Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Three years living on my own

A diary note tells me that three years ago today - on 24 January 2009 - I moved out of M---'s home and began to occupy the Cottage on a full-tme basis.

Three years already.

I'd better give some background. When I retired on 31 May 2005 I had already put my former home up for sale. I'd enjoyed a good salary, but, looking at my pension, it simply wasn't possible now to meet the ongoing mortgage repayments. I considered holding onto the house and letting it, but the income would have been swallowed up by those mortgage repayments, and I had no savings available to cover the inevitable costs. And I would still be without a home of my own. Apart from that, I didn't relish being a landlord, especially as I'd seen what problems could actually arise; although renting out a village property to a couple wasn't the same thing as renting a town flat to students. My likely tenants wouldn't necessarily trash the place. But I really didn't fancy it.

Selling would also put a lot of money in the bank. And at that time, in 2005, M--- and I wanted to travel. And we did: an orgy of caravanning, and eventually a two-month New Zealand holiday in 2007. We were still a close couple. There was an ongoing plan - which in M---'s case was a powerful dream - to buy a million-pound house together somewhere by the sea, or in the country. Selling my home put cash in the joint pot for that: a big first step.

The house sold. Now, where to live, pending the million-pound purchase? M--- welcomed me into her home. For special financial reasons (that I can't explain here) this had to be on a temporary basis only. So sooner or later I'd have to find somewhere else. I could only now afford a small place, and nothing appealing came up. And we seemed so rock-solid, so eager to share a future together, that neither of us was inclined to make a serious effort to get me fixed up in a little bungalow in the local area.

As we went into 2006, and then into 2007, the property market was still riding high. I began to worry about what my bank balance could now buy me, because the 'temporary' stay with M--- was getting to look dangerously long-term. But only a flat was now within reach.

Then we found the Cottage. It was hopelessly unaffordable for me. But it looked like a great property investment, and M--- came in. We pooled our resources, acted fast, shut out the other potential buyers, and bought it.

At first the Cottage was only going to be a place to enjoy on weekends. And not necessarily to sleep in, although some of my furniture went down there, and it was set up as a house to spend a night or two in. It was in fact a comfortable, modern, very nicely appointed family home. Way too large for one person; but I was installed as the legal owner, and that instantly solved the problem of my staying with M--- in her home for overlong.

But I didn't feel as if I owned the Cottage in any real sense. It was - to me - simply a joint investment, something we'd sell and get a profit from, and not my 'home'. M--- put a lot of personal effort into the place - painting, work in the garden - as if it were her own personal project. She took it over. I didn't mind; I had no special attachment to the Cottage, although it was a most attractive property in almost every way. But it soon became obvious that our 'investment' was going to be a mistake. The property market had faltered. The Cottage went onto the market again not a year after we bought it. Meanwhile I was still living with M---.

Then one day in July 2008, I recognised that I had a gender issue, and everything changed forever.

From that point, my departure from M---'s home became inevitable. We both tried to cope with the consequences, but it was no good. In the end, M--- could not bear to see me changing before her eyes, the old person beginning to fade away and someone new and distressingly unfamiliar coming in. I could not bear the strain, the atmosphere of desperate hostility, the lack of recognition and empathy, the mutual sorrow. As 2009 arrived, she asked me to go. I went. Three years ago.

So much has happened since!

And yet the Cottage itself is innocent. It was my home for only a few months until Dad died, and I inherited the house I now live in. It was finally sold last August. I am sure its new owners love it and have made it their own.

I look back on my time there with a curious detachment, because we did not bond. I used the Cottage as a refuge, a place of peace and safety, where I could take the first steps towards going full-time as Lucy. A sort of cradle. It was also the place where I heard of both my parents' deaths. It was also a financial albatross. But let the past be past.


  1. Jeez, we're all bloody miserable right now, ain't we?

    Must be post-Xmas blues, hon... :-(

    chrissieB xxxx

  2. Oh, I don't know. It can really help to express 'how it was'. To put it on record. And then perhaps never to mention it again.


  3. M certainly had her dreams. Does the million pound house not need the commensurate income to maintain the appropriate lifestyle?

    Anybody who tried to be sensible and put something away for the future has been burned to one degree or another by the wild economy. My policy is to look forwards not back and to get the most out of what time is left. Sadly more ambitious dreams of travel have had to be shelved though they might have been unreasonable considering the reduced stamina which comes with increasing age.

    The days are getting longer and brighter, we will all be cheery again soon.

  4. Life can be so hard at times Lucy but it appears you have coped well under the circumstances. A million pound house would be nice to live in if you had someone to share it with but alone? I think not. The cost of maintaining it would be a nightmare too unless you had a lot stashed away. I live in a very large house and I know what the running costs can run to but I keep it as low as possible, even so it does take much out of my monthly income. I am fortunate in as far as I have lost that itchy feet feeling and wanting to travel all over the world but if I had loads of spare cash I might do some travelling. I agree with you that it is good to talk things over and to put it all behind you. The future beckons and that is where your thoughts should be never forgetting the here and now of course.

    Shirley Anne xxx


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