It’s difficult for me to think of the next few months of my life. Things are certain right up to the beginning of January, but after that, all bets are off. By that time, I’ll have written, edited and almost submitted my Master’s thesis. I’ll have vacationed with my family. And I will have bought a ticket to The Netherlands, with an as of yet indefinite return date and no idea what to do with the latter half of 2016.
In the meantime, there is a definite sense of the year winding down. Our flat already has a new tenant waiting to move in. Advertisements for apartments, beds and random furniture have taken over the noticeboards on campus and in town. I’m becoming keenly aware of having to decide what to keep and what to let go when we move out in November.
I am thus contemplating the accumulation of two years’ worth of living in our flat. Whatever happens, it’s unlikely that I’ll stay in Grahamstown next year, so all of this will have to go… somewhere. I have books everywhere – stowed on bookshelves, forming haphazard stacks on various tables and neatly arranged next to my bed. They’ll all have to be packed and stored in my parents’ garage until I can read them again. We have four desks and a kitchen table that have to be sold. There’s single bed that’s (thankfully) not my problem, but the plastic chest of drawers, two years of clothes and shoes and the contents of a tiny kitchen bursting at the seams all have to be contained, transported and left somewhere while I figure out where my life is heading.
I’m a sentimental person. I bought the couch two years ago with the specific purpose of having a comfortable place to do all the reading a Master’s in English literature entails. It has been put to good use. My boyfriend and I have spent at least an hour on it every single night, watching our series or a movie. I’ve fallen asleep on it countless times and napped more hours than I probably should’ve in its cushy embrace.
I’m selling it for a fraction of its original price, and getting it out of the flat will involve the dislocation of our security gate, or a pulley out the window.
Piecemeal, our flat will become empty. Our accumulation will be spread over two or three provinces and things will literally never be the same again. We will drift around for a year or two, looking for work or PhD opportunities, and who knows when we will have the chance to be alone again, to be ourselves together? This all scares the living shit out of me.
The amount of ‘what ifs’ scrambling through my mind increases with every decision we make and every new realisation that dawns. My coffee grinder will accumulate dust somewhere. Our coffee machine – our dear little dynamo that has given us so much caffeine, read life – what happens to it? And all of these silly little worries are building up to the big ‘what will my life be like when I leave the university?’ The questions of a job, earning a salary or at least some money, settling down and doing something with the strange expanse of time that lies in wait are screaming at the back of my head.
Yes, I am definitely freaking out a little bit.
The only counters I can think of are the thoughts and daydreams of what will be and what may be. Next year, we will sit in little cafés in Amsterdam and sip coffee as we watch the tourists go by. We will visit museums and walk through cities like we can’t do here in Grahamstown. We will play with sisters’ cats and ride bicycles through tree-lined streets.
We might find amazing universities overseas. We might actually get jobs and eventually have a new little flat somewhere, that we can fill with new things, old books and the photos from our adventures. We will make a new life, construct it as we have constructed this one, and perhaps it won’t be so different.
Somewhere a little voice whispers that this might be naive, but a stronger one asserts that this is the only option. Things have to be sold. Life recycles life. There will be other desks and coffee machines and couches that I will love and let go. My life will change. Sometimes for the worse, but also for the better.
All I really need to feel at home are my boyfriend, my laptop and my books, and I recently got a Kindle, so all should be well.