Moving on from Brighton

On Tuesday, I had what is probably my last trip to the flat where I’ve lived for the last seven years. Empty, it wasn’t the same place I remembered, as if the memories are packed away with my possessions. I was only there briefly, removing the last few items, including the the fold-up table I’d worked from the day before.

Leaving Brighton has been on the cards since January this year, so it doesn’t feel like a shock to me. But with the pandemic and everything else going on, I’ve not spoken much about leaving, so a lot of people were surprised. I haven’t got around to arranging a moving party yet either, but will do soon. (Soon-ish, anyway).

I’ve lived in Brighton for 27 years, apart from occasional six-month breaks in Norwich, Hastings, Hoboken NJ, Coventry and Derbyshire. Even when I was living away from Brighton it was the center of my life. Now, I am looking forward to new things. I have a few plans but I’m taking some time to relax and settle before acting on them. I don’t feel sad at all. I had a great time in Brighton, and I’m sure I’ll be visiting regularly. I’d been thinking about leaving for some time, but the upheavals of the pandemic gave me space to take the decision. My main feeling is excitement about the future.

Things to do before I leave town

Things to do before you leave town… It’s been a long drawn-out process, but it looks as if I am close to selling the flat. Obviously, it’s best to take nothing for granted when moving house, but the schedule is finally falling into place and… if everything goes through, it will be sooner than I expected. Maybe even this month.

The next few weeks are likely to be a mess of undignified packing and logistics. I’m not going to get chance to say goodbye to everyone (hardly anyone!) before I leave, but I will be back relatively soon to say goodbye properly. Far better to enjoy that, than trying to squeeze it in among everything else I need to do before leaving. And, you know, I’d hate to have a big occasion then have things fall through and be here another four months.

I first moved to Brighton in October 1994, and the town has changed a lot. I still love it, but I also need a change. I want to settle into a new place and build new patterns, find new landscapes. I’ve left Brighton before, but that was always with the intention of coming back. This time, it will be for good.

The immediate future holds lots of putting things into boxes. I’m looking forward to having a calming cup of tea with that out of the way. Then, I will get on with organising a leaving party.

Sorry to anyone who’s hearing about this for the first time. The pandemic is a weird time, and I’d also not wanted to jinx things.

Also! How fucking exciting! I am going to be living somewhere new this summer!

Back to Reality (Day 419)

I’ve not posted anything about the pandemic since mid-March, when I marked a year of lockdown. Back then, I was suffering a bad case of the blues, and not doing well with continued confinement.

It’s now almost two months later. The case numbers and deaths are well down. Lockdown restrictions are easing. The vaccine programme is having an effect, even if I can’t book an appointment for myself within 20 miles of home. The tension of the last few months is fading.

I’ve been fortunate with much of the pandemic, but I found myself very withdrawn in the first part of the year. It’s taking time to get back into the flow of life. The last indoor party I went to was in March 2020. I’ve not eaten at a restaurant since October. I can’t remember the last film I saw in a cinema. Along with that, I’ve lost whole aspects of my social life. There are people who I’ve not been in touch with since this started. I’ve missed the small conversations I’d have when seeing people I knew at events; the chance meetings at parties. Gaps have opened up in my life.

(I recently saw my parents for the first time since the Christmas lockdown. They gave me a bag of goodies they’d planned to give me on Boxing Day. The vegan Christmas cake was now out of date).

The biggest change is being back in the office. While it’s a strange experience being in such an empty space, it’s good to have some variety in my life – even if we’re not supposed to talk to colleagues but via Webex video software.

A few weeks back, I had my first proper night out in almost a year. We were in a back garden, rather than a park or the beach. I took an Uber across town and drank cocktails by a firepit that hurled smoke in our faces. It wasn’t normal, not for April, but it felt good. I actually got to chat with a couple of people that I didn’t know well, and took a taxi home after one. That was good.

I don’t put it beyond Johnson’s government to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but I’m starting to feel hopeful that this has an ending. I’ve some friends who have been sheltering since this started who have finally set a date to be reunited with family. That date is months off, but it finally feels plausible.

There are lots of gaps in life right now, but the flip side to that is getting to do things again for the first time. Cinemas, theatre shows, festivals eventually. It’s slowly coming back.

April Monthnotes

April turned out to be a much better month than March, not least because I’m working in the office again. While I prefer working from home, I find that doing it under pandemic conditions is difficult. Office life is currently austere, but the daily change of scene is improving things. On top of that, I’ve been socialising more, which is making me feel more like myself. The first loosening of lockdown restrictions meant I could visit family for the first time in months, and it was great to head out of the city.

The increased mobility has made my daily steps total much easier. My average was a more convincing 14,414, with a maximum of 33,472. I now need to focus on fixing my bad back (like, actually doing my physio regularly) and doing more than simply walking, as nearly four months of lockdown has had a significant impact on my general fitness.

I watched several films, all of which were pretty decent. Godzilla vs Kong was a bit of a mess, but entertaining enough as a watch-at-home blockbuster. Suspiria and No Country for Old Men were intense, Palm Springs was an awesome timeloop film that I’ve yet to write up. Most enjoyable was probably Get Duked, a low budget classic recommended by Cat Vincent.

I’ve continued to be unfocussed with my reading, meaning I finished only a couple of books on politics.

That was a long, hard winter! But it feels good to be into spring and able to make plans once more!