I’ve just realised why I feel a bit weird today. It’s because I’ve become the couple I bought my flat off 9 years ago. Married couple, little kid, respectable looking clothes, moving out of London for more space…you know what I thought of that couple? That they looked as boring as hell and that I’d never become them (I was 22). Well fast forward to 31 and here I am tidying up the baby’s things for what I hope will be the last viewing on the flat I’ve loved passionately and shared my life with for the best part of a decade.
I’m taking the final step into my new life, I’m buying a house and leaving London. We have found our “dream house” in a great location, great commuter links, garden, off street parking…basically everything that my cool London pad doesn’t have. And much as I love it and am excited to have stairs again, and a proper front door…and somewhere to sit out with a coffee in the morning in my PJs without risking concern for my mental wellbeing from passers by, I do feel a bit sad.
I guess it’s like walking away from a relationship you know has to end; even though it’s you who initiated the break up, you’re still allowed to be sad about it. I’ve had some great times here! The walls still bear the scars of birthday banners (my now husband used Sellotape), the new owner will never know that chip in the kitchen floor tiles was from a wedding-planning mug-smashing incident or that the mark on the floor in the bedroom is from the flat-pack bed assembly night where we didn’t argue! They’ll never know that the bath tub has seen more “serious chats” than anywhere else in the flat, that I stood at that kitchen counter trying to stay calm whilst I was in labour. They’ll never know that I called my mum as soon as I stepped out of my first viewing here and shouted “Mum! It’s the one!” And she said “I’ll help you, just do whatever you can to get it – it’s meant to be!” And that I won’t be able to call her and tell her about the perfect house we’ve found or that she was right when she said we’d walk over the threshold and know it was “the one” straight away. This lounge is the last place I saw my mum when she was still “my mum” before she got too ill to really know who we were anymore. She was sleeping right there, on that sofa, too sick to hold my new baby but was determined to come and be with us despite the fact she had less than a month left.
There are so many memories here – not least trying to creep up the outside stairs quietly at 4am on a Thursday morning after “work drinks” turned into going “out out” on a school night, or walking round and round the kitchen trying to decide how best to tell my husband we were having a baby. Amazing times, laughter, tears, celebrating the biggest moments of my life, all happened within these four walls.
But I’m packing up my old life and passing it onto the next 20-something to enjoy. Shoreditch is just a £20 cab ride away, I’ll tell them. The Thai in the village is great. There’s an Italian that delivers wine, here are the instructions for the boiler I never quite worked out how to use. The marathon starts just out there…you can see the bonfire night fireworks from this window…
I hope whoever ends up here can feel the happiness of the flat. If these walls could talk, well, I’d probably bribe them to stay quiet to anyone else, but I wouldn’t mind a reminisce, just the two of us.