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I moved to Brighton in June last year, which means it’s our ultra romantic anniversary soon. I am happy. I moved to Brighton from the Midlands the second I finished University, in search of a little bit more health and happiness than I had back home. I had been suffering terribly with various sicknesses and trauma and family difficulties, and I thought that 150 miles and some sea air was what I needed. Whilst I am of course not completely recovered, I am an entirely different person than I was this time last year. I feel quite content. I still have no money, I still suffer from various maladies, I still fight with my family – but now I am here, and they are there, and I have a little life of my own.

When I arrived in Brighton we rented a shithole flat and I got a couple of shit jobs but I was pretty happy to see the sea everyday. I had left my entire life, everyone I had ever known behind. My partner had no job to speak of and I had no friends. But I started to make connections and then I flew to magical California for two weeks, which changed everything. The people I met out there imbued me with an entirely different attitude and whilst I was still sick and poor, I developed a much better outlook. When I came home I met the drummer of one of my favourite bands through a retail job and went jogging with him. It was weird. I then got a job in a bar that I really, really liked for a while. I started my course and I hated it, I felt like everyone at Sussex was a giant snob and I was wasting my time. Nobody seemed to understand where I was coming from with my work but I stuck with it.

In November I moved house, to a beautiful flat with an amazing landlady. Having a real home two minutes from the sea with a nice, sunny bedroom made things easier. I worked almost full time at my bar job, made some friends, drank with them once a week or so. I was back to being bar bitch and having lock-ins and working hard at uni. I loved it. Christmas came and went in a blur of hosting parties and events and cooking Christmas dinner. I had my first dinner in my own home, far from my family. With my own little family. We cooked and watched eight movies and stayed in our pyjamas and it was perfect. I went home in January to see everyone and saw in the New Year with my best friends. A few days later, my best friend came to me to look for a home. We found her a lovely one, two minutes from our house. Our friends moved in February, and Brighton became even sunnier. Our home and theirs was full of life and cups of tea and weekend fun. I made some more friends through work, took day trips, and really started to love Brighton even more.

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In April I lost that bar job and I started to work on my uni projects solidly. I miss working and I miss the constant contact with people, but I am working on myself and my work. I am happy. I just booked flights to California. I spent last weekend drinking with my best friends in a bar and I realised that I would not want to be anywhere else in the world. I am so sincerely happy. i still get depressed, I still get sick, but I am not unhappy with my circumstances anymore. I really struggled for the first part of my life and I am proud of the little life I have carved out for myself. It was hard financially to move to the most expensive part of England virtually alone, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I live seconds away from my friends in the most creative, colourful, beautiful place I have ever lived. I see the sea every day. There are weird theme nights for every interest I have at any time, somewhere in the city. Here’s to the next year in Brighton.

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I felt an ache, that I was needed back home / that I had loose ends, after I ran away last summer / so I got a fucking train from Brighton station / and I waited in St Pancras and I thought, with the opportunity to travel, why would I go back? / But I did and I sat on that train and I read On the Road and I thought yeah, I wish I was on the road / I wish I was in a car, in the American desert / I wish I could look up and see palm trees but instead, I am regressing and I am becoming fifteen again. / So I waited in a car park that I had so often been drunk in, and I stood in the rain and waited to be disappointed. / I saw my friends and their families and I felt disjointed / back in time / sitting on a park breathing in smoke and dew. / I saw some old friends that I used to run away with, and they were disappointed that i had run away alone / that my voice was different, that I had gone out on my own. / I saw my sister and her future, and I read old school books to revisit the spirited child that I once was /  I listened to my grandad talk about how he would die, and that I shouldn’t expect him to live longer than 86 / He is 85. / I drove along roads I learned to drive on, in the backseat with the windows open / singing to the village. / I drank and I reminisced and I laughed and I missed the past I had / but the city, the towns feel smaller and I have outgrown them. / Every corner, every house, every pub delivered back to me memories that I had repressed so fully. / Everyone that told me I had changed sent me back to feeling small and like I am not capable of growing. / You can never go home again / I got the train from the village station and I said goodbye to my friend but I was glad to be heading back to the sea / I slept most of the way and I smiled at St Pancras, knowing it couldn’t be much longer / I breathed in the sea air, in a town where I have so much to discover yet. / I have made a home, and everybody can live without me, now.

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I am restless and spirited
not to say: I am not happy
as I am, of course, home
but with a fire in my heart

I did not die – I am yet alive, only
through ambition and an endless
desire for better, best, happiest

Somebody else might have died
when their mother left them, when
they were punished, left behind
but I am a miracle of perseverance
and grateful for the strength I have

I am only as good as where I am going
what I know, what I plan to keep doing
I left, and you know by now
that you should not have let me go

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We can’t avoid the morning, we sang
and yet we tried at 3am to keep walking
our parents hadn’t a clue, that we lived
inside broken bottles, relishing youth
that we barely knew we had, that we
took for granted with everything else

Ten pounds in cash, twenty cigarettes
stolen, send an older friend to the store
and our problems were solved, in parks
and on the floor. We were safer, together

I left quickly, never thinking I would wilfully
travel back down that road, knock again
on your door. There are a hundred things
I would have said, a hundred more things
I keep close to me. Open windows, my
breath at dawn; feet freezing blue in a river

These are things I haven’t had since
a hundred things you gave to me
I never breathed your secrets, never
spilled out those Friday nights

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It’s hard to admit I love a place that
whilst formative, was destructive
restricting, having a stranglehold
on growth; on any chance to live

It wasn’t until I left I could see it
for what it was, for a catalyst
I got out of there fully grown before
most children learned to stand alone

Wherein I saw the dirt, smog and
fields bring my family down, I felt
it forming me, pushing me out
to stand by the sea
on my own two feet

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Every hair on my body is raised, my
eyes water, my ears burn – and yet
the wind it still blows, viciously
it has been sent from the sea
to come over my town, and torture me

It is days like this – dark days, wet days
that i long for California. The rolling
hills, these little tiny towns – they
just don’t do it for me, anymore
If I never go back to California – and
feel that still, dry heat upon my skin
I hope that I can reach into myself
and find a West Coast in me, a tranquil
dry paradise sitting carefully, waiting
for me – inside my freezing chest

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Sister soldier, I wish I could have told you
that I knew, that I grew up fighting
at your side, that for everything I drank
every drug that I tried, you were there too

And to your family – a father and mother
so unlike my own, often present
often giving, never noticing when we went
when we slid out of the open window
and disappeared

So I am sorry that we let anything
get between us and our 3am
and that you have lost a father
I know he was not my own, I know
you are not my sister, my friend
but you were once – and nothing
could justify such a violent end

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