After 40 years, time to move on, on ‘Black Friday’, the 13th

Colin Campbell anticipates closing a front door for the very last time

ANY date in the calendar where Friday and the number 13 coincide is of note to the more superstitious among us. But this time round this particular “Black Friday” the 13th is imbued with particular significance for me. Around midday I suppose I’ll have a wander through the house, pausing for a minute or two in the kitchen, and in the bathroom, and in each of the four main rooms, just looking in a 360 degree turn at four blank walls, then take a deep breath and head for the front door, which I’ll close behind me for the last time, after 40 years.

 That’s a long time. It’s the best part of a lifetime. And that final departure is coming, very rapidly. And even now, as I write, I don’t know quite how I’ll deal with. In fact I haven’t a clue.

 Just think of the place as bricks and mortar and nothing else? It’s a house. So what. It’s an address on a street, and I’m moving to another address on another street, “downsizing” as they call it. Man up and move on, without taking a backward glance as I go.

 Or close my eyes in those final few minutes and be overwhelmed by a cascade of memories tumbling down from every corner of every room, and if I shed a tear or two, well that’s only natural.

 I don’t know. I suspect there will be no tears, and there will be no display of manly fortitude either. I think as I leave I’ll just feel a bit disoriented, and rather numb.

 I haven’t lived here all of those 40 years, when the house came into the family, but for most of them. So much has changed over that time. I’m four decades older, for a start.

 But I suppose the predominant thoughts in these last few restless days has been of the people, the family, the relatives, who once sat and chatted here. So many of them have moved on also. But not to new addresses.

 Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful events in life. I’ve found it is and it isn’t. There’s certainly a lot of hassle on many fronts and your focus is dragged away from the uneventful, routine, “normal” events of daily life. In the lead up to departure there is no such thing as “normal”.

 And, of course, the longer you’ve been in the one place, the more abnormal it becomes. Even watching television from your comfy, familiar seat, well, from absolutely nowhere comes an unsettling flash of realisation: you won’t be doing this for much longer.

 And I won’t be sitting writing at this desk for much longer, either.

 So moving house is stressful, and can feel very strange at times. But you can’t begin to compare it with, say, receiving a diagnosis of a very serious illness. That, as everyone’s favourite politician of the moment would say, is piffle.

 And I would say that I’m glad I’ve lived for so many years so close to the busy, beating heart of Inverness, and not in one of those expensive little boxes thrown up by developers in new estates devoid of character and community facilities. On the outskirts of town entire hillsides are covered with them. And now I see developers are eyeing up green space to build 5,000 more.

 How big does Inverness have to get? How big do we want it to be?

 But when it’s time to downsize it’s time to get on with it. I possibly wouldn’t be fit or capable of handling it in five or 10 years time. Don’t leave it too late.

 I’ve made the rather odd but I believe reasonably accurate calculation, based on average use, that I’ve opened and closed that front door around 180,000 times, give or take.

 Well very soon I’ll be opening and closing it for the very last time. Time to move on after 40 years, whether smiling with head held high, or struggling to hold back my emotions. I don’t know but I’ll soon find out, on Friday the 13th.

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