At the end of the month, and after seven years which have seemed both quick and slow, I am moving out of my flat. To say that the experience is one of mixed emotions is accurate; though the idea of leaving has been a goal for me for some time now, it will still be hard to leave behind not only the memories of times enjoyed and people loved, but also the potential for something similar in future.
My plans for leaving were both impulsive and long-held. There comes a time, living in a shared house, when the little things start to get to you, I mean really get to you, and that is the beginning of the end. I consider myself to be a laid back person, most of the time, and so the be annoyed and frustrated on a regular basis is something which I consider detrimental to my character. And so, several years ago, in crept the thoughts of a smaller place, and quieter life, perhaps even a place all my own. These tentative plans were frustrated by an unstable work situation, then delayed further by a long period of unemployment; now that I am finally through those times, it seemed right to begin thinking seriously about my next step.
So, I began to plan. I made a list of local letting agencies, scouted areas which I thought might be ideal, put together information in one of my beloved spreadsheets. I thought and considered and planned. Then, a thought occurred to me, namely a step which would be of immense help in putting together the deposit necessary for a new place. My brother had offered to let me stay in his spare room for a few months, while I was out of work, and I thought perhaps it would be good to do that anyway, as a spring board to a new place.
Then, a twist. A flatmate who’d been living at my brother’s place had to leave, and would I like the room? I thought about it for a while, but it seemed instinctively to be a good idea. The value was good, the location amazing, and I would be able to move quickly without worrying about a deposit. Add to this another key feature, namely, I’ll be able to spend more time with my brother, in a way we have not really done since he moved to London. The time we spent recently, hanging out with my Dad when he visited, reminded me of the value of family, and maximising that wherever possible. After all, in a few months or years I may be gone, across the city, or back to New Zealand, and this time seems all the more important in that light.
So, like I said, at the end of the month I am moving. There are many things about the place that I will not miss: the mess, the food left out overnight, the dishes ‘left to soak’ for days on end. The inability of people to understand how to recycle or how not to slam a door. Being woken at three am to carry a drunk person into the house, or the casual loud conversations outside my door at the same time of night. The landlord who is ok, but who makes you feel guilty for asking him to fix anything, and who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of wear and tear. The water from the shower leaking through the ceiling (via the smoke alarm). Weird and wonderful flatmates. Mice.
On the other hand, there are lots of things to which it will be hard to say goodbye: the easy familiarity of a Friday night in, the crazy joy of a Saturday night out, the comforting chatter of a hungover Sunday morning - all with people I would never have met had I not moved in. The outrageously good parties, and ‘Winter denial’ barbecues. The freebies that people would give up or leave behind. The in depth and interesting conversations about anything and everything, the raucous stories and saucy details. Generally, the friendship and camaraderie. Weird and wonderful flatmates. Oh, and my room is pretty cool, too, despite the squeaky bed. I mean, who doesn’t love having their own shower?
The area itself has gone from grimy and dodgy, to upbeat and dodgy. Where once kebab shops ruled the roost - well, kebab shops still rule the roost, but hipster cafes are beginning their inroads. The character of the place has always been its charm, and I will miss the shops and pubs around this way, as well as the back streets and by ways I have come to know so well.But, life is change, and I am looking forward to new places to explore and new pubs to stumble home from. Many of the friendships I have made in my flat will stay with me forever, as will many of the odd memories. As I leave it all behind, I can’t help but ask myself, would I have had it any different? Well, maybe some of it.