Flat 4, Manchester.

When I was six, I broke my arm really badly. I was playing on the monkey bars at school, slipped, and fell on my straightened arm, making the bones overlap. Gruesome, I know. I had to have a cast put on it for 3 months. The cast was blue, and people at school wrote messages in marker pens of 'get well soon's and cartoon faces. I wore it like a trophy; like a symbol of the good and the bad. Finally, the day came for it to be removed. Most kids who break a limb count down to this day - the day when they're 'back to normal'. Not me, I cried and screamed. I didn't want my cast to be removed, because, psychologically, it was like cutting off a part of myself. Bit of a random story, I hear you say. Bear with, there is a point.

Today I officially moved out of my flat in Manchester. My parents had kindly driven all the way up from Surrey to cart my things back home, and by God did I give them a hard time. I didn't want them touching my stuff. I got annoyed at them asking whether or not they needed to take X or Y. They cleaned the entire kitchen and I only just managed to spit a thank you at them. Why was I being such a bitch? Because my flat had become like my cast: it had become such a part of me, that losing it was physically painful. Like the scribbles of classmates on my cast, my flat played host to countless friends, family, and loves. Some of the happiest, and the saddest, times of my life had occurred within its walls. I learned the news of my grandmother's passing sitting on the sofa, of the engagement of one of my best friends in bed at 3 in the morning. When I was poor, I ate packet noodles in the kitchen. When I had money, I had friends over for huge suppers and parties. I laughed, and I cried, in every room - and I remember every time with equal clarity. I filled the walls with memories - literally, with photos and paintings, and metaphorically, with everything that happened to me whilst I was there. Admittedly, sometimes these memories got too much. When I broke up with my boyfriend, I removed every photo from the walls that reminded me of him - with not much success, as the memories of the times he was there still haunted the place. When I was alone, I filled the space with music, with words, and when neither helped, with the sound of typing - I started this blog sitting on my bed. So I guess the question is, what happens when you move on? I think the answer is in there: you move on. 

When my cast was taken off, the doctor asked me if I wanted to keep it. Strangely enough, although the ordeal had been so dramatic, I said no. I think I didn't want to be reminded of something that I'd lost. I wanted to move on. Perhaps I knew that there would be other broken bones, other ways of keeping memories of friendships and good wishes alive - I didn't have to keep a physical representation of them with me forever. The point is, I can't be a Van Wilder. I couldn't live in that flat forever, just as I couldn't keep repeating the final year of university because I'm scared of what comes next. There will be other flats, other houses, other homes, that I will fill with new memories, new people. However scary it is, there will always be a next chapter. Even death, as my grandmother used to say, is the start of something new. 

Today I arrived back at home. Downstairs are 8 bags of clothes, books, and DVDs that are going to fill someone else's home. I just finished putting together a collage of photos and pictures - none of which feature times in my old flat. Because we can't live in the past forever. Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath, bite the bullet, and have faith that more good times are gonna come. 

Belle x

R.I.P Flat 4. Here are your best bits.

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