Goodbye Chillerton Road

The summer of 2014 in London will go down as being one of the most memorable, chaotic, passionate and completely free, lose your mind times of my life. A time to say goodbye to the old and to embrace the new, challenging, scary and overwhelming  new path I have somehow managed to find myself skidding sideways head over feet down. It’s been a hell of a ride so far and I’m just getting warmed up.

In the beginning I had it all planned, I would re-visit the glorious fields of Glastonbury one last time. I would slowly tick things off my London (To do list) which I did start doing. Cue crazy/random evening at Hot tub cinema, getting drenched at not one but TWO music festivals – watching the ageing Backstreet Boys take the stage at the British Summertime festival. Catching up with old friends who found themselves visiting London in transit and everything in – between. So much has happened in such a short period of time that I barely know where to begin.

I miss those days where I had no worries about where my life was headed or what I could be doing, should be doing or didn’t do – as is the perpetual stress of our modern day lives. Glastonbury 2014 was different this year – or was it that I was different? Most noticeably the rain, I now believe you haven’t truly experienced Glastonbury until you’ve trudged through it knee-deep in mud in your Wellies. It made those shifts all the more tiring and less fun than the previous year. The group was also bigger – with the lovely Roxanne returning from OZ to join us once again  – seeing her was bittersweet because it was a reminder of the past but also highlighted life after London and marked the beginning of the end of my time here.

The Glastonbury group wasn’t as together this year as there were tensions between certain parties – and things at Chillerton Road had been strained after the constant stream of new house mates followed by an ever-growing pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen which lead to notes about said pile, and lack of housework being completed etc I am not completely guilt free in that it did take me a hell of a long time to finally get around to cleaning the upstairs bathroom – and when I finally did it took hours. The most affected by all the stress it seemed was Emma – one of the kindest most generous people I have ever had the pleasure to meet had become so strung out by the state of the house and the lack of people involved in the planning behind the Glastonbury trip that it put a real dampener on her experience. We lost two mother hens when Carolyn and Sheri left and the house is all the poorer for it.

Determined not to let tensions get in the way of our experience – Sam and I went on a mission to find the rabbit hole at Glastonbury – and after asking around and searching the immense grounds on foot, we found it. It turns out it’s just to the right of the bar of the same name. Alice in Wonderland themed you enter a hole in a wall just below the Cheshire cat and on the other side are greeted by characters who exclaim ‘You’re late!’ before ushering you through one of two passageways where you need to crawl for a bit before entering a dance party on the other side. It is pretty small and is packed with people.  Quite proud of ourselves by this stage we headed off. Little did we know the underground piano bar and the rabbit hole are two different night spots. The piano bar is even smaller and better hidden – so if we find ourselves at Glastonbury again next year then that is our next goal. A month and a half on from Glastonbury and the cows have just moved back to worthy farm to graze once again, until next year that is.

And then I fell in Love….well not in that order but life is never orderly.

I was all ready to work hard and pay off this trip that I had booked around Europe, one last spurt of travel before returning to OZ. I had mentally packed my bags and started trying to get used to the idea of coming home and the prospect of starting over again after coming so far. But it happened – we worked together, flirted outrageously laughed and talked for hours about our lives – in my heart of hearts I felt like I could tell him anything. Funnily enough something just clicked one day and all of a sudden I was hooked. My focus had shifted completely. And yes, you could call those beginning stages infatuation – they were. But then after what felt like months of build up and tension it finally became something more, and it seemed I wasn’t alone anymore. I had someone else to consider now, it wasn’t all about me anymore.

He is everything I have ever dreamed of in a man but never thought I would actually be lucky enough to have. He isn’t a fantasy though he was a living breathing human man! and being with him I often feel like I am in a dream. The only problem was the closer we became the harder it got for me because I knew I would have to leave soon. I was angry because the universe seemed to be laughing at me, putting him in my path all the while knowing he could be torn away from me again in an instant.When I looked at him the thought of leaving him behind would enter my mind and my heart would break just a little. So much so that I approached work about sponsorship and it looked promising for a while until I got the answer I had been dreading and my inquiries fell on deaf ears. I looked into studying here, but quickly realized that is strictly reserved for rich overseas kids. I started scouring family tree sites hoping for something – anything.

