There are many places I have thought of as home, but Bristol has never been one of them. Even my university halls felt like home after only a few short weeks compared to the two years I spent in Bristol previously. I guess when I was growing up, everywhere I lived with my mum and my sister felt like home, but even from the age of six I would sit in my bedroom and dream up scenarios where I lived in a big city full of stimulation and things to excite me. Even when I was younger than that, and would watch the Taunton to London trains whizz past my bedroom window on dark and rainy autumn nights, I would long to be on them. Going somewhere, doing something.
Bristol never felt like it was going anywhere or doing anything for me. But it was behind me, anyway.
Then I came back here, from shiny Wimbledon. I came back to this city without a friend or money or a plan. I came back here because I was desperate. Not only to get out of London but to not be alone, to not live in this state of isolation that I had so neatly trapped myself into. So it was better, but it was still hard. It was hard not only because I felt like I had taken a step back in my life by moving to the place I had spent the last dregs of my childhood, but also because I was still just as lonely, just as isolated, and I was stuck in this life in my head that was all in the past and I was clinging onto it with my last finger and thumb and I was forgetting to live at all, wherever that may be.
And now it’s a year on and I’m still here. Not consciously, but I’m not desperate to escape either. I have people now, a routine, something to settle me but not enough to stunt me. It feels nice and each day feels easy for once. The plans make themselves and I live around them and in the moment and entwined in other people and how they feel. I still wouldn’t say that Bristol was home for me. I don’t spend enough time here even though it holds my address and parts of it are too layered in bittersweet memories for me to ever really feel fresh here. But what I’m saying now is, maybe instead of home being a place, I can be home wherever I’m with someone who makes me smile, looking out at the rain with a pot of peppermint tea and the noise and flow of a city, any city we happen to be in, blaring on in the background.