I cried today for the second time since I arrived here on Rum. I don’t cry much. I cry at films, sometimes at books but crying for me, out of self pity is something I do on a very infrequent basis. The first time was during that awful week when the static was halfway between where it had been and where it is now. A bleak week. This morning was an accumulation of things; all fairly minor in isolation, all added together had me feeling like a camel with a rather sore back buried under a whole bale of straw.
The challenging side of living on a remote island doesn’t often seem to impact on our little family. We tend to get our post and deliveries and although we accept we have to wait a wee while longer for things and maybe pay a bit more in carriage charges it tends to be something we anticipate and factor in. Having limited internet and limited phone signal and limited electricity to charge up devices to make phone calls, receive emails and get online makes it all the harder to chase things up when they do go wrong though. This week we’ve been pursuing the well known electrical retailer in getting delivery of a replacement order and refund of a returned order. The replacement finally arrived, the refund is still outstanding. I don’t want to name and shame but they are pushing me close to that point. We sourced a log burner and have spent three days this week getting all the required details to arrange a courier to collect the item from the supplier, so it can be sent to us as they don’t deliver. Finally yesterday we had all the information needed to make arrangements, paid for the item, paid for the courier and emailed the address label to the company. We now wait with bated breath to see if it makes it here – there is just so much scope to go wrong I am rather failing to be positive about the possibilities.
My knees are bruised. I’m enjoying the winkle picking, although I do see winkles every time I close my eyes and have been dreaming about them all week. But it is cold, wet work and takes us away from Dragon and Star. We’re happy to be heads down getting on with it but with other stuff going on too it’s hard.
We had a testing encounter with the local planning department to run past them our ideas for a house build on the croft. Much of what we came away feeling very low about has since been thrashed out or put into perspective but it was still another thing to add to the list of stuff we need to summon up energy reserves to deal with. We will, and it will be fine, I know that. I just need a little while to find my mojo with that again.
It’s coming up to Christmas, before that Star’s birthday. Friends are planning and plotting for an annual pre Christmas group holiday that not only have we attended for the last 6 years but I actually set up and made happen – for a while they were even called ‘NicCamps’. It’s really hard not to be going, hard to hear references to a party you won’t be at. Tough to explain to Dragon and Star that no, we probably won’t even be able to go next year because it will cost such a lot of money to get there, at a time of year when ferries are not always reliably running anyway, we’d need to get our animals all looked after and these are the sorts of things we talked about not being able to do any more when we decided to move here. We knew it would be the case but it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to hear talk of Secret Santa, Christmas carol practise, who will be bringing which cakes, craft items and so on.
Finally, the thing which made me cry this morning was a text from my brother who became a father last week. Of all the things I had anticipated and made my peace with being too remote to be part of when we decided to move here becoming an aunt was one I had never thought of. I am already Auntie Nic to Ady’s brother’s three children and I love my nieces and nephew dearly but not being there to have a newborn cuddle with my little brother’s baby is hitting really hard. I want to give my brother a hug and see reflected in his eyes the thoughts that I’m now having about how maybe we actually really are grown ups too now we both have children of our own. Even though it feels like just last year we were plotting what time we could sneak into the lounge on Christmas morning to look at our presents and making secret camps together in the loft space of the house.
So it hurts. Knees hurt, head hurts from all the long lists of stuff I have to do for the various committments I have made, heart hurts from not being there instead of here.
You’ll notice I have not moaned about the winter. It is true that it is still dark at 8am and dark once more long before 5pm. The days are so much shorter. The weather is grim; wind and rain. The croft is a mud bath and I’ve not left the static without waterproofs in weeks. The generator is running over time because with so little daylight the solar panels are not charging up the batteries. We are revolving three batteries with one always on charge while the other two run the lights, water pump and internet. This means carrying a really heavy battery up and down the croft hill most days. Doing my washing today was the usual weekly challenge of checking the washing machine is available, going back to swap over washing into tumble drier, going back to collect it, fold it all up, put it in a waterproof bag and walk it up the croft hill. The static is dripping with condensation; walls, ceilings, cupboards, windows. I am not moaning about these things because although they are tough I knew they would be. They were the trade off we had anticipated and accepted in exchange for all the amazing things about being here. The space, freedom, light, beaches, stars, sunsets, rainbows, autonomy. They are worth it. I’m just adjusting myself to this weeks challenges being worth it too.