Letters From Lockdown 80: Louise Chase

Dear Southampton,

So much has changed since we last met. In manyways, I feel like a completely different person, changed and moulded by circumstance.

And I must apologise, right out of the gate; I took you for granted. That freedom to explore to my heart’s content, spend hours in the park that I have still yet to visit, go back to that local bookshop and pour my heart and soul into its shelves. Maybe even that weekly trip to Forbidden Planet even though I say every time, “I won’t buy anything,” and buy something anyway.

I was a scared new student when I arrived in 2018, and being whisked away prematurely in March this year broke my heart. I still have much to learn about you.

The city and its people have taught me so much and made me capable of so much more professional (read: basic human skills I should’ve really known by now) goals – without you, would I have been given the opportunities I have? Would I know my heart lies in historical fiction and embrace my strangeness? Could I ever have mustered the courage to just hop onto a train last minute to attend a film premiere? I doubt it.

There are still people I need to see, foods to try – heck, even go into a nightclub once just to try it out. And it feels like it will be another full academic year before I can meet you again.

And after all of this, I still went and hid in my room 90% of the time.

I have lists of things I want to see and do – I’ve had it since March when we all thought it would be all over before the summer – and not one has been checked off. For an archaeology student interested in museum curation, it is horrific of me to have yet to visit any of your museums.

Studying from home has been nice to catch up with the family and the pets… but part of me is wondering whether I will ever truly catch up with Southampton. When I return, the majority of the people will be different. They will have gone on to do something I so desperately wish to.

I feel left behind, stuck behind my desk in the back bedroom, researching at 2am.

So many regrets lie beneath the surface. And perhaps I should be grateful that I am still one year from completing my degree, so I can at least have one final moment to savour the sweetshop in Marlands, the adrenaline rush to try and get the final spot on the final bus, meandering through that sea of people outside the Students’ Union to bundle up in the Bridge.

And just maybe, when this is all over, I will get that tattoo I was supposed to get back in April. A small piece of you, there, forever.

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