by Lucy Goodwill
I have been thinking a lot about Brighton lately. Pastel fronted town houses, tussling sea gulls and worn striped deck chairs. The cool, gritty feeling of pebbles under bare feet. A large expanse of blue sky.
London is feeling increasingly grey as I skirt around meandering tourists and frazzled city workers. Packed into busy tube carriages where seated passengers studiously ignore my “please offer me a seat” badge. I see them look and then look away, pretending they didn’t notice. I’ve been thinking a lot about escaping lately.
I daydream at length about a slightly bigger space for slightly less rent; having to push my body a little less hard to make ends meet. I contemplate a garden and getting a dog. Imagine long walks on the beach and dripping ice creams, even though I’m not supposed to eat dairy anymore. I imagine everything being just a little bit calmer.
I have been growing too accustomed to the square footage of my studio flat, with too in depth a knowledge of the crack in the ceiling above my bed and precisely how long to leave the water heater on so my shower won’t scald me. I sit down for my showers these days because my legs won’t hold me for that long. Usually I lie down after, towel still wrapped around my freshly cleaned hair, the simple gesture of holding my arms up to scrunch the shampoo wiping out my energy reserves. My sheets are becoming discoloured from my pyjamas. So many hours of existing in exactly the same place.
“My sheets are becoming discoloured from my pyjamas. So many hours of existing in exactly the same place.”
I try to find good reasons to leave. Perhaps if I started a Masters. It would give me a good excuse to get out and to make new friends and make a new city feel a little bit like home. I would study creative writing. Maybe in Manchester or Norwich. My parents met in Manchester so that idea feels romantic. The trouble is to study postgrad you need to be able to think straight and hold your head up for more than a few hours at a time.
I begin to see London as an active app, forever whirring away in the background of my life and draining what little battery I have. Typically, my body only ever charges to around thirty percent. Everything here feels tough and hard and demanding, shaving me down to twenty-five, twenty, fifteen.
I determine that London is the problem. It’s much easier to plan an escape route from a place than it is to flee your body. I need there to be a solution where, at the moment at least, there isn’t one.
I have been thinking a lot about escaping lately.
Lucy Goodwill is a writer, artist and freelance charity consultant based in London. Her writing consists primarily of creative non-fiction, on subjects such a chronic illness and grief, and she is currently working on her first novel.