Knackered but happy. That’s what I am! I handed over the keys of my spic-and-span and emptly house, thanks to the help of my two sisters and brother who worked their ass off.
My stay in South Africa was the perfect time o work out my plans as far as possible. I had already scheduled all kinds of appointments to take care of as soon as I would be back in the Netherlands. Not only would I visit 3 possible home-sitting addresses but also check out a storage space. I made lists of all my stuff that should either go away, go to the storage or go to friends houses.
You too are getting older Wilma!
I called people to find out how they felt about my plans. Fons noted that obviously I was not getting any younger, so how about the long term? A very good question of course. But of course that thought had crossed my mind as well.
The plan was to put aside as much money as possible and then at some point buy a kind of old shed somewhere and renovate it. Or have a container house built. Or participate in a possible “old-day-project” where friends live together so they can take care of each other and jointly hire services when needed. “But,” I told Fons, “That I will address later. I want to take one stap at a time and first things must go first. If I want to be able to do something in the future, this is the way to get there. I certainly won’t get there by staying where I am now. ”
Better take a leap
Again it became clear to me that getting stuck in an undesirable but well-known situation is more attractive to many people than doing something unknown. “You never know what happens!” that’s what they say. All true, but is that worse than knowing exactly what happens while all that really makes you unhappy?
In the meantime I had Googled the most creative living solutions you can imagine. Thousands of people already seem to live in alternative homes, as I envisage them. Because they are tired of paying sky-high rents or because they cannot get enough mortgage since house prices go thru the roof.
I immediately figured out that almost all of them are struggling with Dutch bureaucracy. When you make a deal to build a house at someone elses property, you’re not there yet. You will also need the approval of the municipality. If these guys don’t want to cooperate you just get stuck. I just hope that by the time I get there, things will have become easier in that regard.
Back to the Netherlands
The weeks in Africa flew by. On the one hand I was disappointed to leave, on the other hand I was eager to start executing my plans. When I got home I immediately felt the pressure again which wasn’t there when I was in South-Africa. I walked around my house feeling totally uncomfortable. I immediately called my landlord. He was really cooperative and had no intention whatsoever to be rigid about the lease. “Just let me know when you want to leave,” he said. “People are queuing to rent this house anyway” I knew he was right, not only he would find someone else immediately, he could then also raise the rent significantly.
I rented a car and went to visit my potential home sitting addresses. It all worked out fine and the dates were set as planned. I decided to quit the lease mid-October. That would give Nic enough time to arrange his visa. It also meant I would have 7 weeks to fix everything. While doing that I would obviously also have to work and in the meantime find myself new work as well. Quite a challenge but I had to face it. I started to count back from mid-October and set up an exact schedule containing all kinds of deadlines. I started to take photos of all the stuff I wanted to sell and publish it on the internet.
Stories from strangers
While selling stuff online I quickly found out buyers just wouldn’t show up last minute. Or they would show up but tell me they wanted to pay less than we agreed upon. In short, there were quite some disappointments there. But I just kept on going.
What I also encountered: hugely positive, encouraging reactions from totalstrangers who wanted to know everything about my plans. And they would almost always tell me their own stories as well. How about this one:
Do you also have tights?
“I’m here to collect the ironing board”. It was a guy somewhere is his 40’s. He paid me the agreed amount and looked somewhat lost. “Can I do something for you?” I asked. The story came out immediately. His wife had left him and took almost everything with her. He couldn’t even iron his children’s clothes. Hence the ironing board. “Djeeez,” I said compassionately, “Do you have a flat-iron?” No, but he didn’t want to buy mine anyway. “OK” I said “but if you change your mind, you have my number.” The following day I announced my big weekend sale on Facebook. He called me immediately.
Could I put the flat-iron aside for him? He would then pick it up the morning of the weekend sale. “Sure,” I said, “Maybe you then see other stuff you need!” He cleared his throat. “Do you also sell clothes?” he asked. “I do,” I said “what kind of clothes are you looking for?” “Tights,” he said. “I’m looking for tights.” “Oh,” I stuttered, “Well, I will have a look. I can tell you this Saturday if you come to pick up the flat-iron,” “OK” he said in a squeaky voice and quickly hung up.
It made me laugh but I also felt sorry for him. God knows how much courage he must have gathered to ask me about it in the first place! My son Emiel had a different view on the whole situation. “Are you nuts?” he asked me, well, it was not really a question I think. Luana, his girlfriend, felt the same I did. Emiel however just suspected that guy just wanted to sniff my tights and stockings. “Oh no,” I said, but still thought to myself: Am I so naive? Wll, the guy finally picked up the iron at the door and didn’t mention the tights at all. And neither did I.
Obviously, we are swingers
I sold just about everything I wanted to get rid of and made arrangements with people who wanted to buy furniture, curtains and beds. Selling the washing machine was not easy, people canceled last minute and I felt horrible thinking I had to carry that thing down the stairs myself.
But luckily I found someone anyway. A man who had previously bought other stuff I was selling called me to find out whether the washing machine was still for sale. There he was, standing at my doorstep telling me his whole life story. How he had met his wife and how he had made a pass on her. And that at that time she already had a kid that he immediately loved like it was his own son. “And obviously, we are swingers” he mentioned it loosely and awaited my response. “That is fantastic!” I said “But I have to go now!” Man, I was laughing when he left!
Off to the storage
The moment arrived when all the things I wanted to keep had to be transported to the storage AND to the people who would look after a number of things. Of course a whole schedule was set up to arrange for all that to happen and we worked like dogs to get it done.
We arrived at the storage with a trailer containing the first batch of stuff and took a look at the space I rented. It was really small. Too small, we assumed and walked into the office to ask whether there was a bigger space available. The lady at the reception sighed heavily from behind her desk. “Look here, what is mentioned here on your trailer? 3 cubic meters. Your storage room is 4.2 cubic meters. So it’s big enough. You just have to stack.” She just shook her head and looked at us like we were total morons.
So that’s what we did. We started to stack. When all te stuff was packed in there, even the second batch, there was still room left. Even my large sofa bed (which I didn’t manage to sell) fitted in.
I just love my family and friends
In the meantime, friends came to pick up the things they would store in their houses. We did an amazing amount of work but meeting the deadline of October 15 seemed to be impossible. There was still so much to do! I was feeling exhausted after running up and down the stairs about a zillion times and I felt close to crying.
But my sibllings and friends didn’t give up. While I was working, they took care of everyting that still needed to be done and I’m still so grateful for that!
Knackered but happy!
After I handed in my keys, I felt so relieved! A feeling of total freedom came over me and never left me since. I had taken a huge step and now the only way was up!