This is what I hope it won’t feel like, moving into a flat. My first flat – apart from the four year ‘first marital home’ – after all these years.
I never actually thought I would get a flat, what with the thirteen Furry Friends, but luckily I stumbled across some fellow cat-friends and they don’t mind. And it’s got high ceilings, which is good, since I’m a tallish lady (or, as my sister once less flatteringly put it, a giantess). No bumping the old head on the ceiling.
At first I wondered how the cats would take to it – after a having glorious three bedrooms to roam around in, now to be confined to two and no upstairs. But in fact they don’t tend to roam around. Cats stake out their own spaces – huge, dominant gingers mostly downstairs, close to the food – old, feeble tabbies upstairs – young, mostly female cats choosing between levels, depending on who’s asleep and who’s roaming about. Kitten – the most ancient one – never leaves her dusty corner of the front bedroom, though the door is always open. She has her own basket, next to the radiator, her own food tray, her own personal dirt box and there she sits – or mostly sleeps – unless accidentally invaded, in which case a lot of fearsome hissing and sideways skittering breaks out.
I have observed that whereas humans seek out plenty of horizontal space – floors, rooms – what cats like is vertical space. They like shelves, stacks of stuff at different levels. They have this competition going to be top cat – on top of the kitchen cabinet trumps on top of the fridge, which trumps on top of the tumble drier, though that’s warmer. Aloft is good, carpet is draughty and worse – low status.
Therefore when I move into my new flat (fingers tightly crossed) I shall make sure to pile stuff up for the Furry Ones to scale. This is likely to happen of its own accord, it seems to me, in that receding removal men leave behind a tidal wave of stacked cardboard boxes. There’ll be plenty for the first five to use for mountaineering and by the time I have collected the remaining eight from the cattery (possibly two separate catteries) next day I will have had time to do some more ‘spatial engineering’. That’s the plan anyway. But we all know what happens to best laid plans.
And then there’s just me. Me adapting to living in close proximity with other people again. Me re-joining the human race, perhaps. Me returning to the small town I inhabited for most of my marriage and – I realised recently – the very last place I can remember feeling ‘at home’. I am looking forward to rediscovering familiar territory, old walks, old shops, new shops. I am looking forward to actually being able to walk without being observed with a stone-faced, slack-jawed stare from every doorway. Honestly, it’s like Deliverance round here.
Ex and My Replacement, however, have long since moved away so meeting them walking hand and hand in the street (as I did, once) is a vanishingly small possibility. They probably don’t hold hands any more anyway – or if they do, I don’t wish to know that. In my experience hand-holding tends to be a short-lived phenomenon, all too swiftly replaced by bickering, and then silence. But perhaps I’m wrong on that. Just a sour old cynic!