don’t let me forget.
I’m still going through Leeds/Exchange withdrawal, and although my two week welcome-back-period was swell whilst it was filled with meet ups, frosh week and partying I will still undoubtedly choose to often sit and reminisce about the past 7 months. Afterall, I only got back less than a month ago (has it really been that long?!).
Was it really almost a month since I last breathed British air, had a Costa flat white, or walked down to Sainsbury’s to purchase my weekly fix of beans and Flakes chocolate pudding? I don’t think there was any lifestyle or daily routine I took more mental documentation of than the last 7 months I spent in England. If you asked me what I did last week in Toronto and why, I’d probably tell you that I sat on my couch all day until I got ready for a party that night…or took a nap because there was nothing else to do…or spent all day visiting my beloved friends, ranting about certain people.
None of that, however, involved taking daily walks to town, admiring the beauty around me, carrying out interesting daily tasks, or just simply taking a walk. Those are a few of my most recent memories of living in Leeds, and that’s when I was reminiscing about Leeds before everyone left and when I was still living in Oxley Halls. When I think about living in my first halls of residence, the memories are more faded than living in my second that I had just recently left, and that scares me.
I want to take the time to remind myself to close my eyes and remember those little moments that I cherish so much, and to not forget the little things that made my experience so whole and real and beautiful. The shitty moments that made it reality, and the amazing moments that weren’t so realistic but happened because maybe fate wanted to give me a little break.
I want to remember the friends I had some of the best times of my life with, having first experiences and going out to The Wire or those weird dirty underground clubs where DJ’s played, multiple sleepovers complimented with the green, and making homemade mac and cheese. Oh yeah, and travelling around the UK in a sexy Audi and doing a bunch of stuff.
I want to remember the relationships I more or less had, whether they were a big deal or not. Those moments I felt swept off my feet, or even those moments I felt so abandoned and low, wondering why I even got myself involved with these affairs in the first place. Moments where I finally sacrificed my fears in order to grow a pair and actually gave into desire, unlike the unsatisfying past.
Remembering one, a right infatuation down under with minimal verbal communication but rather spoke in a different way, convinced that a physical relationship was going to teach me well and lead me to something greater (nope).
Remembering two, a more casual approach but came a dark and deep revealing of each other’s insecurities that became a roadblock that became a permanent goodbye, but still continues a mature friendship.
Remembering three, the least forced, the honest and the realest of the real. Two and a half months of what seemed to be a final exam on what I’ve learned about dudes to take back with me to Canada. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t apply to Canadians. I think I’m going back.
Mostly, I want to remember those specific moments I’d get off the bus and walk down Albion and across the Headrow to get to the Purple Door for my 9pm shift, how I’d carelessly walk without the stoplight because I knew that being a resident meant that I knew Leeds enough not to get hit by a car.
I want to remember taking those 5am taxi’s back home, only having to pay £3 to split a ride with my coworkers.
I want to remember taking the #6 or #1 down Otley road for 20 minutes to get to uni in the rain, walking across campus to get to Roger Stevens building but forgetting I had to make a charge down the enormous flight of stairs before I reached class (and still not knowing which staircase to take to get to my specific lecture hall).
I want to remember receiving text invited to grab a bite and a beer at the Old Bar, because that was our favourite uni hang out. Ordering an all day breakfast, because I milked the hell out of that. Heading up the stairs to the union because they gave away free condoms because you’d never know.
I just want to remember being, because without remembering the reality of it all then it feels as though I’ve just filmed a 7 month long movie and I deleted all the uninteresting but important scenes that made the story what it was. I want to remember the smell of the air, the way my feet ached, the hunger pangs before heading into Sainsbury’s for a quick packet of crisps (yeah), and the feeling of wondering how all my friends and family were surviving without me back home, thinking about how much fun I was having over there.
Now that it’s over, I don’t want to dwell, but rather remember the reality of it and the little moments that made me go, “Yes, I lived in Leeds.” rather than “Yes, I studied in Leeds.”
I want to remember the reality of the most important time of my life so far, the one that changed me, the one that gave me a new lens…and maybe after I come out of the darkness of this withdrawal, it’ll start making sense…but for now, let me close my eyes and listen to the songs that paint my memories back in my head of happier (and not so happier) times.