Four years ago, when I first started this blog, I was preparing to move. Back then, I had just finished University and was departing from student accommodation. There was no plan, not really. Several life ideas fluttered in and out of existence, dreams and hopes and desperate chances. Here I stand, now 25-years-old, on the cusp of moving again. The last bits and pieces of my life are all that’s left here now, fragments sitting on empty shelves in an almost empty room. Usually I don’t dig my heels in so hard. I get contemplative sure (let’s face fact, I do that often regardless of situation), but I’ve never found myself sitting in a space, genuinely grieved by the notion of having to say farewell to four walls, a door and a window. Upon departing the studio flat I honestly didn’t cry. There have been tears for this place, and deep, real ones, too.
I turned 22 the day after my leaving, and that’s when I came, through kindness and luck to live in the Buddhist Centre, in a cozy single bedroom on the basement level, underneath a busy cafe kitchen. In all honesty, I took it because I didn’t have many other options. There wasn’t any chance on earth I was moving back in with my parents, not where they were and not being who I was at the time. I didn’t want to leave Plymouth if I could help it, but I only had a part-time gig in retail where I was lucky to get more than eight hours work a week, so I needed somewhere cheap and I needed it fast. Having been coming to the Centre for about a year, I inquired as to available rooms only to be told by the then director that currently they were all taken. A tad defeated, I received a call the next day from the same man saying that if I still needed a place, he’d consulted the other staff and they’d agreed to merge the offices to create an extra room for me. I was warned it wasn’t an ideal living space. Apparently, the reason it had become an office in the first place was because residents had only lasted about a month before having to vacate due to the noise from above. None of this registered. I had given in to pure joy at the news I would actually have somewhere to live. My mind was preoccupied demolishing the cardboard box I had resigned myself to. I accepted without hesitation.
They weren’t lying about the noise; the bedroom is in the middle of a five way sound junction. Between two kitchens, a garden and a hallway which has a natural draw for congregations, I was a little noise battered in my first month. I think they expected me to vacate once I found a better option somewhere, that I had taken the room while I pondered other options. Like I said, until I found a better form of employment I was pretty much stuck. However, I never felt stuck. I became quickly accustomed to the noise. Actually, it was soothing in some regards; I’d been living alone for a year, and the presence of others, the peopleness of the place was reassuring. At first, I just kept myself to myself. I had some bonds with the other residents, but I hadn’t so much joined the fray. My mind was settling into a routine and a lifestyle beyond the security of an educational structure I’d been part of since the age of five. Fortunately, other people can be amazing.
Suddenly, I found myself in a place where I couldn’t escape becoming close to others. I would run into them in hallways and kitchens and the laundry room and conversations would grow more and more friendly. Not only was a welcomed, but I was fixed in as a cog, part of how things worked here. Slowly but surely, they drew me into their world of humour and co-existence, and though I often got it wrong (often!) they were gentle and they were patient, and I got better at being a person comfortable around people. I helped where I could and tried my best, and I think they understood that. Gradually, the room became home and these other beings residing inside became a family, an odd family. Though I’ve seen people come and go in my time here, that never altered; it doesn’t take long to fit into the dynamic. No matter what, I always felt wanted and included in the day to day occurrences of the house. There have been blackouts and floods and midnight fire alarms, and we’ve laughed and cried on shoulders.
At the same time, I had the sanctuary of my bedroom, something that was entirely under my jurisdiction. I worked hard to pay for my living and still keep food in my stomach, something which felt very grown up. I struggled a lot just holding a life down, and relied on unexpected gifts and food appearing in my fridge, but I did it. Eventually, I was able to leave retail and find work I had interest in, and though I still struggled, I did so happily and with less frustration. I hope and I think I have changed a lot in all that’s happened. I’ve gained experiences which have taught me lessons in patience and self-respect, and I’ve been shown incredible kindnesses in many aspects, which I wish to emulate and pass forward whenever I can. I’m not the girl who moved in, and it’s vital to remember that. This place has seen possibly the greatest change in who I am.
I grew up here, in this little corner of a little corner. I feel nothing but gratitude that it was created for me, altered to accommodate me in a time of great need. I didn’t just need a roof over my head, I needed an accepting home, able to allow me to grow emotionally and spiritually, and I got it. Despite its size and faults, I’m so proud to have called this room home. Being here was an adventure. There will be days, much later down the line, come whatever the Universe throws my way, when I will peer back through time and remember this place. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to tell my children about the three years I spent in the wonderful madnesses of this place, of the jobs I had and the relationships I lost during my stay, but how I always had a place to cry and recalculate, to focus and get my bearings, where you could bump into a comforting smile just about anywhere.
There comes a time, always, when we must move forward; such things are part of the great inevitability of being alive. So now I must accept this plot twist, a time when I’m being told it’s time to step out beyond my limits again and stride forward into the unknowns of life. I’ve learned how strong my legs are; being here has shown me that. I’ll place one foot before the other again and again further and further away, because it’s all I can do. Right, left, right, left on and on. But every once in a while, I’ll smile and remember, and I’ll be happy, because for a short time I was here, where I am now, doing everyday things which meant so much more than I realised at the time, and I was safe and living. And I’ll be thankful again, because this was my little corner of the world. Just for a while, this was home.
Goodbye, little corner.
Today, sounds something like this: