Ten years have passed since I arrived in Edinburgh, got a job, found a nice wee flat by the river, worked out that ‘how’ meant ‘why’ and that ‘getting your messages’ was nothing to do with telecommunications, ken. Ten years I spent walking the cobbled paths, the snaky wynds, up and down thousands of steps, along the river, along the railway paths, to the sea, to the hills, to the forests. Some of my favourite things to do in Edinburgh: walking through New Town streets in winter, peeping into the houses with round red rooms and paternosters and oil paintings. Trying to get lost in the tangled higgledy-piggledy overlapping streets of the Old Town. Cycling to the beach at Silverknowes and walking across to Cramond, tide permitting, or up along the River Almond, looking for kingfishers. Having stupid hair and pretending to be famous during the festival. Looking out of my window in the mornings, seeing a heron or cormorant or once, thrillingly, some otters playing in the river. Sitting in my flat with the windows open, watching a torrential storm, lightning flaring over the water. Other things I’ve loved: being in a falling-apart classroom with too many students, trying to convince them that reading poetry will help them become better nurses, doctors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, hairdressers. Sitting in the workroom with colleagues, laughing ourselves silly over some nonsense or other. In lockdown, standing outside in the snow with my neighbours, drinking cups of tea and pretending to be normal. Lately, sitting out in the sunshine with the neighbours, slagging off the airbnb wankers in my stair. Being here.
Ten years. And now, it’s over. My job is finished. I’m leaving Edinburgh. All my stuff is packed in a yellow suitcase. I don’t know where I’m going, not exactly. But when I get there, I’m going to write. That’s the plan. That’s the whole of the plan!
It’s a good unit of time, a decade. It’s enough. I feel like it’s been enough time to work some things out. I feel weirdly satisfied with the last ten years, despite the fact that some of those years were terrible disasters by anyone’s standards. Some of those years I would gladly eradicate from my internal history. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Who knows what it is that makes life worth living? Maybe it’s all the shit you go through. Whatever. I’m happy. I’m happy, and I’ve had enough, and I’m sad, and I’m relieved, and I wish I’d been better sooner, and I’m grateful it worked out how it did. I’m scared. I’m excited. It’s time.