When people hear about what I’m about to do, they usually say something like ‘Oh my God, you must be so excited!’ And well, yes, I am excited. Of course I’m excited. How couldn’t I be excited? I’m about to do potentially the biggest, boldest thing I’ll ever do in my life!
But tonight, any feelings of excitement have been drowned deep in a pool of sadness. Because tonight, finally, I moved out of the shared house I’ve been living in for the last 18 months on Ivanhoe Road in Liverpool.
I always knew going away travelling was going to include making some sacrifices – chief among them giving up my room in the house, and giving up my job, and moving away from my family. I always knew giving up these things was going to be deeply upsetting. After all, I’m not going travelling because I hate my job, or hate my family, or hate my friends, or hate my life and have nothing else to stay here for. I’m not going in search of a new life because the one I have here is completely shit. Rather, I am leaving behind some friends who I love and care about deeply. I’m moving out of a house where I’ve positively relished every second of life for the last 18 months. I’m quitting a job that I really enjoy doing, have immersed myself in, and (some might say) am actually quite good at. And I’m leaving behind a family who I love, who care for me, and who I’m desperately lucky to have.
…So, you might ask, if life is so bloody brilliant here, then why the fuck am I leaving it all behind to go travelling?!
Tonight, before I left my house for the final time, I sat in my now empty bedroom, staring at blank walls, a stripped bed and an empty desk, all of which were once filled with the detritus of a busy life that I lived every second to the fullest. And I finally gave in and let myself have a little cry. I don’t mind admitting that. It does go against my much loved ‘well hard bloke’ persona, and in a minute I may have to talk about beer and birds and football and stuff. But I don’t mind admitting that I shed more than a few tears.
As I did, I remembered all the things I’ve done in that house and I reflected on how living there has changed me as a person.
I think about change a lot. This is because I like change. Change is good. Change means we learn, we evolve, we develop. We’re all always changing. Often you don’t realise how much something has changed you until, with the benefit of hindsight, you can reflect and draw out the moments and experiences that were fundamental in shaping the person you are.
As I sat there and sobbed quietly to myself in my empty former bedroom earlier on this evening, I realised that the 18 months I’ve lived in that house have changed me, turning me from someone who thinks of the world in terms of things I’d like to do, into someone who thinks of the world in terms of things I can do. Today, nothing is out of reach. Nothing is too ridiculous. Not even getting on a load of busses and trains, and keeping going until I’m as far away from where I started as possible. Indeed, the irony is not lost on me, that the positive experiences I’ve had while living in that house are ultimately leading me to move out!
In my view, the things I’m moving out to be able to go and do – ie, travelling the world – have an intrinsic value worth more than the sum of the sacrifices I’m making. Obviously I think that, or else I wouldn’t be doing it! And I will be excited in time for those things which are about to come, and which will form the subject of much of the rest of this blog.
But I’ll miss every single thing about living in Ivanhoe Road. And I’ll miss Gavin, and Jess, and Laura, and Adam (Adam II, as he’s affectionately known), and Kathryn. I’ll miss them all with all my heart, those wonderful people, and I’ll miss the whole life I’m leaving behind, for which I have a great amount of fondness. And – again – I’ll miss Andy’s Chippy, which I hugged as I walked past one last time tonight. See photo. Not posed.
But I’m leaving those things behind because I’ve got a chance to go and do something dramatic with my life. In a very short time to come the sadness I feel today will wash away, and it will be replaced with something else. I don’t yet know what that something else will be, and I don’t yet know what changes those things will bring my way. But I’m looking forward to finding out!
Tonight, as we walked back towards the house one final time, I turned to Jess and said, ‘You know what? It’s been a bloody good laugh living here.’ And it occurred to me that, at bottom, if you can reflect on life in such terms often enough, then you’re not doing bad at all.
So here’s to all the bloody good laughs – to those which I’m yet to have, and those which I’ll never forget. And I’ll never forget any of those I had, numerous though they are, while I lived in Ivanhoe Road.
(Booze birds footy cars sport general-hard-bloke-stuff)