Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Some things are hard to let go of

A quick calculation tells me that 7 years ago, I moved to Coventry for university. I don't know where that time has gone. All I know is that those 3 years I spent in that city are still some of the best years of my life so far and maybe that's why that period in time is so hard to let go of.

I last visited Coventry in 2014, which in itself is 3 years ago now. I've no idea what the city is like any more but if I close my eyes, I can map out the various paths we walked to university each day, I can see the shopping area lined with silver lights at Christmas, I can see each wonky medieval building down Spon Street and I can step inside The Old Windmill pub with it's cobbled floors and roaring fires. I can wander across the bridge that led us to the canal so many times for a sunny winter walk. I can place myself in the cathedral ruins, the place I was always drawn back to with its cobbled side streets, old style lamp posts and historical buildings all sharply contrasted with the new Cathedral and its rainbow of stained-glass windows, the place where after 3 years in that city, I graduated in. I remember first stumbling upon the ruins the day after we'd moved and every walk we took around that city after then seemed to lead me back there. My mind meanders back to the time we walked past the pubs in that area one weekend evening to seek the darkness of the university courtyard that lay just beyond the ruins so we could watch a meteor shower, sandwiched between the sounds of the nearby beer garden and the student union bar.

I remember the city centre studio apartment we called home for the entire 3 years we lived in Coventry, the food trucks that lined the streets outside our building and the sense of calm and quiet I felt every time we stepped outside of our building on a night and into what was a bustling shopping area during the day but a ghost town on a night. I remember the exact layout of our tiny apartment and the day I dyed our entire white bathroom red with hairdye on Halloween and then spent a whole week trying to remove the stains.

Each room I entered within the different university buildings has put a separate stamp on my memories. From the huge lecture theatre I learnt about IPA in, to the small classroom where we debated vampire literature, the window seat where I learnt creative writing techniques on cold winter evenings and reluctantly wrote poetry despite the fact that every creative fibre in me wanted to wrote stories. Finally, the modern newsroom where a portfolio careers was hammered into me for 3 years.

Of all the topics I've spoken about, of all the blog posts I've wrote in the past 6 years, this has to be the hardest, the rawest, the one that's brought tears to my eyes as I've typed. My life is so much different to that of a carefree student living in a tiny damp filled apartment in the middle of a city centre, a city, I should point out that wasn't even one of the nicest places you could go if we're going to think of some of the beautiful cities in this country. I have a job, I own a house in a nice village, with a bit of hard work and saving I'm able to book my dream holidays but I just cannot let go of that 3 year period of my life. The tears that prick my eyes won't subside even after all this time because I loved that place and that experience and I still miss it and yes, I'd go back in a heart beat.

I don't want to live in the past but I also don't ever want those memories to fade. I still want to close my eyes to the world and suddenly feel the sun on my skin and hear the reggae music from the time we went to the Godiva Festival in the War Memorial park. I still want to be able to remember the happiness I felt at visiting the Christmas market in Birmingham and coming home to warm pyjamas and a film. To feel the warmth of a hot drink between my hands from our weekly Starbucks Sunday's that eventually turned into Costa Sunday's but never quite had the same ring to them. To experience to snow fall in the cathedral ruins, perhaps the only time I've liked snow since I was a child, seeing those cobbled streets dusted in white, feeling the crunch under my feet and shivering as I looked up to watch the snowflakes fall about me.

It seems to me that during the warm July morning that I packed all my belongings into a van and left Coventry for good that I didn't quite bring everything back with me. Some small part of me has remained in that city ever since, pulling my heart back to that time, to a wonderful 3 years that I just can't let go of.

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