Manchester To London | Thoughts From The Train

By Lucy Harbron - 20:00

Even on my fourth go round, I’m still unsure whether I’ve developed anything to say about packing up and leaving. If I wanted to, I reckon I could write paragraphs about the strange labour of wrapping up plates and praying frames don’t arrive with cracks. There’s definitely something to say about the way the task numbs you in relation to your belongings and their significance in its need for focus so you don’t forget things you’d later end up missing. I could create some metaphor about plants in a box, how life moves easily from place to place with protection, blah blah. But right now I’m on a train chasing boxes of my things across the country and I have nothing important to say, I don’t think.

I’ve never been good at letting go of things. I could still tell you an insult that hurt me in 2013, or the exact phrase my first boyfriend used to dump me. I’m still mourning my old Sheffield flat, so I know the process of grieving my Manchester home will be too long to hit 20 minutes after handing a key over. I’m sure it’s a wave still building out at sea somewhere, ready to crash down when I next see a photo or my friends go out without me. So far the current is more soothing than harsh, hitting against my ankles but still letting me walk as I chose to move on.

Unlike Sheffield or my parents’ home, the choice to leave wasn’t done for me by time. My year in a uni house hasn’t bled out, the demand of education isn’t forcing me to move place to place with a calendar, I was scratching at the door begging to be let out of academia or a shit hometown. Nothing was pushing or pulling me from my flat, it was the first place I truly settled of my own accord and made a home of, building a life up from nothing but a few friends and a couple of boxes. Staying in the same place for longer than anywhere beyond my family home, my Manchester home in the heart of NQ was a home, a real home, proper home with all my addresses changed and bills in my post box. Nothing would’ve stopped me from staying there forever, getting married there, bring babies home to its exposed brick walls as the clock for once didn’t dictate my circumstance. It saw me through two years of seasons and I saw more of it than anywhere as its walls held me in lockdown, staring down of the balcony to learn the side street like my own skin. I knew exactly how to turn the tap on so it didn’t splash me, I knew the best places to put washing to dry in each weather condition, I knew my routine to a comforting extreme, touching the door lock twice each night for over two years now. And I don’t even know what my new flat’s lock looks like.

I pushed myself out and I don’t have anything wise to say about it without sounding like a girl boss motivational quote. Maybe later I’ll write them out and edit them over pictures of my 12-year-old self in the I love London hoody I demanded to own and my mum tried to demand I bring on the move with me. Across my wonky teeth face I’ll scroll ‘I’m outgrowing my own potential’, or that one about comfort zones or whatever. But I am, I’m venturing out of my night-time routine into a life my younger self would’ve scrapbooked about and I’m sure after a good night’s sleep and a moment of sadness, I’ll be ecstatic about it, I just need to wait for her to wake up or break through the brain fuzz to scream her excitement to me.

Maybe that’s the big thing I have to say. Less about the act of moving, and more about the way that growing up is just gathering the hopes of all the versions of yourself. Something about carrying the dreams of your younger self in the same hand as your adult potential, and striving to reach further for both of you even if it’s a scary big stretch. A pack up your dream flat and move away kind of stretch. A listen to Taylor Swift ‘Never Grow Up’ on the train after your parents wave goodbye kind of stretch. But doing it because you know the 12-year-old you used to hope you’d be this brave.

And I’m being that brave. My god I’m going to miss that home and the friends and the life I had there, but I’m being brave and I’ll think about it every time I see a cheesy tourist hoody. I’ll squeeze little Lucy’s hand each time I know a tube route without googling it, at any party, in every moment I feel her heart flutter at my life as a reminder to remember, not take for granted, keep being braver and bigger and better than she hoped, moving larger than life even as the smallest fish in a big new pond.

Yeah I think that’s it. On the fourth go round, I have nothing truly significant to say about moving. But I could write novels about all the ways I felt the gaggle of my past selves demand attention in the last week or so, all egging me on, staring in awe, begging me to not forget days they spent daydreaming in Stockton about sitting on a train moving down to London as I am right now.

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