Last night I took up a spontaneous invite from a colleague to go with her to watch a theatre rendition of Moby Dick at York Guildhall. Then my Mum called and invited me for dinner. I’m back in York and I’m back at “home”. Life has taken on a new speed and I’m revelling in new routines, sights, sounds and smells.
I grew up in this city, and at 18, couldn’t wait to leave. Every place I turned was filled with some teenage memory that I wanted to grow up from and leave behind. I left, moving to Cornwall for a year, Birmingham for two years, and Manchester for 18 months. I then packed up and began the adventure that this blog documents. Returning to York at the very end of August felt peculiar… I saw the city in a whole new light. Two months later, I roam these streets marvelling at the architecture and history that sews its tale through the cobbles and am very grateful to be here, and to know this city and these buildings somewhat.
I anticipated I’d see York as a tourist – doing all the touristy things I didn’t have chance to do when I did live here permanently; take a walking tour, go on a ghost walk, walk the bar walls again, take a York Boat trip, scale the Minster; but instead, I haven’t. I’ve spent the most of my time working or trying to even out my sleeping pattern, drinking with friends in familiar haunts and not doing all that much exploring. The exploring has come in a totally new way; more internal than external. Yeah, I’m walking the streets when I arrive for work early, I’m looking up rather than looking down, taking alleyways and snickets I hadn’t formerly and my eyes truly are more open, but mainly, this new adventure is about building bridges, saying yes to opportunities rather than I’m not sure. It’s about spending more time out of the house rather than in, and it’s about living fully in the now.
There have been tough times where I question how I am here – this was never part of the plan. I was supposed to be in Canada by now, living in Toronto, my boyfriend at university in the UK, but all plans change. I put off going to Canada til February so I can save up properly, I’m accepting that home is within me, and I can’t try and project that onto a space. I found home within myself during my trip and felt that the feeling I’d discovered somewhat fleeted when I was reunited with my childhood bedroom and the few possessions I’d left behind. Home is a troubling concept to me nowadays. Yes, York and this house I live in remains true “home”, but home to me for so long was life with a person with whom I no longer share my time. It’s a challenge, but it’s ok.
I’m learning a lot since I got here. Not only about myself and my plans and my adventures, but in new fields. I work at a real ale pub and I can actually talk a little about beer now (not loads, but I’m learning). I visited my first brewery the week before last where myself and two colleagues (…friends actually), started brewing our Christmas collaboration beer – it’s going to be a stout, flavoured with powdered orange peel, vanilla, cocoa, sichuan pepper, grains of paradise and American hops. It looks like the name will be Descent into Madness.
I’ve surprised myself and my family with who I am now. How confident I am now. Popped from my shell. I’ve heard “this new you” a few times, and I am so grateful for the summer and my travels for creating this person, as I feel for the first time in a long time, whole. I accompanied a friend to a pub quiz a few weeks back and arrived before him, approached two people and asked if they were his friends, recognising one of them. It seems small, but ‘old me’ would never have had the confidence to approach two strangers in a pub and ask to sit with them. I was proud of myself. I believe in myself.
My job has been a total blessing; bringing me a group of new and wonderful friends. I’ve laughed until I cried sat with one of them in a pub all day, I’ve stayed at another’s house and talked into the early hours about love and loss. I’ve been on a strange somewhat date with one of them and made things a little awkward. Another, we sit and have coffee and chats before work. It has been, and is, everything I need at the moment. A physical, social job, where everyday is spent smiling at new people and getting things done. It’s also a really blummin cool place: see here.
I’m pleased to be back here, but pleased it’s temporary too. I’ve begun applications to workaways in Canada – hopefully I’ll stay at each a bit longer this time, before settling somewhere west for a while and find a similar job to this one. Life is very different now, to a couple of months ago, different but good. I miss the fields, working outside, working with people who also wanted to escape the trials and tribulations of this so-called normal life, but I’m glad it’s worked out the way it has, and that more adventures are on the horizon.
I turned 24 a few weeks ago. I attend a writing group now. I enjoy trying new beers. I’m more open. I wear jeans and a t-shirt and I smile. I am happy.