The Space in Between

Hey guys, it’s Flo.  As the dust settles with my indefinite move to Toronto and the holiday celebrations have come to an end.  The sun has set on another year, a new one has dawned and as a result has triggered some introspection in me.

2016 has been an eventful one, with the last few months being very strange. I’ve been too busy to even think about much and have been operating on auto pilot; working like mad at the office then suddenly stopping. Straight onto attending various Christmas parties, packing up my life, saying goodbyes, getting on a plane, and then arriving in Canada to the open arms of my family.  The manic nature of London is behind me, but there’s no rest during the holidays. So it was straight onto family reunions, loads of food and merry making with friends.  Now, just under two weeks into life here and I’m only just having some time for reflection.

I feel like I’m in this weird timeless vortex.  The strange and quiet space in between the start and the finish.  The midway points that we eventually forget about years down the road when someone asks, “So whatever happened that time when you (insert activity here)”.  Months and years from now our answer would be the end result of whatever venture we were taking on at that moment in time.  I compare this phase to the messy part of a refurbishment of a home from the original space it was (starting point) to the polished completed bit you see in the glossy magazines (end).  In interior design this is the part you don’t really want your clients to see because there is a lot of chaos. The building has gone through a demolition phase; floors have been ripped up, the ceiling has come down and the wires of the former lighting layout are exposed. Most of the surface elements like the floors, wall finishes, and loose furniture that you identified with the original design have been dumped into the skip. What is left is a reminder of what was, existing only in photographs and memories.

Through experience, I know this can be an unpleasant and emotional part of the process for the client, and as designers we do our best to soothe their nerves with promises of an amazing new home that “will change their life”. In this case, I’m the designer and the client and my idea of home for the past nearly decade has changed with the promise of a new home that “will change my life”.

Why do we form an attachment to “stuff” and “things” we surround ourselves with in our lives? Inanimate objects in which we have collected over the years. Is it because we’ve used them to assist us in our creation of our personal identity? Or do they provide us with the security in society that ownership of such objects gives us so we may have something to show for our time on the planet.  That plant that we once received as a gift from a friend with whom we no longer speak…our relationship with the plant lasts longer than the relationship with that friend. Or that set of wine glasses that remained stored in boxes for those special occasions.  Too fragile and precious to use for just any occasion.  Or those awesome jeans you fit into years ago that your ass looked amazing in you still hold on to for the day you lose 10 pounds and fit into again…..

Why do we feel the need to attach ourselves to these lifeless objects that hold meaning to only us?  I got rid of most of my “shit” as I like to call it, before I got onto a plane to Canada. As I sifted through it to sort what to chuck and what to keep, it brought back memories.  I had a lot of my ex-boyfriends stuff still mixed in with mine. Mostly old paperwork we had submitted to the Home Office to get the last visa I was on.  My undergrad and MA degrees in hardcopy format, years and years of old pay slips. I was shocked to see some of the numbers I was making those years.  Such shit pay!  Binning this stuff seemed to put things into perspective for me.  I’ve had some amazing experiences which I can remember without going through the tangible, but I also saw how much I struggled during my time in London.  I suppose that’s part of why we hold on to some things, because the value is retained in the memory it holds.  But what does it matter when the memories are outdated and only bring up grief?

One of the things I quickly realized about being a Londoner after I moved years ago, is the struggle that goes along with it. I had survived a lot of the hardships many would’ve ran home in a heartbeat to never experience again.  I’ve also had some really fucking horrible heartbreaks, like losing my job 3 times and somehow managing every time to stay afloat through the kind support of friends and family.  I jokingly said to my sister and brother-in law the other day that I’m really good at being jobless as I am at the moment haha.  These heartbreaks also extended onto the relationship level.  At times I felt that was worse, as if my heart was literally breaking… Does this cycle of “suffering” during my time in London make me a masochist for missing it?

During this clearing exercise I realized that actually, I could live without most of it. At the end of the day this stuff is just that, stuff.  So all this shit that I have been carrying around with me every time I moved, to me, represented the many hardships I’ve endured and redundant material that is no longer of use to me. When I binned/ recycled/ donated or gave away what I couldn’t fit into 4 pieces of luggage.  I didn’t feel loss, I felt freedom.

In Buddhist tradition when you meditate you aim for what the Buddhists refer to as “emptiness”, which in simple terms can be translated as when the idle chatter that exists in your thoughts fades and you can become “free”. Free to discover the true nature of things and events resulting in the discovery of your true self.

This is how I view ridding myself of my “stuff” and “things”. They represented the idle chatter bouncing around in my mind.  Without it I can live freely, less shit to worry about lugging around and using up precious space. Resulting in more time to reflect on what I want and the possibilities of a new home wherever that may be.

So during this time “in-between” this is where all the grit I’ve earned and lessons I’ve learned really become useful.  Growth happens when you are pulled out of your comfort zone, no one really talks about it because it’s also the most difficult part of the process. However, it’s also the most important as this is when the good shit happens. The place where memories are influenced, good or bad, and shape us into who we are.

I’m in-between at the moment, even as I sit here writing in an English pub, looking out of very English panel windows onto a very Canadian street view I’m literally between two worlds. It’s weird and it’s fucking uncertain and to say I’m feeling unsettled is an understatement. I’m not the most patient of people so the uncertainty has gotten to me. I’m not going to feed you lies dusted with icing sugar, but I’ve had my moments when I cry…you know ugly cry, because I miss my friends terribly and my challenging life in London – I’ve only been here 12 days and I feel this way. Fuck it! I’m uncertain and freaking out a bit. There! I said it….I suppose this does make me a masochist….

But you know what I feel now that I haven’t felt for a long time?  I feel secure.  Those who know me well, also know that I’m fiercely independent and will bite the hand that tries to help me.  This doesn’t happen often, but I’m actually letting others take care of me for once and it’s really nice.  I don’t feel the pressure I did in London and I am allowed this grace period to think about what is truly important to me and reframe my thoughts. I also feel equipped to deal with this situation because of the conditioning I’ve had in London, every trying situation I’ve endured has built up my strength and I’ve always come out the other end a bit more knowledgeable and tenacious.

This is my life, the masochistic drama queen out on another adventure.  Exciting and scary all the same. I’ve shed the old and outdated and look forward to the bright and new that lies ahead this year.

Here’s to life in-between, where the good shit happens!

Thanks for reading guys. Much Love xxx

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