a love letter patched up in packing tape: goodbye to the ‘best years of my life’

Once those boxes are packed, and my car is full, boot pulled shut on blankets and bedding, I will have to say goodbye.

And I’m not sure I am ready to close the door and give back the keys on the last three years of my life.

You see- the girl who unpacked boxes full of clothes and ‘essentials’ into a single bed room in halls, sink sitting promptly next to the door, green curtains staring angrily back at you in fluorescent white light- she isn’t the same one who is taping boxes shut and collecting photos, tickets and memories in an album. I moved into that room in those ratty old terraced blocks, with a rail running along the front and sticky floors on my 19th birthday. I puked, bubbles came out of my nose on strangers, I cried, I kissed a boy I didn’t know-not yet. I was so free and so wild and I was hurting from things I thought I had coped with, I thought I had it all figured out. And how can you not feel that way when you are the life and soul of every party? When you are the first at the table with a drink and the last one to put the glass down at 4 am, still getting the grades you want, and people look at you like you are a mess, but the kind of mess they could have a good time with. You are bleach blonde and thin, with tiny tops and tight jeans and a grating brash laugh, and you don’t care who it annoys, who you keep up at night with your shouts and bad ideas.

She grew up a little, bit by bit, finding the parts of her that scared her, the parts that she thought made sense, the parts that had lived dormant and unchallenged, misunderstood and forgotten for so long. It took hitting rock bottom to even see there was a chance to get back up. and now I get to look at the view, in broad, clear and beautiful daylight. I like the view from here. I really really like it.

Southampton wasn’t even an option in 2017 when my results came in. It wasn’t even on my radar. It was too close to home for a girl who wanted to get in the car and drive as far away from home as she could because she was a grown up. She was going to thrive on her own and move on from the mistakes she thought she had made. And I couldn’t do that at home, especially when within 24 hours of receiving my A Level results, grief and upset was taken up in the palm of my hand as I had to say goodbye to someone who means the world to me. And I found myself in a series of chaotic and emotional events in group chats for Southampton, applying for halls in Glen Eyre and thinking about the clubs I had heard of in Bevois Valley (but mostly Jesters).

Southampton, now, is my home away from home (Sorry James). It’s the place I’ve sung and danced (badly). It’s the place of late night trips to the shops and early mornings in The Annex. Its pints in Stags between lectures, long walks to Avenue campus, cozy afternoons writing in The Bridge, kebabs on the pavement (and cheesy chips under my pillow). It is the place where I met people I love, and the place that gave me every opportunity I could think of, to grow and change and learn and love.

And I don’t feel ready to walk away from all of that. To be a grown up, with morning commutes and early nights, and a quick drink with a work friend, not a swift 9 between lectures. Hushed tones when I come in a little too late, and eating my five a day; living the life all graduates have to step in to.

But I will have to accept this. I will have to move on.

I have completely changed my life here, found my ‘normal’ and understood what it means to be me. I’ve held friends close, laughed with people I want to laugh with forever, cried drunk on the bathroom floor and become happy. Really truly happy.

So thank you, to my friends, my housemates, the people who came and went, and to this pretty grim city with your seedy pubs and leafy parks. Thank you for helping me just be. It’s been cut short, like so many things and there have been goodbyes that I haven’t got to say. But, it’s okay. I’ll shut my suitcase and pick up the phone and call you.

Like leaving, like packing up and driving away, I don’t know how to end this. This era of my life is done, and so is this article, and so my final words won’t be mine at all. I don’t want to have the last word here, instead I will let them come from a little yellow bear with an appetite for mischief and honey.

How Lucky Am I To Have Something That Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard?

By Imy Brighty-Potts

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