I guess there’s just no pleasing some people.
For weeks I griped and complained about the fact that my boxes hadn’t arrived from England yet. And now they’re here, I wish they weren’t.
I never thought I would be quoting lyrics from The Tennessee Waltz in this blog, but while I was unpacking, one particular line kept playing in my head, louder and more insistently than the Fugazi on the speakers. Going flagrantly against the optimistic conclusion I forced myself to draw here in a previous entry, that line was: “Now I know just how much I have lost.”
I always intended, apart from living a proper goodbye to London (which I think I did), to sit down and write something about it, but in the pressures surrounding my departure I never got time to. Call it solipsism or exhibitionism if you will, but somehow it feels inadequate just sitting here alone with my memories, I want to tell everybody about what this city, these people, this time, meant to me.
Typical Michellian Disclaimer: What follows may not mean a great deal to people who either don’t know me or don’t know London, but if you’ve ever been madly in love with any other city, that’s all you’ll need to understand. And of course I don’t think London or England are perfect, and of course there are serious problems with them which I was just lucky enough to never really encounter personally, and of course there are things I like and respect about Singapore. It’s just that on balance I swing West rather than East. My attempts at translating jumbled ecstatic memories into dry electronic scribblings may therefore give but a rippled reflection of reality, either through my inadequacies with prose or my tendency towards sentimentality, but here is my goodbye. I pray it wasn’t a farewell.
I’m hard-pressed to think of anything remotely entertaining about the final day of the move out of the flat, except that I went into Waterstone’s in search of a travel guide and instructed Russ, standing outside on a busy street carrying a hoover and its assorted tubes, to “try to blend in.” I could also mention his regular exclamations of “You know what I really like about cleaning? I really like _____” as he hoovered the entire flat with unbelievable meticulousness, scrubbed footprints off the walls, and picked up really gross stuff from behind Tamara’s couch, but that’s not entertaining, it’s just freaky. There’s also the way I packed the 3 little sheep in the box for the ghetto blaster that came at Christmas disguised as a big sheep, but on closer inspection the little sheep looked rather lost and sad.
In general, the day was one of those times where I realized how sheer personal will and capacity for exhaustion is sometimes just simply not enough for the task at hand, no matter how much you mutter “I think I can I think I can I think I can” and wear your superwoman underpants. Sometimes even independent Michelle needs other people. Russ to help me heft stuff to the charity shop, my shit to my new lodgings, a borrowed hoover back to the flat, hours of aforementioned cleaning. Alec to use up an entire bottle of carpet cleaner on our disgusting floors, return the hoover (carrying my laptop and a bag of random kitchen supplies at the same time), give me alcohol and sunflowers before I collapsed into bed.
We all had an 8.40 plane to Italy the next morning. Russ only got home after 1. He had to leave for the airport at 5. He got almost no sleep. He said it had been his pleasure to help me. The other night I was crying my eyes out at the thought of August 3, departure doomsday. Among other things, I was remembering this.
Whew. Handed in the dissertation on Tuesday. Am moving out of flat today. Going to Italy tomorrow to watch Radiohead. Hence recent silence.
The move so far has involved Alec in latex, James hanging out of windows, and later today, quite possibly Russ walking down the street cradling a very happy vacuum cleaner.
There’s something uniquely depressing about packing away the vestiges of a life you love in an empty flat. But at least with all the dust you have an excuse for the sniffles.
On a cheerier, more frivolous note, I cannot believe I am going to Milan (well, Bergamo to be exact, but Ryanair equates the two) at the precise point of time in my life when I have a total mullet head and seem to be going through a glut of Bad Face Days. It’s going to be pretty hard to avoid looking like a tourist.