Seeing how strung out and stressed I had become Roberto said ‘How can I help you? what can I do – I don’t want to let you go..’ I looked at him and sighed ‘You could marry me’ and he said ‘Okay you make the arrangements and we’ll do it, if this is what it takes then we’ll do it’

I looked at him, and could barely believe his selflessness (He later said it was selfishness)but I couldn’t find it in my heart to let him do that for me. So we didn’t speak about it again but it played on my mind constantly. Until one day we were talking and he was complaining about being broke and wanting to buy tobacco I jokingly said ‘I’ll give you ten pounds if you’ll marry me’ – he texted me back his bank details as a joke. An hour later I transferred 10 pound into his bank account with the description ‘Marry me’

A day or so later he asked out of the blue ‘So when is this happening?’ We went down to Wandsworth Town hall a few days later and registered to be married. A little over 16 days later on the 16th of July we married in front of a registrar and Sam and Roberto’s friend Andre witnessed. Me in my old strapless white mini dress I purchased at Top Ryde Shopping centre many years ago and him in a crinkled Primark business shirt and tie that we had hurriedly bought on the way to the ceremony. We were flat broke – Sam took pictures on her phone, and we went and had burgers and beer afterwards. Hardly the kind of wedding a little girl dreams about – but I guess the hardest part was the secrecy surrounding the entire event. The four of us were the only ones who knew at this point. Sam had never even met Roberto before that day – but time was running out and we both knew that we had to act fast.

To say it’s been a walk in the park would be a lie, Roberto was changing jobs at the time and was strapped for cash. I had, had a big month expenditure wise so that put a strain on things. Leading up to the day I had my doubts too – it was so risky, and wasn’t a quick fix. The application was long and drawn out and may take up to 6 months to get an answer. But all I could think was, that I had nothing to lose. Yes it was a huge risk but how many times in my life would I meet such an amazingly charming man ready to risk everything just to be with me – I couldn’t let that go. It wasn’t traditional at all, there was no long drawn out engagement and I missed out on that excitement of telling friends and family. I tell myself that one day we will have that crazy fun celebration with all the trimmings, and now that both our families know about us we are more relaxed about telling other people about it.

And then I moved out of Chillerton Road – I had convinced myself that I would remain in that house, and in that room for the duration of my time here. I was comfortable there, but the house was rapidly changing with an almost constant influx of people arriving and leaving. I will always remember that house so very fondly. The smell of baking wafting through the house, the sound of laughter echoing through it’s many walls. The squeak of the rusty front gate when someone was returning home. The snow on the rooftop that I could reach from my awesome loft room window sill. The smell of jasmine wafting in through the patio doors at summertime. The parties, the cooking, the braai’s (or barbecues for the uninitiated) the late night rooftop conversations. Being a mere 3 minute walk from Sam. The Crowborough road cats, Budgens, Little Bar, Tooting Tram the list is endless. It wasn’t easy to leave, my life though was not going to wait around for me. And the house would always be there – I think the sad thing is knowing that eventually all of the chilled road crew will be  scattered around different geographical locations around the world. Because it was the amazing people in that house that made it a home. I’ll never forget first arriving and feeling so scared of this new life – standing in the park by our house in the dark that first week letting fireworks off for Guy Fawkes I wondered how I would ever survive on my own in this big bad city.

I am currently sitting in Roberto’s lounge room typing, well it’s my lounge room now.  It’s an anxious time, and particularly stressful for me as I am currently stuck in limbo. My independence will be torn from beneath me soon – something I so cherished here. But what I am getting in return makes it so worth the sacrifice. I trust him and he has put a lot of trust in me.

I am going to take this time to re-connect with myself, start writing again, and actually look for work over here that excites me rather than just another menial job. I am lucky in that my current work know about my visa status and that I am currently applying for another visa to stay and they have agreed to keep my contract open so I should be able to return to work at some stage. So I have that as a back up.

This is a true test of who I am and what I want from my life. I am fighting to stay, fighting the fear within me of the unknown. I am someone’s wife now, someone’s sister in law, daughter in law..Yes I am scared about the future, the unknown, but I also feel incredibly lucky each day that we have each other, it’s not perfect but it’s real.  It seems for now that my London tale continues. I’ve said goodbye to a lot these past few months but have opened the door to so much more.

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