It’s not allergies, it’s something else. For some reason, July 29th has always heralded some sort of shift. This year, things have been moving fast, but there’s been no major life events which is magically mundane.
This time last year, on 29th July 2018, I packed up my suitcases and moved to from Aberdeen to London to live with Martha to finish my LLM before starting Tax Academy. The thing I remember most is such a feeling of apathy and pulling my suitcases down a couple of flights of stairs and into a taxi to head to the train station. It’s always the bags that I remember; this one stood out because I was single and hurting, and starting all over, all again.
It wasn’t exciting; my heart was swollen and heavy with gratitude from a tired place of fear and carrying the distress of unemployment and hoping KPMG wouldn’t know that I ‘couldn’t get a job’ in Aberdeen or Edinburgh. Tell me I’m wrong, but that was how I held it in my head and heart. And I was grateful because I had somewhere to go and something to focus on.
The year prior, I was working as a Pool Responder for Village Gym in Aberdeen. At the time I was in a relationship, and we weren’t going to graduate at the same time – we thought. So, in July 2017 we moved flats from a single bed basement flat for me to be nearer my university in case I finished off the last bits alone. One memory that will stay with me from St Swithin Street was lying on the bed sobbing from frustration and being so, so tired. Anton just came a lay down next to me and joined in the misery when we gave up wondering when it would get easier.
Moving from St Swithin Street to the University of Aberdeen meant moving to other end of town which meant that I couldn’t get poolside for work at 05:30 for the early shifts. The fear of having to find a new job and knowing how hard it had been to find one that paid by direct debit with a signed contract was inexplicable. I found a job at Lidl, within walking distance from the new flat. We packed up bags again and moved across town. On a Saturday I finished a final shift at the hotel poolside and on the Sunday went for my full induction day at Lidl. All the whilst, university rolled on and I cycled to and from Psychologist appointments because I'd been having panic attacks regularly from October 2016 and would continue to have them until August 2017.
And I was grateful because I didn’t have to cycle to University to get (heavy) law books back to the library on time before cycling 45 minutes uphill for a poolside shift. What could be better than a flat, a job, and the chance to study? And it was an opportunity; I had to withdraw places for master’s degrees that I’d previously applied for because I couldn’t afford to start or finish them. Getting a tuition scholarship was the first step. The first month of rent-free living in Aberdeen was the next. Bartering monthly rent from £500 a month to £480 was key. Getting a job with no transport costs for the commute was another.
In the end, I sped up my degree from part-time to full-time because I was going to run out of money, even with a loan. The picture above was the first time I'd gotten an 'A' grade for a law essay; I'd had to get the deadline delayed because of work commitments and doing the 'Future Leaders Connect' programme. And I was graded as an 'A' alongside bilingual lawyers having never done law before, working through my own shit, and holding down a part-time job.
July 29th in 2016 had me working as a consultant in Uganda. Anton and I were staying with a colleague of his because in the same month that I was told I ‘had 8 weeks’ left of my contract, he was given similar news despite having just found a new place for himself. Applying for jobs in Uganda yielded nothing, and the reality was that the smartest decision was to start getting ready to move back to the UK at the end of August. I sold all the belongings in my two-bed apartment in Ntinda in one lot; my bed, sofa, fridge, photo frames, blankets; everything that couldn’t be put into to 24kg suitcases was sold for $1,200 and they came to collect it.
The fabric of my home – the final of the four places I lived in Uganda – priced, packed, and picked up. And I was grateful that someone bought it all in one go and paid in cash. That's Sarah and I sat on the cool floor after a 10km run round Kampala, probably on a Saturday.
There’s something about July that makes me want to cry because every year until now, July has extracted energy at a time that used to be reserved for summer holidays and relaxation. Since 2016, I moved out of my flat in Kampala, into another one until the flight back to the UK. Back in Scotland, at home with Mum and Dad in Aboyne for the last few months of 2016. In January 2017, I moved into one flat in Aberdeen, then another, and then another, then out of Aberdeen down to Hackney in London, then another flat in Deptford Bridge, and then to Bermondsey in London, carrying emotional and literal baggage.
Since October, I’ve been in Reading and I’m uneasy because right now, it’s easy. It's me and my weird flatmates; we are weird and happy in our quiet little flat and that's all there is to it. On occasion, we all take the rubbish out; more often than not, we don't.