If you walk into my house you might notice that nothing is quite finished. The pictures are washi taped to the walls, there are shelves and cupboards stacked against the walls. There are no curtains in my bedroom and if you try to hang up your jacket you might notice that the coat hanger is balanced on one screw. I don't know the names of any of my neighbours here. I am not registered to vote. My kid's name is not down on any school waiting lists. I don't have a dentist here. There is a reason for all of this. That reason is February 24th 2013.
That date I wrote in my diary, in tears on 24th August 2012. The morning I left London. I sat broken, with my broken heart in my broken home. My life flatpacked around me. And I wrote 24th February 2013 - I will be coming home.
My anxiety had peaked. I sat in my best friends house in tears, the day before we moved. I realised why I was so sick at the thought of Birmingham - because I didn't want to leave London. I loved my house there. I loved my life there. I had friends, amazing friends. I had fallen in love with a boy in London. I had this picture of Birmingham, and it was everything I hated about the life I used to live. I don't know how else to describe it, but the first days I moved to London, I realised I was home. I have moved around my whole life, my life pre-Vinnie was always travelling and searching and longing. I came to Crystal Palace and I came home.
So when my relationship ended, my metaphorical rug was pulled out from under me. I couldn't afford to live in London on one wage, not in the job I was doing at that time. My ex pushed and pushed me, insistent that life would be better for me and Vin if we were in Birmingham, where I wouldn't struggle for money, where I would be around my family, where we could rebuild our lives. My family insisted I would be better off here, where they didn't have to feel so helpless as I struggled so far away. Let me tell you, if you build your life around one relationship for 6 years of your life, when it ends it'll take a lot longer than 6 weeks for you to get over it. Don't make any big life changes in that time.
But I did. I made that choice, I decided to move to Birmingham. And I did. Less than three months after we split up I was sat in a van with the half of our furniture that my ex didn't take, navigating the streets of South London. Birmingham bound. In tears. But not before I wrote that date. Exactly six months after I left London, I intended to be going home. Birmingham was a holding place for me. To sort things out, so I could work in London, and afford to live there. To heal myself, my fucked up head and my broken heart. To prove to myself that I could be happy, I would be ok, that I could raise my kid and support this family and build this home all on my own. I came to Birmingham to do that. And then I would be coming home. On February 24th 2013.
Of course, that date is next week. And I still tense up every time I have to see my ex, mostly I just want to throw up. I make the mistake of checking his Instagram feed, to prove to myself how much better I was doing. I haven't saved any money, I am still paying off our old debts, bills we were paying together, the credit I took to pay for our first London flat, three years ago. I can't work here, so I have no proof I can work in London either. Everyday I look at my kid and wonder how he isn't more fucked up by the terrible job I am doing.
It would appear that when your life is as messy as ours was, it takes longer than six months to sort it all out. So I'm not moving back to London next week. I have crossed that date out of my diary. I have to stay here, at least a little while longer. And while I'm here, I still have to keep going. I am sort of making friends here, I have the beginnings of a life here. I start my work placement in two weeks, I have signed up for a degree course starting in September. I am looking into nursery schools for Vinnie. Still in the back of my mind I am wondering if it's all worth it. When I speak to the people I love every day and I miss them so much. When friends on Facebook still invite me to events in Crystal Palace. Whenever Vin sees Big Ben or the London Eye on the news he yells 'look mommy, there's our London'.
It was always my intention to go back. I don't know what my life will look like if we stayed in Birmingham. But then I don't know what my life would look like if we went back either. It seems we're stuck in this holding pattern a little while longer.