I followed him up the stairs. He didn't smell too good, smelt of fags and ash; over his top lip, strands from his moustache - a fat wiry brush - hung, curling, tinted in a colour swatch of nicotine yellow. A long term smoker. Forty a day probably. Every other step, a cough and a wheeze, an asthmatic rattle all the way to the top. I remember only counting twelve steps.
'So this is it, ' he said, clearing his throat in the ball of his fist, 'take a look around.'
First a bed room, strange angles. Then the bath room, nice size, loving the position of the window. Another bedroom, this will be the master. And through a final door into a vacuum of space and light. That's when I knew, decided right there on the spot. Why wasn't Younger Partner with me? The roof had been scooped out like a pumpkin; wooden beams crossed the ceiling and where suitcases and roof racks and boxes of bric-a-brac would once have been stored was a mezzanine kitchen. An eat-in kitchen in the roof? Now I loved that idea...
A first property bought together. The first night; glasses of champagne, fish and chips out of the paper, a gift of chocolate cake from the neighbours downstairs. The joy of discovering a new area; Chiswick, Shepherds Bush, Turnham Green. The best Thai restaurant on Askew Road.
We lived here for seven years.
This wasn't any ordinary flat, this was a crucible made of magical stuff; where gold was fashioned from waste basket junk, where sapphires poured from the bathroom tap, where dreams bubbled in fairy wisps of kettle steam...
I shed my skin a dozen times. I ditched the DJ'ing, spent five years retraining as a psychotherapist. I never worked so hard; the late nights at college, weekend workshops, seminars, clients, personal therapy, essays, case studies; all juggled with full time jobs, those soul sucking rent payers. I found myself under proposition one warm July evening. A Friday. 'Would you marry me?' Younger Partner asked, propped on the edge of the chair opposite; his expression earnest, puppy dog eyed, a tad nervous. 'Pardon?' I replied, 'could you say that again?' 'Will you marry me?' he repeated, this time his cheeks burning lanterns, 'Er... er... yes, yes of course I will marry you.' I exchanged Ms for Mrs. Under the living room beams, early March gliding through the panes, my best lady and I were plucked, pruned, kneaded and painted; two wedding dollies immaculately sculptured for a big big day. I grew a bump, solid with fluctuation and hard movement. The day I carried her over the threshold, into the living room, it was if she'd always been with us; right from the very beginning. I battled the closing walls of post natal illness; our home a muted sunken place; my life pre-baby, a flaky shadow, alien, a distant memory. I began writing. This. A blog. A new existence; words, words, words... and I bade farewell to my thirties; hello to middledom and swathes of silver hair. (and cake).
There were parties; Younger Dad's infamous thirtieth. The beer stains. The bass. A five course New Years bash. A first birthday, a second...
And almost a year ago, after the sign said sold and the paperwork cleared, we moved.
So much change, different people.
If you like my writing, you could do two wonderful things for me (pretty please);
1. Vote for me in the MADS (best writer). 2. Preorder my anthology, Seasons Of Motherhood (published in March). Thank you.