It wasn't until I was standing in my empty flat that the reality of moving out, and in with my boyfriend, hit me.
It wasn't the ending that made me pause. it was the powerful reminder of the beginning, and i made me cry.
My flat was unfurnished when I moved in by myself in January 2013. This made me incredibly excited. I am not keen on stuff; I would be a Minimalist given half the chance (and I would only want half of it), living on 37 items that I keep in a duffle bag and the good will of kindly (read: pitying) friends and family.
I ordered essential furniture, as well as Internet (I'm not a savage) but both would take six weeks to arrive. In the meantime, I had my laptop, some DVDs, a dining table and chairs (that inexplicably came with an unfurnished flat), one bowl, one set of cutlery, one saucepan and a couple of glasses. I think they were wine glasses.
When I arrived home from work, I would cook myself a rudimentary meal and watch a DVD. When I had watched all of my DVDs, I watched them again. Living by myself was incredibly quiet, very peaceful and humbling in an unexpected way.
When it is just you and your thoughts and your laptop and your saucepan, everything slows down. Everything feels a little bit sharper, a bit more pronounced.
Bedtime was my favourite part of the day (NB: I am writing this in my deserted office at 9:15 pm, so it probably still is).
I didn't have a bed, but I did have a bedroom, a duvet, some towels and a pillow. I made for myself what is best described as a nest. Every night, I would crawl into my nest and read before having the most comfortable, deep sleep of my life. People from the olden days had it right, I say.
Whoever forced us into beds owes me four and a half years of back pain relief.
Looking back, I had moments of sheer, perfect contentment in those early weeks of my empty flat that I have never experienced since.
I also had some of the lowest moments of my life in that flat.
In that flat, I came the closest I ever have to dying from kidney failure.
In that flat, I cried and begged to have a dialysis machine installed.
In that flat, I cried with happiness when the machine arrived and I started doing my own treatment.
Because that was the sole reason I moved into my flat. To do Home Dialysis, and claw my life back.
I got drunk in that flat and howled with laughter in that flat. I lived with two of my best friends there. I did yoga there, had sex there, had absolutely no sex there, moved the furniture, organised my wardrobe, took baths, bled the radiators, weeded the garden, cooked for loved ones, cooked for awful ones, watched movies, ate junk, ate well, cleaned, and changed jobs.
I struggled with dialysis there. I lay in the darkness and stared at the needles protruding from my arm and wondered how quickly I would bleed to death if I tore them out.
I once lay, frozen and petrified, because I thought there was a burglar in the flat when I was connected to the machine. I hoped the sheer absurdity of the dialysis set-up would make said burglar flee (there wasn't one).
One Sunday night while sitting on the sofa and eating Super Noodles in my flat, I got a call to say there was a kidney for me. And so I got my life back in that flat after all.
Whilst living in that flat, I met and fell in love with the person with whom I have now left if for.
Over the course of a weekend, I sold, recycled and threw away just about everything that I own. I am pretty happy about it.
I felt totally unemotional about the whole thing – it was only stuff. It was just a flat, and the blind on the french doors was broken and you could still see a stain on the carpet from when I did a bit of sick there.
But a few days later and it was just me, standing in my flat for the very last time, looking at it as it looked the very first time I'd stood there.
I was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to go back to those simple days when it was just me and my thoughts and my laptop and my saucepan. I cried to go back, even though it was horrible beautiful. Even though you can never go back.
Instead, I turned the lights out and locked the door behind me.
Memories, happy and poignant, joyful and painful, don't go anywhere.