Three months in

As the title might suggest, I'm almost three months into uni already. Quarter of a year. Somehow, that seems an appropriate time for a reflection - a little more than a list of 50 things I've learnt.

Whilst there are still some routines I'm trying to settle into, like keeping up an hour of shorthand a day, there are a lot I've developed, some I'm trying to improve, and some I've just accepted are never going to happen, like any form of "weekly shop". But somehow, the semi-development of these routines has thrown me away from the oh-everything-is-so-fresh-and-new-at-uni, desperate to absorb every moment, putting the "fresh" in Fresher attitude I had through September and October.

After spending the first solid month at uni, I eventually went home to put on a show and drink in Derby, on a Monday, until half two. This began three solid weeks where I traveled half of the days (I worked this out on a very unexpected bus journey from Crewe to Stoke in the middle of the night). Somewhere in the middle of this, whilst sat on London's south bank in the middle of the night, I found the word, "home" cropping into mind in conjunction with Stoke - it wasn't the first time, I'd previously had the same thought whilst waiting for a train in the equally confusing and dull Stockport train station three weeks into uni when I realised I'd forgotten my ID, but it somehow felt, pretentiously, more profound whilst I watched the Thames.

Over the past few weeks I seem to have had my time split between the East and West Midlands - fitting for someone whose obscure house is allegedly in the West whilst the rest of the street is in the East. Returning to my actual parents' home in Derby feels odd; not only is all my stuff - my guitar, generally my laptop, my clothes, my books, my writing - thirty odd miles away, the city is also almost entirely empty. Those who haven't gone away for uni are working or otherwise busy, and it'd once in a blue moon to meet up with someone in Derby - but a mere wander through the city centre shows me more than a handful of people I know.

The same could be said for Nottingham - another place I vigorously defend as a version of my home town. Here, I've a fair snatch of friends at the uni, and here I put on gigs, and know the pubs and cash points and clubs and generally feel as at home as I do in Derby; but again, there's the lack of my stuff, let alone a place to actually sleep.

And of course, in Stoke, all my stuff is there, in my own room, and I have a place to sleep, but there is none of the odd present-moment nostalgia of Derby and Nottingham, nor the familiar friends. And the problems of "who stole my milk/saucepan/hasn't cleaned the shower?" are beginning to raise their ugly head.

So I've spent the past few weeks strung out across this Orion's belt of Midlands cities, flicking between them and never quite sure when I'll be back in any.
And after a random trip back to the East last Friday, I'm hyper-aware that I can't wait to go back to Derby and Nottingham.
There's something about seeing old friends in the street, or going out for a meal with them, that spikes your attention to the fact that no matter how deep you build a friendship in three months, it's never quite going to scratch on the familiarity two, three, four, eight, fourteen years gives you.
Also the fact that Nottingham has a better Christmas market, both cities have better theatres, and there generally seems to be more art milling around there.

In Stoke, I've substituted culture for a two pan dish involving more than four ingredients and a film on Amazon Prime.

I don't think I'm the only one feeling this. Over the past week or so I've been talking to people from back home and there feels, in general, a sense that we've done our weeks, our initiation, perhaps, and we all need a break to group back up with the people we spent college with, and find our happy places of Heavenly Desserts, The Bless, and the vodka Vimto that seems elusive to everywhere but Derby.

It's a curious thing - to miss home but not be homesick, the way you miss a holiday destination. And though people have called it a trek, I'm getting accustomed to train stations and it rather feels like I'm living in several places all at once.

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