Farewell, Ipswich.

Without warning Sunday, January 17th stormed in on Bull Rd and it was all too late to try to stay in Ipswich. Had I clung to Maria´s bedframe in a vain attempt to remain, the bed would have flown out to the cinque and buggered off to Stansted dragging me along. Change was indeed inevitable and the path to Stockholm was wide open.

My moving, rummaging, and packaging were all but done. The last 2 boxes had been taped up so much they looked like Egyptian mummies at the British Museum. They were now idly waiting in the living room for the UPS man to come and pick them up. (to be continued…)

Next to the boxes, I had brought down my suitcase –  my faithful black Delsey that has followed me so far to all the countries I lived in – and my Quechua backpack suffering from a bad back after the two flat metal rods that are meant to sustain had been lost in action while being hurled on ‘yet another on-time flight’ by Ryanair. My room, my sacred sanctum, my alcove, my refuge was now an empty rectangular bit of space with sole ornament a clothes hanger on wheels, remnants of my once full closet. In the corner, my rolled-up sleeping bag was a reminder I would no longer camp here. It was time for Herr Gorena to take away my house keys.

Going without a final pint would have seemed inappropriate so Ruben and I headed out in his clunky cinque and we met with the chaps, the usual Spanish gang, at McGintys, the local Irish pub where we had seen many a rugby match and an unforgettable Confederations Cup semi-final which saw the USA cruise past the Invincible Armada of Spain. Tanya and I had celebrated that night! Over at the pub, we sipped a few pints and mingled with newly arrived teacher assistants from across Germany, France, and Spain. New faces taking over older ones. With an Adnams Broadside in my hand, Nick and I (2 of the 4 veteran musketeers) recollected long-gone memories of audacious nurses flirting with BT students from their top-floor Pearson Rd apartments. Soon the pub shut down and we headed home after one last round of goodbyes, hugs, and forget-me-nots.

In our living room, Maria, Ruben, and I shared a few final thoughts before driving off to the Old Cattle Market where the Stansted-bound bus was waiting. A merrily inebriated Rebecca met us there for one last group hug. And then, after an elated Glaswegian bus driver had chucked my luggage in the bus’s hold and given chicken to Rubén, the bus drove off leaving Ipswich behind. It was 02:30 a.m. on a dark Sunday dawn and as they say in Friends, it was the end of an era…