Cottage Cat Meow – I told them I was leaving forever

Oh, hello there! Willow sits on the window sill. She’s the first to spot any visitors arriving to the cottage and she’s always on the look out. Looking out the window into the garden and the world beyond it.

In the quiet street where the cottage stands not many cars go past and when one does, or if there’s any commotion for that matter, Willow is quick to investigate, jumping up onto the window sills or bounding to the front door.

Around the back of the cottage the french doors lead into the kitchen, the perfect place to receive guests, for the courtyard is much too chilly on afternoons like this.

But what is a van cat doing in a cottage? I hear you ask, and it’s quite a story so I hope you have time for a cup of tea.

Just as we arrived at the blueberry farm last year on a whim, so too did we book our ferry tickets to Tasmania. In what was meant to be a two month visit, Steph and I were both presented with some opportunities that required some careful thought.

I told them I was leaving forever. But when we left Hobart in 2015 I always had the notion that one day we would return. Some said I’d last 3 months on the road, others a year or two. Six years later here we are back in my home town wondering what is next, walking those streets with the reassurance of the mountain always in my peripheral vision like some sort of.. guardian wombat?

We parked our van at my brother’s house and had many a meal with my sister-in-law and nephews. Steph found a great job in the city working for a Not-for-profit and when she left for work I read the realestate guide.

I got the shock of my life – Hobart changed. The affordable capital was not so affordable anymore, house prices had exploded, and any dream of returning to live here seemed unrealistic.

Why did I sell that house in 2014? I asked myself. My eyes glimmered with dollar signs that weren’t mine. Foolish. To start again would mean back to the 9-5 grind – but for what purpose?

Van life gave us endless summers, financial independence, and self sufficiency. But as I attempted to transpose that philosophy to living back in Hobart I was left with cold winters, house envy, and leaning on my brother for a place to park our van. To put it simply, long term van life in the city sucks. It really sucks. And yes, we could find other places to park the van, but it’s hard to live with that feeling that at any minute of the day or night a friendly council ranger might move us along.

I was compelled to live back in Hobart but I could not tell you why. Did I just want it because I knew I couldn’t have it? I walked around South Hobart and the ice wind off the mountain hit my face. Two blocks away was the house mum and dad brought me home from the hospital to, and I wondered if these streets were even mine anymore.

Was I giving up on a dream, and for what? Was I even allowed to? I wrote a book on it after all..

At night the traffic woke me if I wasn’t already, and I’d never felt such a longing to stay somewhere yet wished to leave so terribly. I thought of how I was going to get out of that funk [acute depressive episode].

I just needed to get some good sleep.

But, the reality is this. One day Steph and I will need a place to live and with the market going the way it is I feel a great deal of pressure to set that plan into motion now rather than later.

As I reached page 418 of my realestate search results Willow sat herself on my laptop. I tried to move her out of the way but she bit my hand! I conceded – for a cat’s protest is never without requisite.

So, as Willow snuggled into my chest I listened to her soft purrs and I felt ashamed. Ashamed that for the past month I had let greed back into my life as I imagined selling off houses that weren’t mine and lamenting over the if-I-had-just-have and the had-i-have-dones.

As Willow continued her purrs I recalled a simple thought. If one is fed, sheltered, and loved yet still not content, then contentment can be found in helping others. I needed to refocus and divert my self-indulgent mindset into something useful, and there I will find my sense of purpose, and hence shed my thoughts of the greed I had succumbed to.

And, there it was. The job. The job of my dreams. Working on the marketing team for a cat shelter, raising awareness for the kitties in need and community education programs. Now, I’m going to spare you the details as I have already written about what it was like to drive into work on my first day, but just to be clear, yes, I got the job!

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. As I prepared for that first day I felt the gratitude and hope in me return, and the greed and the longing floated away. I realised that it had happened again. I had been saved by a cat (cats?) once more…

It was to be, we would stay in Hobart though not as I initially imagined it. Living in the van over winter whilst working in the city was not an option, we needed a home base where we could keep the van during the week and continue our travelling adventures on our days off.

With rental prices so high in the city the thought of living in a small apartment with Willow made me sad. Then we found the place. Just thirty minutes from Hobart in a quiet village sat a Georgian cottage on an even quieter street. It was fully furnished and the rent was cheap. It was perfect.

And so, that is the rather long story of how Willow became a cottage cat – well, during the work week at least! Because you can take the cat out of the van but you can never take the van out of the cat.

We are here now, and in good time. Steph has just made some scones, and we just have to be careful with Willow because I can guarantee she will try to sneak some cream!

After tea we sit on the couch and Willow is quick to settle on the blanket over Steph’s lap. She kneads the fabric and her gentle purr soothes our hearts.

On Monday I have to go to work, and I can’t wait to say hello to all the kitties again, and do my part in helping them find their homes and the humans that will love them forever.

One day we will buy a block of land in the forest and build a tiny house, but until then we have our food, we have our shelter, and most of all we have our love.

Yes, I told them I was leaving forever, and I did find my forever, and that’s Steph and Willow, and the contentment we have made for ourselves.

* * *

Thank you for reading. Finding ourselves in Hobart again has been challenging, and just as every wrong turn has lead us to where ever we have found ourselves, so too did this one.

We have some exciting adventures coming up for you. As the winter descends so too will the snowfalls in the highlands and we can’t wait to spend some time camping there. We just have to figure out a way to keep Willow’s toe beans warm!!

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