It was almost a year ago exactly that I wrote of my travels to Ghana to visit my boyfriend during his Peace Corps service. Well, twelve months have passed, a degree has been completed, a city, a house and many wonderful people have very sadly been left behind, an old room, my old room has been stripped and painted and I find myself sitting in it, surrounded by boxes of childhood treasures, ballet shoes, vintage dresses, stacks of scripts and cookery books, a sewing machine and a brightly coloured collection of fabric.
The last arrived with me yesterday morning after I returned from my second trip to Ghana to go and visit the boy. This time I went prepared, leaving space in my case for a pile of printed material, a bottle of cocoa brandy, several yards of glass beads, two dresses, some trousers, a box of tea and a few other bits and pieces. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to go back to Africa a second time and even more so to have been able to spend three whole weeks being an actual girlfriend, with an actual boyfriend, who I could see and smell and snuggle as much as I wanted.
Back in England, in my oddly cluttered uncluttered room, I am sad, of course. Leaving is always hard but for us, inevitable and not uncommon either and next time there won’t be a goodbye… next time he comes back for good. And maybe it was knowing that that changed things but returning this time felt different. I now have a whole new chapter to start. A move to London, the beginnings of a creative career that has been almost sixteen years in the making, a financial leap of faith that I’m still not sure I’m ready for and what seems like a lifetime of possessions to sort out before I up sticks and leave again.
I have eight months before my boyfriend gets back. Eight months to move, make money, make friends, make contacts and to try to make a name for myself. I also have eight months until I have to leave London, pack my life onto a cargo ship, say goodbye to my friends and family and leave for the United States. A lot can happen in eight months… I just hope it’s all going to fit.