I’m writing this in an empty living room, sitting on an old, scratched and cushion-less rocker, the only lonely piece of furniture left. The sofa is gone, the walls are clear – except for a few birthday balloons that have given up the ghost and dropped to the floor. I am aching and stiff from a night spent sleeping on the floor since even the sofa is now gone.
It’s the end.
Today, I say goodbye to Raleigh, North Carolina. The city has been home this past year; a third floor apartment with high ceilings and a fireplace we never used, close enough to downtown to hear the sirens and pay no more than $5 in an Uber at the weekend. I’ve survived hurricanes and tornado warnings, ice storms and mysterious gunshots on Saturdays mornings. I’ve learned how to navigate our little home in the dark, mastered the art of centigrade to farenheit conversion on the oven, and become adept at carrying heavy loads up three flights of stairs without breaking a sweat. Okay, so maybe that last part is a lie – I still hate those three flights of stairs.
My life is packed into cases – several of them, which will make loading the car an interesting game of traveller’s Tetris later. Once the last piece of furniture has been collected, I’ll start the car and head for I-95, towards my first destination on a family road trip to bid a final farewell to America.
It all feels a bit surreal. Honestly, I’m so glad to be going back home to the UK. In some ways, I wish I was already there. I wish I had already conquered the stress of money transfers and final bills and transatlantic relocation. I wish I wasn’t a muggle and could simply disapparate, be back in Yorkshire in the blink of an eye. But I am a muggle. I have to handle all the stress and the headaches that the move brings. I did it once before, a year ago, and so I’ll do it again.
Am I sad to say goodbye? Yes, if only for the reason that I am the sort of person who hates goodbyes. Will I miss the place? Yes, I’ll miss the tall trees and the kaleidoscopic shades of green and my favourite sweet potato salad from my favourite restaurant and the art museum and the turtles and cardinals and the people. Oh how I will miss the people.
But it’s time. I’m ready to go home. I can’t wait to go home.
So I’ll load up that car, hand in the key to my apartment with its pom-pom keyring and merge onto the interstate I hate to drive. I’ll head south, enjoy a vacation, not worry about the extra pounds I’ve gained Stateside, and take lots of photos. And I’ll say goodbye to my American home with a smile.
Thank you, Raleigh: you were, for this British girl, a great adventure.