catching a breath 50We’ve finally finished the renovations to our flat in Bristol and moved back in on Friday. I drove down from prison on Thursday afternoon and went straight over to see how things were coming along at the house. It was an absolute bomb sight. A heavy layer of dust covered everything, the painters still had loads to do, and the plumber wasn’t coming over to re attach the radiators till sometime Friday afternoon.

None of this was a big deal really, except in my own psyche. You’d think after doing this a million times I’d get used to the mad dash to the finish line and the clearing up after messy decorators, carpenters, and flooring people. But I always find it stressful. This time I really thought there was no way we’d be moving in on Friday. I wanted to run as fast as I could in the opposite direction, let them totally finish up, get pros to clean up, then come back after the weekend. Far more civilised. But Charles was chomping at the bit to get in, so I said I’d give it a go.

I left the hotel we were staying in to meet the painter at the flat at 8 am Friday morning. While waiting for him to show up late, I wandered round noticing all of the unfinished details, the touch-ups that were needed, the dirt on our furniture that wasn’t covered properly—I saw every problem. I went back to meet Charles for breakfast in a filthy mood. I was so ready to be done with what looked at that moment like a far-off possibility. Poor Charles had to sit with me at breakfast being a moany old bag.

He suggested I stay in our hotel room till we had to check out at 11 am. Have a couple hours to chill out and do other things. That wouldn’t have crossed my mind. I so identify as being the one that will roll my sleeves up and get stuck in. But his suggestion sounded like heaven. I wouldn’t have to go to the flat for two whole hours and Charles could get a head start with the builders and the cleaners. As it turned out, that was all I needed. Two hours of hanging with Rub’s, working, and being away from the chaos. When I’m really in a low mood, I often forget that it’s best to take a step back. I don’t seem to have that much bandwidth.

Luckily Charles did. I think he was quite glad to see the back of me. I didn’t go the house for two hours and it made all the difference in the world. I arrived at 11 am in a completely different state of mind. I got stuck in and spent the next eight hours in the thick of it and it felt great. It was a perfect reminder to take time out when I feel that bad. It took all weekend to get the flat looking somewhat normal again, but now as I sit here with Ruby writing this, I feel at home.