Saying goodbye to a place is a funny thing. Just like saying goodbye to a relationship with a person; there are memories (good and bad), a questioning of whether this is right or not and, ultimately, the lingering feeling that it is time to move on.
For us the feeling that it’s time to leave Brighton has lingered for a few years. In between the desire to leave there have been some wonderful times. People, places, opportunities conspiring to keep us here. Once I knew I was leaving for certain I started to find even more joy in the place. Just like the days before a hairdresser’s appointment when you’re convinced your hair has never looked so good.
But with the hair and with the relationships, if you’ve decided to say goodbye it’s normally the right thing. We can, of course, always be wrong because “to err is human”, and it is worth remembering that none of these decisions – however permanent they may seem at the time – are set in stone. Life is change; things can, and always will, change. If you don’t like a haircut, a decision, a relationship (usually) you can go back on it.
So it is in this spirit, and with this knowledge, that I am moving through my week of ‘lasts’. I wander round the tiny, lovely, flat that has been home for nearly 2 years and wonder how many boxes we’ll need to carry our possessions from Brighton to Manchester.
Some thoughts on saying goodbye to a place that has been home …
What makes a place a home? How do we begin the process of transitioning from being in a place, to living in it, to being at home in it?
A memory from when I was very little. I’m walking through Shrewsbury town centre with my mum, holding her hand and following where she leads. We go through a side alley and end up on the High Street. A point about which I am utterly perplexed, my brain not yet comprehending the twisty-turny geography of this town that will become mine.
“How do you know all the secret ways?” I ask her.
“I know Shrewsbury like the back of my hand” she answers.
Too young to really comprehend this concept, it won’t be long until I too know Shrewsbury like the back of my hand.
We come to know places very quickly once we start truly living our lives there. And is it this, the living of a life in a place, that renders it home?
We come to know a place when we start truly living our lives there…
… and for this reason I didn’t really come to know Brighton until after uni. Once I truly had to start figuring out who I was, where I was going, and learn my way about town to get from one flat viewing to another.
I learnt the routes around Brighton by walking to view potential homes. Of which I’ve had 8 in this city. 8 homes in 9 years, or 9 if you include halls of residence (which I don’t).
And now it’s time to move on. People keep asking me why we’re leaving, as humans are prone to needing answers. I used to fumble through our reasons, and then settle for the most understandable “for affordable property” and substantiate that with “and there are other reasons too”. But today I decided I’m not going to say that anymore. We are leaving for new adventures, that is it.