It's a beautiful thing when the mind commits to what the heart wants and the feet are eager to go. Unfortunately for me I’m not quite there yet. I suppose it’s inevitable that once you plant a bomb, everything blows apart before coming back together again. It’s a disconcerting but necessary part of the process. As the dust settles on my decision to move to Manchester, the initial euphoria I felt at finally acting out a long-awaited dream is giving way to a whole flood of new emotions for which I wasn’t prepared.
One face said it all. Five of us were sitting around my friend’s kitchen table drinking wine and gossiping. Laughter rang in the air until the faint drum of fingertips on wood aroused their suspicion. “I have something to tell you all.” Blank faces. Here goes the bomb. And in that split second between shock and celebration, her face dropped in a way I know only too well. You know - when you’re fighting to look very, very happy when inside you feel like your guts have just been torn out.
That night, somewhere along the Thames between Bankside and Tower Bridge, I learned an important lesson about friendship. I know that a side effect of this move will mean certain people will slip off the edge of my little world and become vague shadows. Some of them I’m resigned to. The ‘season, a reason, a lifetime’ adage rings true, but there are some people I’m desperate not to lose. It’s been a conscious decision for me to isolate myself in a strange city, 200 miles away from my sister and friends and 750 miles from my mum. The heartbreak and hurt is sobering (you can tell I’ve been listening to Ben Howard’s ‘Black Flies’ on repeat), and I know I’m going to have to work my arse off to keep these friendships strong. Because proximity makes friendship convenient. I’m flaky. That’s my flaw. And that’s got to change.
Life can be so fucking bittersweet. Every time I think about moving I can’t decide if my nausea is caused by butterflies or the lump in my throat that grows larger and larger as the days pass by. When I think about leaving my friends - my silver linings - I feel like I’m being wrenched apart down the middle. But it’s okay. All of this soul-searching is painstakingly nudging me towards a resolution. A way to not leave them behind or be left behind. After all, I know I’m no good to them if I stay and force them to navigate through my melancholy at having fallen out of love with my life here. The rain’s been beating against the windows a lot recently. I’m taking that as my signal to go.
There’s beauty in the brutality, I just have to find it. So I’m going to be a walking contradiction for a little while. The text messages and emails are flowing, my diary is filling up fast with coffee dates, gallery excursions and half-hearted attempts to tick off some kind of bucket list before I leave the capital. Not to mention the ‘last supper’ I have set up with my friends. God help me. I just have to stitch myself back together, lick my wounds and get on with it.