I've lived here for four years. Four whole years. That may not sound like much, but for me, ex-military brat and then student who moved a fair bit, that's looooooooooooong time. I've lived in twenty-plus locations in my twenty-eight years, so a four year stretch is pretty impressive! It's also the first place I really made my home - I bought things for it, cleaned it, moved stuff around....
I have so many memories of this quirky little space. The first time I saw it, all sunny yellow walls and tiny kitchen (and I remember thinking, "where's the bed?"). Long evenings sinking bottles of wine with friends who came to visit, good chats and silly adventures. Learning how to cook on my trusty ancient brown cooker - not just student fare but real food - roasts, cakes, sauces.
I recall a hundred evenings curled up reading, or on the phone with Hannah or Henry or Naomi, or sat at the table writing a letter, or sending a card of congratulations (wedding, engagement, baby, job, home...), or singing along to showtunes because I was all on my own in the big house. Days wandering around the gardens, Bob bringing me fresh produce, Janet prepping flowers for another village occasion. Emma-dog woofing a greeting as I clicked through the gate, all wagging tale and bushy mane.
Waking at four or five am and writing reports, old episodes of 'Sex and the City' on in the background. The lonely, lonely nights after late stints at school, stuck far away from my friends. The first Christmas I had Dave, my tree, and the delight of adding a few new ornaments each year (one chosen by me, others gifts from friends and pupils). Listening to the rain on the flat roof during summer storms. The total crisp quietness of winter snowfalls.
I've done a lot of growing up here. As well as the aforementioned cooking, I've relaxed into myself over my years here, I think. I'm happier, I'm healthier (and 20 pounds lighter), and I think I know far better what's important to me. I've started to truly love what I do. I've learnt how to drive. I've travelled. I've learnt. I've fallen in love.
I leave this little flat so very happy to be starting the next phase in my life, but also immensely grateful for the thing things I've learnt and the times I'm spent here. And so glad I now upgrade to a proper bed (can you believe I slept four years on a couchbed? :-)).