I’m in a time of transition.
An earth-trembling, savour each moment because it might be the last, but maybe it will last for months kind of transition.
I’m preparing to move from London to York (a city in the north of England, for those of you unfamiliar), from a large, chaotic family to leading a small team, from cities strung like fairy lights across the city to a community centre built over a century ago.
So I thought, how best to cement this time in my mind? And I immediately longed for the tangible presence of 35 mm prints, for deep shadows and rich colours. So I ordered a Fujifilm disposable camera (since my Minolta died mid-way through a roll in Paris in January) and tucked it in my bag and took a train north.
For the first few days of this trip to York, I criss-crossed the city to meetings and get-togethers. I socially-distanced from children who will be a part of my new family (which was heart-breaking. They still run to you with open arms, then hold their own hands when they remember that you can’t hold them) and ate pizza in the park and took part in bedtime rituals. I slept on the floor of a cold office and took over a desk beneath a window that looked over the back lane behind the centre.
Then some of our trainees from London arrived, and the real work began. We built a shower in a cupboard, we re-wired electrics and plastered and painted. I visited B&Q more times in that week than I have in a decade. We finished work at half-seven and were in the city centre by half-eight, wandering down cobbled lanes and listening as our laughter echoed. The work was hard, the sunsets glorious. My mates had such good attitudes as they helped me uncover a bit of vision for the building we’ve been given.
But this roll of film isn’t just of York. It’s also of the oddest summer I’ve lived yet: London, empty of tourists and full of locals so tired of our houses that we’re discovering our city again. The Southbank is oddly quiet, the Sky Garden empty. There aren’t nearly as many selfie sticks on Tower Bridge (because people are using it as an actual bridge to cross the river), and St. Paul’s is abandoned. I want to capture it all, to remember it in the quiet of a much smaller city, but also because this is such a bizarre time to be in London.
So here it is, my ode to my present and future homes.