This is what contentment is…

I’ve just come to the end of a chapter, and the crackles have stopped. I hear the gentle click…whirrrrr…clunk as the needle lifts off the record and slides back into it’s little resting place. As I lift up the dustcover, the smell of the vinyl wafts into my nostrils. There’s something quite satisfying about the aroma of records. It’s similar to breathing in  the freshly printed pages of a new book, and there is only one way I can describe it – comfortingly inspirational.

I need an actual word that combines this comfort and inspiration aroma.

You just don’t get it from a CD or a cassette tape. And you definitely don’t get it from your iTunes account.

Tonight I’m snuggling down with my ewok  (in bear form) and Caitlin Moran (in book form) as we listen to Ella Fitzgerald (in vinyl form). When I turn over to the B side, Ella hands over the stage to Billie Holiday. It’s an old record, recorded live somewhere many years before I existed on this earth. And yet Ella and Billie’s voices come through with just the occasional crackle as the recording spins on my turntable. Their legacy lives on through the recording of their music. Their words to the audience carry through too – and faintly you can hear them respond to Billie and Ella by applauding, whistling and cheering in the distance between each song.

I can’t help but think how lucky I am. I’m sitting on a bed, a gorgeous handmade quilt sewn together for many hours, weeks and months by my Mum’s best friend in Oklahoma in honour of my 30th birthday a few years ago. I’m wearing my blue jeans with holes in the knees, my coral dress over the top (a trademark ‘koala’ thing to wear dresses with jeans) and my pin that announces that I’m a feminist with a to-do list (a long one too). I have fairy lights sellotaped up on the slanting walls of my attic room. A room filled with bookcases and a carpet covered in piles of stuff – uni work, a purple ukulele (it was the cheapest in the store, but I love it’s purpleness still), Girlguiding resources, folders, plastic boxes filled with printer paper, cards, books that won’t fit on the shelves, jewellery given to me for 16th, 18th, 21st, graduation… I have so much wealth. For sure, most of the people I know have jobs that have sick pay, they can afford dental care and to go on holidays. They have living rooms to keep their bookcases and DVDs. They probably have an actual wardrobe and pictures in frames rather than ones in bags and cupboards or stored under beds waiting for the dream of having walls to hang them on. My living situation is far from ideal, but I made my choice when I decided to not stay in a job that was making me sick. I made it again when I decided to never use a credit card or loan to pay for a car or an education or a holiday and save until I could afford to do it instead.

I live an unusual life.

Sometimes I wish I could be ‘normal’.

Sometimes I cry in the shower wishing that life had moved on already.

And then there are evenings when I’m cocooned in a quilt with my favourite jeans, appreciating the fact I got to choose them myself in an actual shop, cuddling an ewok with the softest fluffy fur. I’m able to read Caitlin’s words and respond to them. And I can breathe in the beautiful smell of vinyl before I push down the dustcover and press the start button…and listen to the words of two very talented women.

I am content.

I may even be hopeful…because today we finally hit some double digits on the thermometer and as I drove to the supermarket I had the tunes blasting and my window popped a little bit open in the sunshine. If vinyl smells comfortingly inspirational, sunshine feels like liberating energy.

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