This an entry of opposites. A message to tell you how quickly life can changes, and the subtlety and shock it mark across your experience.
Let me tell you about coming to Clacton-by-the-Sea, on the sea coast of Essex in the East of England, Eastern Anglia I see all over the place.
Kent was cold, this place is cold as fuck. As I type, I am wearing a leotard, a pair of tights, a pair of sweat pants, a little cotton sleeveless T-Shirt, a Trinidad Guardian T-Shirt, a fleece sweater, a heavy cotton sweater that I’ve had for six or seven years and has a marvellous hole I adore, and which lay unused in my locker in the office of my last ‘good’ job, forgotten and unused for months in Trinidad, but which has become my good friend in this country. Over that, I have a thin pastel blue blanket, two duvets, and another thin blue blanket covering me up completely, as I sit up to type.
Oh I do have on socks, although they’re admittedly thin. (Maybe I ought to put on another pair?)
One of the reasons it’s so cold, is because my cousin is struggling. I mean, really struggling. (More on that later.) She’s been a single mother for most of her three, teenaged children’s lives. She’s been employed/unemployed for the last year. She’s a typical Cancerian and of the female persuasion at that.
When I mean opposites, I truly mean opposites, because where my cousin in Kent was like a Sphinx, this cousin is chattier than you can imagine. Where my cousin’s two sons were as sullen and lacking in social skills as he was, her children, well it seems, typically English children, but friendly and fairly cool.. but troubled, especially the two boys.
Where my cousin in Kent has been quite happy to have me in his house and ignore me, everyone in this house has been welcoming and including and talk with and interact with me.
Where my cousin in Kent is affluent, and seemingly prosperous and upwardly mobile, my cousin in Clacton is a single mother of three teenagers in the worst throes of adolescence, on benefits, with a house that’s falling down, lacking in central heating and you know, not ‘together’ (that’s as kindly as I can put it).
Where my cousin in Kent, never once tried to help me get a job, despite being involved with more than one business that was apparently taking on people, within 24 hours of my getting here, my cousin L has taken me with her to sign on as a temporary worker at a book packing company near here, working for minimum wage. So it looks like I’ll have a little money coming in while I am in this part of the world. It’s not much, but it is something. She’s also taken me to the local JobCentre, and I’ve got a few leads on things locally, as well as actually written down vacancy info and brought it to me.
Where my cousin in Kent had me in his house, and never once invited me to come with him to have an experience, to see Kent, to show me anything and anywhere, my cousin L has taken me with her almost everywhere, and has invited me to do things with her over the course of the next several weeks.
Where I asked my cousin in Kent to help me get a bank account, my cousin L actually took me to the bank, because the book packing job needs bank details. I still couldn’t get it, because I had asked my cousin in Kent to help me prove my address and he said sure and never did it. Now I have to find 38 pounds to apply for a provisional driver’s license, and it’ll take a few weeks. So, until then, I have to find a way to get paid that works around it.
In the few days since I’ve been here in Clacton, I have truly understood how cold you can be, yet warmth can be all around you.
There are also four cats living in this house, two of which have possessed me. They had slept on me almost every night I’ve been here.
One thing is similar about being here in Clacton, I will probably not be staying here long. However, I’m sure there’s something I have to do here before I go, just not sure just what yet.
In a week from next Tuesday, I go to training at the book packing plant, and well that alone will be worthwhile, because employees get a discount, and there’s a huge sale at Christmas and well I had a look, I’m already salivating.
So is it better here in Clacton. In some ways infinitely yes, in some ways absolutely no. The best of both places would be very comfortable, but this experience is about showing me how I need to get my own space.
However, as this journal will attest I am still in a state of indigence, so I know that this is as temporary as Kent, as transient as most of the places I’ve spent the last year… in fact this year has been a year of transience and transition from one place to the next, one state of mind to the next, an oscillation between points.