This afternoon I took a few minutes out of unpacking boxes to sit down, have a cold root beer, and catch my breath. Around me bedlam, my life in boxes and bags waiting to be redeposited in the new surroundings of an apartment in a two hundred year old building next to a thatched cottage and opposite a pub.
Over the weekend, helped by Will and Sarah, I packed my life into boxes to bring it here. I have to say I am shocked at the amount of stuff I have managed to accumulate over time. I remember the day I moved to Park Road South in Birkenhead, it took little more than an hour to move in. Most of that time was spent trying to fathom how to get my heavy old metal-framed sofa bed into the studio flat.
This time it took the best part of the whole weekend. A seemingly never-ending quantity of boxes had to be packed, put into the van, then brought here to be unloaded. I have come from what was essentially a bedsit (one room) to an apartment with five rooms and plenty of hall space, and yet I seemed to have already filled up all the available room.
It's quite strange having different rooms. Simply making a cup of tea can now involve a hike down two sets of stairs! As I walked around the place trying to get things in order I thought about what a new feeling this was. Part of me was/is quite excited about this new place because I have never had so many rooms available exclusively for my own use.
One of the best things about my new abode is central heating and double glazing. At my old studio apartment, this time of year would mean wearing several T-shirts and thick winter clothes indoors. However here I am at just after one in the morning sitting here wearing just jeans and just one T-shirt.
On Sunday morning the church bells rang out over the village, a sound that I was familiar with as a kid living in Essex, but that has since been absent from my life. As I unpacked stuff in my bedroom I was struck by the sound of birds singing. Struck because I can honestly say that for the last five or more years in Birkenhead that is a sound that I have missed. Even with the trees outside my old house, the lack of bird song was something I noticed.
As I sat on the window ledge looking out at the village below the sun was setting over the trees and rooftops. Below me, the village was just getting on with another Monday afternoon. I sat there thinking about how different this is from what I am used to. The sun filled my lounge as I sat there just soaking in the moment.
So here it is, the first night alone in my new apartment. The absolute end of my time in Birkenhead, and in many ways the end of an era. Sure, that may sound like me being dramatic but in the tungsten light of a street-lit night, sitting here in my new place things feel very different compared to just a few nights ago.
There is no muffled bass line trying to push its way through my walls, no sounds of noisy and often drunken frivolity to be heard. Everything is silent. I am surrounded by a quietness the like of which I don't think I have ever known before.
Make no mistake I am not sorry to leave Birkenhead, not at all. However it only really struck me this afternoon that I won't be going back to 'my flat' at Park Road South again.
Yesterday, just before I closed the door on the empty flat for the very last time, I stood there for a moment and reflected on my times there. A significant chapter of my life was coming to an end. Helen, Mark, Dominic, Sam, Pete and the boys, Drunken Bob, Kevin, Michelle, and the WCC, they all belonged to that part of my life, and looking at the empty flat brought them all back to me for a moment. I felt like I did the day I moved in there. I remember being so excited about having my very own 'studio flat'.
Without the posters on the wall, without my furniture in the place, it looked bare, lifeless. For just a second I was sad to be leaving the place of so many memories, I can't deny that there have been some truly great times at Park Road South. But as one tale ends, so another begins.