In Someplace Else...

By Lucy Harbron - 20:38

Paul told Holly ‘no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.’

But Paul hadn’t lived there that long. Paul didn’t have lurking men and ghosts of dead brothers. Paul didn’t have the wishes that Holly had, for a better life and better people in it. Paul didn’t have years of history in that unfurnished apartment, of failed plans and broken-down hopes.

Maybe running away was exactly what she needed. In the book she disappears, you’re left hoping that she goes off and finds the life she was looking for, the inner peace and satisfaction; but of course, the film ends differently, with a kiss in the rain and her life stays the same. I say let the wild thing run, Paul.

I’ve recently run, or maybe more gently packed up my life put it in a car and drove. But it feels a lot like running, vastly different from the yearly moves I’ve been doing back and forth to Sheffield for the last 3 years of my life. This time it’s untethered. I’m not going for a term, not returning to my comfortable nest of friends and classmates, the easy embrace of uni and lectures and nights out on weekdays. This time I’ve simply, moved. For the first time in my life, I’m unattached to anything. No student loans, no guaranteed trips home, no safety nets, just me. It should be terrifying, moving somewhere completely new with no end date or structure. But it wasn’t? I sunk into my bed at the end of my 3rd day here and nothing came to mind, I rested easy and that’s when you know it feels like home.

Instead of shakes of fear I’ve found sighs of relief here. I catch myself walking home and just feeling so grateful to live here now, partly because it’s beautiful and exciting, but partly because it’s not Sheffield.

It’s such a privilege to run away. To have waited so long to be able to leave and then to finally have gone and left and found base somewhere else, it’s reviving. I love unknown streets and struggling over directions and wandering recognising absolutely no one. After years of spiky places, pricked with old memories and cordoned off, a fresh canvas is needed. All-new, untouched, unhaunted and ready for me.

I love knowing no one and no one knowing me. I love being able to choose what to tell people about myself, finding myself in light conversation with a stranger and giving them the tiniest slither into my life without fear of mutual friends. If I wanted to adopt a new name and walk with a fresh gait, I could. Each day on my walk to work I play pretend with all the possible people I could be. In my Burberry trench I like to be a lawyer or something high level and SUPER busy, I clutch my coffee and walk a little faster. In my dresses, I walk slower and a little lighter on my toes, I like people to think I’m some kind of creative with no schedule and nowhere to be, but in reality, I’m just making myself late.

If I could I’d go into a photo-booth each morning, capture the character in the poses they choose and be surprised when the pictures all still come out as me.

I love the chance to abandon myself in anonymity. I love that I can do that here, building from nothing, able to choose the parts of myself to bring with me. The rest I left behind, all the bitter upset parts got left in a bag by the door I locked and left. It still there and I ran, moved toward, left it someplace else. And anything here is new, as if there’s a moment of reintroducing yourself to yourself each time you shake the hand of a stranger, knowing every part of you is fresh to them and you can choose the person they meet.

The choice feels strangely light. Rather than the fear of being in a new place having to build a life up from the foundation, it feels so clean and easy. It’s revitalising to know that everything is new again, that the geography reflects inwards somehow leaves old wounds with old places and lets it all clear.

I’ve never really understood it before and I still couldn’t tell you why or how it feels like it works. When you’ve got the soft sensitive soul of a creative, places get painted so easily. Cities become overpopulated with memories and what-ifs, and no longer having to sit and stew in it is incredible. So much half-baked healing seems to have come to completion, so many linger ghosts slipped away when they no longer had a place name to hang onto. I feel safe in the knowledge that this city is mine now, those ghosts never lived here.

I love it already, because I don’t know it and it doesn’t know me. It doesn’t know all the stories of the past, and frankly, it couldn’t care less.

I know one day Manchester will end up just like Sheffield. All its places will gain people and memories, I will start to avoid certain streets and places, the romance of anonymity will fade further and further. But it’s big and strong, so I think I’ve got some time to be a wild thing, run around finding all these different versions of myself, all except the ones I left on the other side of the peaks.  

And when it does start to make me shiver, I’ll likely just move again.

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