My life in boxes.

by Catherine Heath

IMG_1101My life in boxes. That’s the funny thing about living in London, you’re always on the move. Or so I’ve found. Having chosen to live in Elephant and Castle upon my arrival in the city for my Masters, I’ve spent the last couple of years regretting it. The area is noise, unreasonably dirty, loud, full of drunks and people shouting, and with little beauty to speak of. I don’t know if I’ve been judgmental, but I’ve found little to love in the intersection between Bermondsey and Kennington.

Is it bad that I just can’t wait to leave? My new flat is in Kentish Town, five minutes away from Camden. I can’t wait to be near the market, the lock, and the trendy pubs and bars just begging me to spend my wages there. Soon, I’ll be an authentic goth-hipster, full of metal and tattoos. Somehow I think my one nose piercing, one belly piercing and smattering of ear piercings just won’t be enough.

My life in boxes. I’ve been packing for days and somehow feel I’ve still made no headway. I rage at myself for buying so many books and clothes, curse my DVD and CD collection in this age of internet and digitisation. It’s not like anything I own is cool or PC anyway; I have a stuffed Golliwog, a psychedelic animal cushion named Crack Cat (ex-boyfriend story), and an ancient bear (very originally named Bear Bear), which I don’t think has ever been washed.

Packing up all your things is like dredging up all the memories you’ve ever wanted (or not wanted) to keep. I find heaps of old journals, the chronicler that I am. My aim one day is to be like Samuel Pepys, except maybe I will digitise all of my diaries to minimise their getting lost in a fire. It’s a bit sad finding old diaries, because I’ve recorded the exact day when my heart broke for the first time. It’s simple and sweet, I’d been so full of hope… I write merely, “I think today was the worst day of my life,” in characteristically understated teenage-Catherine style.

It’s only in my old age (mid-twenties) that I’ve become flamboyantly emotional. It’s finding the first true love of my life that opened the feeling-floodgates so that now I cry on cue, get worked up over everything and patently believe that my life is doomed over the slightest setback. And yet I wouldn’t trade it, I wouldn’t trade this open heart for the bastion of severity that I was. London has also done this to me, with its kaleidoscopic (grey) colours and siren wails, its monolithic buildings and city slums. There are beggars and millionaires, French and Turks, sinners and saints, all jostling for space in these centuries-old streets.

My life in boxes. I don’t know what I’ll find in Kentish Town; perhaps I’ll hate it even more than SE1. But it’s my life to do with as I choose, and if I want to haul around dozens of boxes full of trinkets and tat, that is my choice as well. One day, I’ll stop beating myself up about it. And protect the china in bubble-wrap, this time.