Friday, 9 November 2012
When I first met Alison, I was living in a rented shabby mid terrace house, even though I rented it, I decorated and made as nice as possible
A couple of months after meeting Alison, she moved in, we made it our home, with the view of moving somewhere nicer when we could afford it.
We stayed there together for another year.
We both worked from home, so Alison made a work area in my studio, which was in one of the two rooms downstairs. Such was our love, we were together 24/7 working alongside each other as well -it just worked , as it did until the day she passed.
Then the rental company suddenly decided they wanted to refurbish the house and put it back on the rental market at a higher rent, so we started looking for somewhere new.
We looked at several properties that offered no more than what we were leaving, then we found a bungalow outside of Ipswich, it had everything we wanted, good décor and a lovely country location. At the last minute, days before signing the tenant agreement, the owners took the property of the market.
By this time, we had only a week to vacate the house we were in, we needed to find somewhere quick, any where, even if it meant living somewhere for a couple of months or minimum contract time.
At the last minute we were offered to be shown a new build house, but it was located in the heart of the Ipswich red light district, we decided to give it a look, but certainly had no desire to be in that area of the town.
Being the red light area, we didn't really know what the area was like other than it was 'Red' and did not know of any new build properties there.
Anyway we viewed and just fell in love with the house, it had more space than we ever imagined and it was brand new.
The last night in the terrace stays in my memory, we slept the night on a mattress in what was my studio in the house, we were both so excited to be moving into the new house that next morning.
So we moved in, it was brilliant, everything we wanted, except for the location. Even though we loved the house, the location was a bit of a problem, constant kerb crawlers all night long, street girls plying there trade right outside the house.
But we could put up with it, if it really got too much we could always move again.
Then things changed, after being in the house a couple of years, five street girls were murdered, all had been picked up from the road our house was on. A guy was eventually arrested and sentenced.
Consequently there was a crack down on kerb crawling with zero tolerance, drivers would be named and shamed. CCTV cameras were placed along the road and all cars were monitored for several months.
Prostitution stopped completely and the area lost it's red light label.
The house is three story, with so much space, we had many years together here and we loved it, even though it is rented, it was our 'home'. The landlord became a very close friend and often said to us the house is ours for however long we want to be here.
When Alison died one or two people said, what are going to do with the house, are you going to move and downsize? my answer was a terse no, I'm staying.
All of Alison is wrapped up in this house, her memory lives here with me, don't think I could ever move and the long term plan is to hopefully buy the house. A fresh start some where else, I cannot ever see working, where ever I live, I will still be lonely, so I may as well be lonely in a house I love that is full of memories, even if at times those memories make the tears hard to hold back.
So I'm in a house of empty rooms now, as which ever room I'm in at any point of the day, the other rooms are empty. There is no sound from them, no Alison banging about, no talking to her self, no tapping away on her computer key board, no talking on the phone, there is nothing only silence from them.
Her little study is still as she left it, her office chair stands empty, her computers all switched off, her urn of ashes sits on top of her desk, how could I ever imagine eighteen months ago that she would be in her study inside an urn, so bloody unreal and unfair.
The shower room which she used as a workspace as well, is still as it was left, the shower has never been used since the day she went, her shower cap still hangs on the door, her shampoo and toothpaste still in the shower tray.
Then her main room again as it was left, nothing moved, just a few things added, computer screens with covers on, not been touched since the day she died. Her riding leathers, boots and helmet, crash damaged, sit in one corner of the room, a brutal reminder of what has happened to us both.
The stairs to the top rooms and down to the first floor, still have to odd coffee stain on the stair carpet, spilt from the many cups of coffee taken up to her study, the banisters on the stairs, still have mucky finger prints from when she had been tinkering with her bike, to wipe them clean would seem like wiping the evidence away that she was ever here, silly I know.
The bathroom, which is right next to my studio, every day I used to run a bath for her, she would often have a shower and a bath. I so miss our chats while I was painting and she was in the bath. She loved her baths scalding hot, I could never even put my hand in, she used to get out out red from the heat and lay on the floor, half in the bathroom and half in front of my studio door, to cool down.
The tiles at the back of the bath have the faint shape of her head, as the tiling grout has very slightly discoloured over the years from her head resting against them, just above the tiles on the back wall are her hand/finger marks, where she used to place her hand while getting in. It is so unreal sitting looking at the empty bath and knowing that I will never run a bath for her again.
My studio, long hours spent here, these days far more on the computer than at the painting desk, which is not good. Some days I just don't have the motivation to paint, days can turn into a week and at the end of the week I have nothing to show work wise.
It was never like this, we were early risers, most mornings I would have my paint palette all laid out ready to go at 7 am, these days it's more like midday, if and when I finally kick myself into action.
I need to paint productively again, four paintings a month, not one or two every two months, I want to get back to how I worked before. In time I'm sure I will, but at the moment I struggle because I haven't got the clear mind I once had.
The bedroom, the only room used as such, the top floor is really the master bedroom, my studio would be the third bedroom. It has taken so long to get used to sleeping alone, but I am used to it now, I do sleep well , but you never get used to waking up alone. I have a photograph of Aly on my bedside table and before I go to sleep, I hold the photo and talk to her, I have done this every night since she died and will probably do so for as long as I'm on this earth. Her wardrobe is as she left it, sometimes I open it up, not often though, as seeing all her clothes hanging there just floors me, but I can never part with them. I know some do, but I can't, they are part of her life. I so miss seeing her drying her hair in the bedroom, standing and bent forward, her head upside down, or sitting crossed legged on the floor at the bedside table doing her make up. Also her frequent, afternoon naps, sometimes I would climb in bed with her and have an hour, oh how I miss that.
Downstairs the Kitchen, very faint indentations all over the lino, made by her heels. Some of the cupboards still full with her electronics paraphernalia, one cupboard full of her cake making equipment.
The kitchen was my domain really when it came to food, oh and washing up! Alison very rarely washed up, if she did then the kitchen was left swimming in water lol.
But she was good at cleaning, if and when she cleaned, she did the full monty. She decided to clean the cooker one day, I was upstairs working when she started, I came down after about half an hour to see how she was getting on, I opened the kitchen door, to find the cooker stripped down and in pieces on the kitchen floor, door, glass, panels, rubber seals, everything!
She was so funny the way she went about things, no short measures.
The downstairs closet is untidy, it has become a bit of a dumping ground, her hats and scarves still hanging on hooks, underneath a wicker box full of her shoes, her gym bag sits on top. It still has sand in it, from when she went to the beach a few days before her accident.
For months now I have wanted to get it sorted, I will do it one day!
The living room, so many memories in this room.
When Alison once mentioned bringing her bike into the living room to do some electronic work on it, I thought she was joking. Then she started making something out of MDF board, in the garden, I asked her what she was making, she said a ramp so that she could ride the bike into the living room, you see once she had made her mind up about something, there was no stopping her. Although I didn't agree with the bike coming in the house, for supposedly an hour or two, if it made her happy, so be it. Thing is, sometimes it was in for a day or two and often it would be in for cleaning as well. I would give anything to see that bike back in the house.
I feel the emptiness of all the rooms together in the evenings, sitting watching TV, that's when the loneliness gets me most and now that winter is here, the evenings will get longer. No more cosy evenings chilling out together, watching a movie or whatever.
The house feels empty, it's not alive any more, but I still love the house and Alison is still part of it, I guess her residual energy will always remain.
When I have friends over, the house gets some of it's life back, but that's only for short periods.
What I had here has gone, but I'm forever grateful that I had six years of happiness here with Alison.