I spent the longest evening of the year, 21st June, sitting on my bed cosied up under blankets drinking tea and eating a celebratory slice of chocolate cake. It was just what I needed.
Earlier that day Emmy, an old Austrian friend and I had traipsed up hills to Brandon Hill and climbed the winding staircase to the top of Cabot Tower with weary legs. We reached the top triumphant and gazed across the city laid out like a blanket before us, the wind and four years at our backs. The streets were drenched in sunshine and the world felt full.
My room is empty now. The house is empty too. The streets feel empty and so does Bristol. There are two more days to gallivant about town as I wish, and – my belongings miles away, my room sparse – I feel strangely free and without care. We’ll see where the next days take us…
I have a long tradition of over-scheduling my last days in any place. It happened in Regensburg and it’s happening now. In the last few days I’ve visited the botanic gardens twice with two different people, enjoyed/despaired at several coffee-date-goodbye-meetings, attended a birthday barbeque, taken two day trips and scrubbed this dusty house from floor to ceiling (the place is so old I’ve decided it will never look clean…)
I’ve had a lot of time to think and, though I hold no sadness about leaving this crumbling, musty house, I am sad to leave the memories which played out here. When I think back on my year here, I think not of the broken heating or the icy cold in the heart of winter. I think not of the noisy neighbours and rattling windows. Instead a hazy film of images strung together clumsily seem to dance across the cinemas of my mind – William in a checked shirt lying under my bicycle on the front steps with the scent of autumn in the air. A room filled with people talking and laughing, eating cake off plates laid on a picnic blanket on the floor. I think of the mornings I was so excited to learn, and the evenings spent cooking together. The days spent snuggled up under blankets from the winter cold. The view across rooftops and treetops from my third-floor window.
It may be a while before I come to terms with what Bristol meant to me. And with what the ending of this time means for the rest of my life. But I have a city I love, and for that I am grateful. And I’m so excited for the future!