It's pretty much 12 months since I left everything and everyone I knew and decided that, yeah, what a great idea it would be to move somewhere totally new. For a job I wasn't at all sure about. To a place I knew no-one. At all.
Leaving Leamington was a long time coming and I'm only just getting over the surprise that I actually did.
I think, and close friends would confirm this I'm sure, that various situations in said old town needed to be left behind. You can't spend 12 years in such a small town without certain, uh, mistakes ending up cropping up around every corner. And you can't spend 12 years in such a small town without knowing pretty much every inch of it. And you can't spend 12 years in such a small town without every new person you meet having some weird, pseudo-incestuous connection with everyone else you know, until you feel like you're living in some massive partner swapping orgy of a town. But in a sort of small, boring level.
I don't even want to know the actual degrees of separation between me and certain people in Leamington. Partly fuelled, it has to be said, by my notoriously awful taste in men and the men I choose invariably liking to spread it about a bit.
But it's not all about 'orrible males I wanted to escape. The reason I hadn't left years earlier was basically fear. I'm scared of pretty much everything. When I let my anxieties really take hold, I'm pretty much scared to leave the house. So moving anywhere new on my own really was the bravest thing I have ever chosen to do in my life.
And I'm not great with being brave.
Picking a house at random and finding out that the job I moved for was just awful possibly wasn't the best way to try and settle in to a new city. But I didn't know that until it happened. I can't even remember the first few months. I became so miserable sometime in the middle of last summer that I genuinely didn't know what the hell I was doing. I didn't know why I'd made this huge (yes, yes, I know, some of you have lived all over the world. But for me, this was huge) move. I didn't know what I was going to do, where I was going to go and, mostly who the fuck I was going to talk to.
Friends that I thought would be in touch weren't. I didn't even know what to say to anyone anyway. I had failed to settle in. I had failed to meet people I felt comfortable around. I had failed to enjoy anything York had to offer. I had... just... failed. And when I was so very nicely, and with such compassion, understanding and empathy, told that I "don't fit in" at my place of work and forced to leave, that was the cherry on the York shitcake.
But by then, things had changed so much back home that I knew I couldn't go back. So I could only keep going forward.
Having just moved into a new place a week before being sensitively and, I'd almost go so far as to say, lovingly told to fuck off from my place of employment, I was stuck with big rent and no money. Still, you do what you have to do, right? Turning tricks is an OK career choice in the 21st century I reckon.
And I was back in a bar. Working late, late shifts for minimum wage. Looking around and going: what the fuck just happened? But, as is often the case in life, good shit follows the crap. And being treated like a mug can be the lasting catalyst for change. As soon as I actually left the job, it became clear that it wasn't York that was making me miserable, and I hadn't lost the knack for making friends... I just needed to get out of a situation that was making me so sad that getting up and enduring it every day was literally all I could do with my life.
It was like being released from a cage made of misery. And, even though I proceeded to live in the Flat From Hell and haven't really been able to afford anything other than the basics since then, I started to meet people who have made me happy. Lovely, funny, loyal people to hang out with and to talk to and to write for and to work with.
So, 12 months on... do I have regrets? Nope. York is now my home. I have severed ties with everything in my old life that was making me sad, and kept all the bits that make me happy. I don't feel torn between two places and two lives anymore. I have my life. And it's here. And it's now.