I feel like my spaceship is broken and I can’t get back to my planet.
This isn’t the first time during this go-build-a-house-in-portugal-folly that I’ve thought what a absurdly huge mistake it has been.
Perhaps the first time was when I was trying to extract a building project, a visa and a house sale from a country whose language and mentality bewildered me. Next was when the Global Financial Crisis broke in and stole a third of my life’s savings. Then there was the dog episode and the physical collapse from vertigo, that was quite a problem. The ongoing migraine thing also made me think twice.
I’ve tried to do the right thing. I persevered with the stupid embassy and the stupid builder. I worked hard to start a new way of earning a living. I trusted, I forgave and I turned the other cheek to the backward philosophies of small-town Portugal. And in solidarity with my peasant brethren I left my home to find work to save the farm and so that the children might have new shoes one day. I should be lined up for a sainthood, but no…
Now I’ve fucked up my back.
It’s ridiculous. For the last 5 years I’ve been hurling stones, shovelling sand, carting bags of cement, heaving trays of mortar, loading timber, climbing, hammering, drilling, digging, chopping and lifting.
And I’ve done my back in standing still.
The prognosis is no longer completely dismal, praise to little baby jesus, and it seems I may not have to be cut up after all. The pain has reduced somewhat and I can now walk properly. But now that I’m not preoccupied with the prospect of being paralysed, I’m seeing this latest mortal confrontation in context of The Golden Wet Dream of chucking in a sensible life to go and bottle fruits and fawn over baby goats in an economically non-viable, confused little backwater on the edge of civilisation.
What was wrong with what I had? I’d just put in a new kitchen. The car was hot. I was earning a relative fortune, drank a lot of champagne, threw a lot of parties, had expensive haircuts and I was getting laid. WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?
While a few of my friends and colleagues also took a left turn, those who kept on the highway have made it through the slippery pass, put the chains on the tyres and are well on their way up the mountain now. And they don’t seem too miserable, or corrupt or even jaded. Unlike me, they seem happy and healthy and very, very fit. Indeed, they generously pay for the exquisite lunch we’ve just had before taking an early weekend to drive the family down to the holiday house on the coast. And I say bravo to that. And no, they are not stupid enough to wonder about, much less envy, my idyllic rustic country lifestyle amongst the olive groves and grape vines. And the next door neighbour’s dog shit.
Yeah. So. Back to the spaceship. Here I am stuck in the antipodes, not working, not earning, not even moving really and spending a week’s groceries on 30 minutes’ worth of back treatment. In the New Year (that brave new world) I’ll be back in the job queues (oh can’t wait to do all that again) and starting this bail-out-package-plan all over again. How long will it take? It’s an known unknown, as Donald Rumsfeld would say.
I’m afraid I will never see home again.