The thing about Edinburgh is everybody leaves.
I’m used to it. Get a partner in crime, enjoy a bunch of adventures with them, and then eventually they’ll leave town because they fell in love or they can’t get decent work here or they’re from the wrong country and they’re not allowed to stay any longer. It is disappointing, yes. I prefer not to think about it. But when I do think about it, I bear in mind that new partners in crime inevitably turn up and the process repeats itself.
So now it’s my turn.
I can’t believe you’re leaving, says my best friend, who insists on being identified here only as Penguin. I am so over this place. Get me the fuck out of here.
I have lived here since 19fucking96, I explain. I have seen a million people come and go. I am only leaving for a while. I am TOTALLY ALLOWED.
And you’re going to Berlin, she continues, possibly wringing her hands. That is just so totally not fair.
Apart from Berlin being, you know, generally cool, her boyfriend lives there. But the fact I’ve chosen Berlin is largely coincidental: I’m flatsitting, rent-free. If you were already jealous, feel free to crank that jealousy up a notch right about now.
My departure is kind of the last straw for her. She’s moving into my flat when I leave, saving money, and then relocating to Berlin long-term in a few months’ time. On one hand, this means we will get to hang out in Berlin. On the other, when I return to Edinburgh she won’t be here, and that’s going to be weird.
I’ve always seen this city as my home, my base. Somehow even when I was thirteen I knew I would move to Edinburgh. True, it’s overwhelmingly populated by hippies and goths, who, while generally being very nice people, are not quite my type. But I can work with this place. You don’t see what you want here? You make it happen yourself.
Right now, though, the only sure thing I’ve got is that I’m going to live in Berlin for a while. Probably I’ll come back to Edinburgh after that, but technically anything could happen. I have a degree of stability in my life, but I also have a ton of uncertainty: if I don’t get a decent amount of work within the next however many months, I’m not going to be able to sustain the way I’m currently living, which is already low-budget. The flipside of this is the good thing about not being attached to a regular job: I have the freedom to take any opportunity that comes my way.
So right now I’m okay with the uncertainty: at the end of this month it’ll be a year since I joined the redundancy club, and although I’ve worried a couple times during that year, the worry has been pretty low-key, and generally I’m content to just get on with things and see what happens. Still. It’s interesting, to have no idea what comes next.
Where were you before Edinburgh?
I’ve lived in Glasgow for nearly 14 years now and I feel like it is home, but maybe I should try having home be somewhere else for a while. Because it will always still be home when I want to come back, and in another way it never was really home because I’m not from here. As I’m sure you can tell, the concept of ‘home’ both fascinated and confuses me.
I grew up in Northern Ireland. I moved from there to here for university, and then stuck around. I’ve often felt a bit boring for not packing up all my belongings and living in a gazillion different places as per some of my friends, but on the other hand, I travel more than most, so it’s not like life is dull in that respect.
I actually feel included when people talk about Scots, though that may not always be their intention. I’m also more fond of Northern Ireland than I used to be, but this place seems to make a whole lot more sense in terms of where I fit in.
I still don’t feel included in “Scottish people”, despite having two Scottish parents and spending 14 years here. It’s probably because I’ve hung onto my English accent.