I suppose I ought to chart the lows as well as the highs. Well, we’re riding low at the moment. A gloomy grizzle passes between us as we search for solutions.
To start with, the boat is still unlined and even with the logburner Rich is so cold overnight that staying there makes him tired and miserable. Over the last two weeks a frosty winter has made itself known and instead of being warmer than here (which it was when he got the fire in) it is breath-watchingly chilly. I’m offering him this place, and I’m getting used to having him in my space more and enjoying waking up together, going for walks and plotting with him whenever we can. But it won’t work long term, either between us or in getting work done. We’re going to spend a few days over Christmas getting Gwen comfortable so that he can have a proper home there, and eventually one that I can come and visit as he does here.
This has spurred a fluctuating change in my attitude to working on Gwen. In his frustration that she isn’t livable I think Rich has come to regret the fun times we’ve had away from Gwen all along. Should we have been working on her instead? Am I to blame? I don’t like the implication of it all. It’s an odd mix – it’s his boat, but it’s our trip we’re working towards. It’s his home and his investment, and I have my own ramshackle shed of shit to manage. Gwen is more alien to me than ever – I haven’t sailed, I don’t live there, I can’t go and stay there and unlike Rich I have no experiences to pad out the idea of what we’re working towards. I want to help with this current predicament and be part of making the boat sailable as a whole, but I am also wary of it being my duty to do so – I want it to be my choice, not an obligation. Like, I want to be useful because (and as and when) I feel like being useful, not because I will have failed him or us if I don’t. Rich feels frustrated whenever he isn’t working on her without a good reason. I don’t want my guilt to make me feel that too – I need my reasonless days! I don’t see the point in being miserable just to get her ready in time, and ignore the possible impact of all the other great stuff and/or disasters that may or may not happen in the interim. I make a lot less than Rich and really can’t afford to help much unless I change jobs or give up everything else.
So a couple of things have changed. First of all the agreement now is that, as before (but now more officially in both our minds) I work on the boat when I want to and put money in when I want to, but he’s still funding her and working under his own steam. The good thing is that I DO want to, and I want to restart Gwen Sundays in the new year. I’m just not going to call it that to him any more. I’m just going to go work on her on Sundays when I feel like it. Daft, I know, but it’s an important distinction after all this.
Secondly, having sat down and written a four A4 page list of things we need to do to get her sailing, we’re moving the deadline from Spring 2014. I still think we can hit it, but it puts pressure on us both having it there. So we’re possibly going the year after instead. So what? We love it here, and the longer we have the longer we can save and the more fun we can have in our spare time. Rich seems buoyed by this decision, like a weight has lifted, and that makes me very happy.
I’ll just carry on hoping I don’t get broody. No babies til after the Caribbean, if ever. I don’t feel like having a baby, but I’m 33, so I keep figuring it must be coming – some hormonal brainwash that will make me want to put down roots and sprout fruit. I must admit I’m hugely excited about my sister’s pregnancy – it amazes me that a little relative is growing in her right now – but it’s no more of a driver for me than the excitement I feel when I see one of Didds’ garments or Andy’s paintings – sure, I’d like to have the capacity to do that shit, but I don’t and I don’t mind that – I achieve my own stuff in my own way. Stay where you are, biological clock, we’ll get to you later.
The second low is biological and inescapable. It involves a character I haven’t yet introduced – Rich’s little dog, Ferryn. She is an adorable little border terrier who is very pretty and fun to walk, but also very stinky and accompanied by an infuriating whine.
I have suspected all my life that I’m allergic to dogs, from the sneeze free year I had between dogs in my youth to the dramatic reaction my face had whenever I visited my mum when she had a beagle. The skin on my face seems to itch from within and I sneeze and sneeze, often until I leave the building. It’s weirdly exhausting (I’ve had to sleep after attacks before), and it can gradually deteriorate both my asthma and my energy levels. Problems fully diagnosing this allergy have included a) that it’s not all the time – I can sometimes be near a dog for a while before it happens – and b) that I’m allergic to other stuff too, like whatever gathers on clothes I haven’t worn for a while (every year I have to wash all my hats and scarfs before winter as they set me off!). Figuring it out hasn’t really bothered me because I’ve never wanted a dog.
It’s been there from the start with me and Rich, and I’ve been tempted to blame it on the dust in which he is so frequently covered rather than accept that the more likely reality was true. It happened when I used to stayed at the camper, and since summer it’s happened at my home more and more often (he brings the dog over, which he didn’t do in summer). We tried washing her (she stank too) but that seems to have made it worse. Despite officially having a bed in the corner she gets on everything, and everything makes me sneeze. As this was once something I had to face my whole asthmatic youth, I tolerate and ignore it better than you might think, but it isn’t a nice way to live. The other day I went to visit Didds and Digger the labrador came to visit. He came near me and I started sneezing. He went away and it stopped. I realised I had to face the truth.
There is no solution to this problem (other than vast amounts of Piriten, which is not ideal). I could never ask Rich to get rid of her – she is his companion and he loves her. But neither of us want me to carry on getting more ill. I can’t stand the idea of relegating him to the boat right now. He gets so down when he has to stay there. So I’m just putting up with it as always. It isn’t great – he feels guilty because I’m sneezing, I feel guilty because I’m causing a problem. I’m going to wash and clean everything in this place while he’s away visiting family before Christmas (which it needs – it’s a tip) and I may ask him not to bring her here after that. Which means him staying on the boat because it’s too cold for her to be on it without a fire. We start thinking about how this will affect the future and we get downhearted. He doesn’t come here? I take a Piriten before I go to his place? This sucks.