On this very day, exactly one year ago, we moved to Bristol.
It was an interesting day. Boyfriend was working in another city for the weekend, and Bee had a Very Important Party that she simply couldn’t miss, so the moving crew consisted of just me, Belle, and two removal men that Belle and I not-very-affectionately referred to as The Chuckle Brothers.
As a seasoned housemover, I was well prepared when they showed up at our door at 9am on moving day. Everything was packed, rooms were cleaned, we were good to go. What I was not prepared for however was just how many breaks The Chuckle Brothers felt it reasonable to take during the day.
They were about ten minutes in, and had loaded up the cushions from the sofa, when I thought I’d better offer them a cup of tea. This, it turns out, was to be a big mistake. I thought they’d take their tea, and have quick slurps between items, but no. Cushions loaded, although not the sofa itself, they clearer felt they deserved a break already, and took their teas, rolled cigarettes, and spent the next fifteen minutes sat on the floor of the van having a nice little chat.
Goodness, I thought, I shan’t be offering them any more tea! (This is my idea of cracking the whip).
Half an hour later though, and I wasn’t left with much choice in the matter.
“Would you mind sticking the kettle on?” Barry, (or it could have been Paul), asked.
A stronger person might have said no, get on with your work, but I’m not terribly good at being assertive face-to-face, so instead I sighed and got out the teabags. They did have all of my stuff literally in their hands – I didn’t want them getting annoyed and ‘accidentally’ dropping things or scrapping any more paint of the walls than was strictly necessary.
The pattern continued throughout the day, and it was several hours before we were ready to leave, and then another three of four hours of intermittent unloading and resting at the other end.
And then they were gone, thanks God, and Belle and I were left in our new house.
It was exciting, but scary.
I had been planning the move for so long, pinning so many hopes on it, as though moving to Bristol was going to be the solution to everything. ‘When we’ve moved to Bristol…’ I must have said at least 100 times in the two years beforehand. There was a lot riding on this move for me, not least the fact that neither Bee nor Belle thought it was a particularly good idea.
As you would expect, those first few months were difficult. When life didn’t immediately become full of new friends turning up on the doorstep, and invitiations to exciting new events and opportunities, I had a little* panic. What if it was all a big mistake? Had I really been thinking of everyone’s best interests? Was city life really the best choice, or was I simply running away from something? From myself?
We’d been living in Bristol for about eight months when I had one of those moments that tips you into a new way of feeling. I was walking to an appointment, and bumped into someone I knew, someone I had made freinds with since moving to Bristol. This doesn’t sound like a big deal I know, but this was the first time I’d properly just happened upon someone in the street like that. Until then, all my meetings had been planned ones, but this was the moment where I thought ‘Wow, I casually know people!’
I walked away from that chance hello with a smile on my face, looking up and around me at the buildings and shops that now had that familiar feel to them, and I knew I hadn’t made a mistake.
That was the moment that Bristol began to feel like home.