Do I call myself a Southamptonian now? Am I officially a Hampshire resident? I’ve been living here for 10 years and one day now and yet I still call the sleepy little corner of Sussex where I grew up ‘home’. When I loaded up my Dad’s car and subsequently my brother’s car too to move down here for university it only ever felt like a temporary measure, I was going to spend three years studying my ‘ology’ and then move on into the big wide world. Yet here I am, still in the city, still wondering if this is where I want to be and still thinking about where to lay roots.
When my university friends started moving away to start their new lives elsewhere I struggled, I felt left behind as they’d done what they came to Southampton to do and then moved on. Flown the university nest so to speak, whereas I was still loitering, still involved in the uni and not really wanting to let go because I felt I hadn’t had the full experience. And I didn’t have the full experience because of course I went a bit nuts and toddled off to the Priory before dropping out and never getting round to finishing my degree.
Leaving work at the university was a big step for me because apart from the fear of voluntarily making myself unemployed was the feeling of drawing a line under it, admitting that I was done with the university world and moving on. It was scary but looking back it was the best thing I could have done. For once in my life I was actually making a choice about what I wanted to do. I moved to Southampton not because I wanted to but because I felt I had to, having just lost Mum it felt like the normal thing to be doing and I was convinced it would be my pathway out of the mire of grief.
I’ve always wanted to put down roots and was convinced that it would be a conscious decision, I’d wake up one morning and know what I needed to do to feel anchored to a place. But whaddya know, overnight (over the past 10 years worth of nights actually) I’ve laid down little rooty tendrils that have the capacity to grown and turn into mighty oak type roots. And after years of bagging on Southampton and joining in with rubbishing it, I’m beginning to think calling it home wouldn’t be too bad.