I’m sitting on the floor by the newly-lit fire, looking around my boat and trying to make sense of the past year. It’s been, without a doubt, the hardest year of my life. Although I’ve started my first business and bought my first home, it’s hard at this moment to concentrate on achievements rather than problems.
I’ve gone from having a warm, comfortable flat and an income dropping into my bank account each month to living in a tiny space without basic facilities and getting by financially on my wits. Although I have plenty of paying work on, every penny seems to vanish into the boat and my savings are gone. So I’m busy but also broke – a tricky combination.
The studio I’m renting for work just isn’t working out – it’s cold, damp, dirty and eerie after dark – I just can’t seem to get any work done no matter how much effort (and money and time) I put into cosying it up. With the boat needing so much attention it seems daft to have a workspace which requires more of the same, so I’ve quit. I’ve got internet arriving on Swallow on Monday and a tiny desk space I’m going to make my office. Is this the right decision? I don’t know. I know that life is a constant stream of decisions at the moment, and none of them are easy – I’ve already made plenty of wrong ones.
Everything seems to be about problems and solutions right now, and it’s tiring. It’s more tiring because when I come home, I have to think about getting wood and water and coal in, and how I’m going to make food, and tending the fire, and clean clothes for tomorrow.
But – at the same time I’m more satisfied than ever. I don’t mind the chores each day – in fact I love doing them, I love seeing the fuel I burn to heat my home and being really aware of how much water I use. The bit of me that wanted to make these big changes – the best part of me, I feel, is having an adventure. None of my problems are life and death, and none of them are insolvable. I wouldn’t swap Swallow for any luxury apartment now – she’s my home and I love her and slowly but surely I’m going to make her beautiful. And being self-employed is better than any job I’ve had – I love being completely in charge of each day. So while the weather gets colder and life gets harder, I’m going to bring everything to one place, to this boat, and nestle in for the winter.