In May of 2014, I was sitting at work beside Cassie; my supervisor with whom I shared a desk. We were discussing Cassie’s plans to lease a commercial space in Thornbury from which she and her partner of ten years, Paul, could run their film production company, as well as live. They had found a perfect place, but the residence above the studio had one too many bedrooms. Cassie was toying with the idea of taking the place anyway, and getting in a boarder.
I guess you can see where this is heading: I became the boarder.
I gave notice at the Thornbury Crap Museum, and the three of us spent several weekends fixing up the new studio/residence. The shower and hot water system were replaced, leaks in the roof and holes in the floor were filled in, and the glass shop frontage was cleaned. We also ripped up the horrible carpets, polished the floorboards and painted everything. With free range of colours to choose from, I painted my room red.
After nearly a month of DIY work, packing and moving, on the first weekend in July 2014, we were finally ready to move in. By Saturday afternoon, we’d taken up our new residence on High Street.
By Saturday night, Cassie and Paul had broken up.
It was at this point that I realised, finally, in my 60th house, that I will never have control over this lifelong habit of moving around and having weird shit happen. So rather than panicking and moving out again, I leaned into it. I continued nesting. I set up The Thornbury Crap Museum II, and I stayed.
I’ve now been living here for nearly fourteen months. That makes the Thornbury Crap Museum II third in the list of places I’ve lived the longest. And it is wonderful. Unconventional, but wonderful. Cassie and Paul both still live here; after the break up Cassie moved into what had been, for those first four hours after we moved in, the walk-in pantry. She still lives in that pantry, but now shares it with her new husband, who she married just this month, and who is also called Paul. (As a result of this bizarre coincidence, it is a house rule that I not date anybody called Paul, for fear the confusion would just become too much.) We share this place with a very large old dog who behaves like a cat, and so far it’s working out great. And that’s weird.
If anything, I think the weirdness of our situation has made us all braver. All four of us have taken huge leaps outside our comfort zones since being here. Cassie and I both quit our full time jobs in December last year to pursue our artistic endeavours; Cassie to run the film studio full time, me to pursue acting and writing as a real and proper thing. One Paul dove headfirst into an avalanche of projects, both through his regular job and through the film studio, and is discovering for the first time what parts of film production really yank his chain. And the other Paul is discovering, after years of travelling without any real grounding, what it’s like to put down roots and have a home. This weird, ramshackle box is both a sanctuary and a haven for weird ideas. The situation I currently live in could not be more unconventional, and yet I love it.
It’s also, obviously, impermanent. I mean. I have no intention of going anywhere in the immediate future, but by description alone it is clear this is not the place I’m going to retire and grow old in. There will be at least one more move in my future (and if my track record is anything to go by, probably several). But that doesn’t matter. If anything, it adds to the comfort of living here.
Besides, what better way to end Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore than with a story that is obviously not any kind of end at all?