined I could be. I gained things too – like simple, undistracted time with my quickly-growing children, that was a definite gain – but for a little while there, I stopped looking at the gains. Entirely forgot they were there. Because look at what I’d lost. That’s all I could see.
Secondly, I started to feel that in moving, I had been cowardly. I started to feel – to believe – that I had ‘agreed’ to come not because it was an adventure, but because it would let me run away from a great many things. Leaving Australia had let me hand over some work projects that were starting to get too hard, that I was feeling too tired to finish. If we were away, I wouldn’t need to face any bad reviews of my book or my friends who read, but didn’t like, my book. What did I know about attending international meetings anyway, I would’ve been exposed as a fraud within the first twenty minutes. And if we were away, well then, I would not have to have a 40th birthday party. Now. I know how pathetic that particular thing sounds, but six months away from it and the thought of a 40th birthday party made me quake and shiver and burst into tears. People would come, and they would be nice to me, and the thought, the very thought was nothing short of exhausting. You know, on account of who wouldn’t be there.
So, there I was, sitting on the 17th floor, looking out over this incomprehensible place, breathing in the constantly conditioned air, thinking of all that I had lost and all that I feared, and feeling lonely.
This was not a good mental, intellectual or spiritual place to be, and I could feel myself sliding back towards the couch and a life I am determined not to live (again, coyness, on account of this being the internet).
And so…with registrations for the Fringe still open, the idea of finishing off my script and staging the show in Edinburgh began to form as the silver lining in my year. Here was something I could do. Something that would be interesting, challenging, exciting, fun. And, importantly, it was something I would not otherwise have done. If I had been living the year I had been planning to live then I wouldn’t have thought that going to Edinburgh was something I could do.The money, the accommodation, the children’s time – from Adelaide these were such insurmountable goals that I really believe I would never have entertained the idea of going to the Edinburgh Fringe. But from Abu Dhabi, they were all things I was going to have to deal with in August anyway (staying in Abu Dhabi being completely out of the question as I’ve said). I could sort them out in Edinburgh as easily as I could sort them out anywhere.
I had to force myself to pull the script out of the drawer, and the start was slow – just a few red scribbles with green arrows on a piece of butcher’s paper one day and some purple texta on post-it notes the next – but I remember the exact spot I was standing and just what I was wearing on the day the mister came home and asked, ‘How was your day?’ and I answered (honestly), ‘Good’, and then said, ‘So, do you think this is funny?’
And so, as an idea, the more I thought about going to Edinburgh, the better it got.
Part Two’s End.
(Told you it was full of self-pity, but I promise you, that’s as bad as it gets – I think part three is about writing and getting things written and we all know how that never gets self-pitying)
And PS: I wrote this last week when we were in Sevilla, but couldn’t post it partly because the wireless connection was a bit dodgy and partly because I didn’t get it finished, so I had to do a bit of work on it during the week and post it tonight now we’re back where the internet does reach