I’m going full survivalist.

I’m prepping for a disaster of sorts. No, I’m not referring to Brexit, though I do consider it a tragedy — not least because it’s sadly eroding my ability to engage in constructive discourse with those of differing ideologies — though I suspect ‘ideology’ is far from the motivations of many a Brexiteer. Conversely, it’s hardened my opinion of its proponents insofar as I believe they are immutably stupid, selfish, and consequently unworthy of my time and energies. Though I digress: this is a personal catastrophe on the horizon, and it’s looming just as rapidly.

This process of survivalism isn’t centred around stockpiling, holing-up, and going off-grid: it’s quite the opposite. I’m relocating. For the next couple of weeks I’ll be saying my goodbyes to scenes like this, taken a little while ago…

For me, survival will entail moving into a property in which there’s a built-in social life, readily accessible communications, and a modernisation of domestic amenities hitherto unavailable to me.

Simply put: if I don’t do this, I won’t survive. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be warm. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have companionship.

The decision making process over the last two months has been truly one of heart versus head. At its root is the emotional attachment to the North Yorkshire Moors, my home since the mid-’90s, and a location that’s lured me in since I was a child. In slightly more tangible ways it’s the sights, smells, and sounds I’ll miss. Dark skies, blistering sunsets, wild garlic and gorse, owls calling… and some lovely neighbours. But is it enough to build a life around? No. Furthermore it’s fundamentally flawed in that the circumstances in which I moved to this particular spot were horrid from the outset. I won’t go into detail but I was broken at that point and in no fit shape to repair myself given what the next year or so would throw at me. I really shouldn’t rue any departure from here.

To some extent, in fact this is somewhat a defining factor: I have perpetuated this situation largely out of necessity (my options were very limited), but also in terms of identity. Now, bereft of any useful, appealing, or positive personal attributes and skills, I’ve let my solitary existence define who I am. I was no longer able to lay claim to anything remarkable, so I became the guy who lives in the middle of nowhere; pretty elusive, but also plainly in need of something more. It feels like that has been my only defining feature, because everything else good or interesting about me was gone.

Nevertheless it’s been a tough call. I have endured and managed to incrementally rebuild my life in spite of the cold, the transport challenges, the financial problems, and the crippling solitude. If circumstances were different for me, this could be a very nice place to cosy up with a significant other. Two very contented kittens don’t count, but they have eased the loneliness considerably.

Going forward I’m relishing the thought of walking to my favourite café, a nice bar, and to buy fresh groceries with which I’ll prepare proper meals, in a proper kitchen, one in which the cat’s food doesn’t freeze.

I’m excited about the prospect of riding my bike to the seaside, into the hills, or anywhere in fact, without a demoralising battle against immediate gradients. And, I’m also looking forward to playing my guitar, alone and in company, with fingers that’ll work in ambient temperatures. When it’s cold you just do less. With a little warmth, from within and from others closer to hand I’m sure I’ll do a little more.


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