I stand at the kitchen island, looking at a rich chocolate cake and the flame of a candle flickering in the dark. Behind me the sink hides the remains of dinner, the empty cookware weathered from months on the road. All around, the house is empty, rooms resonating and echoing with the quiet sounds of my footsteps and laptop. In my bedroom, my deflating sleeping mat is hidden below my sleeping bag still cocooned into its bivvy bag.
This is all a bit ridiculous, but my partner and new housemate have not moved in yet. So I’m alone, in this new house, in this new city, camping within four walls. Family and friends have laughed at how ridiculous this is but it feels right to end the year as it started.
For months I have been on the road, happily cycling in the Iberian Peninsula with not a care in the world. Life was easy back then. There was nothing to think about, no commitments, no rent, no bills. But I came back and life got complicated. I felt trapped by modern sedentary life. I wanted to go away, shut myself from job applications and house hunting. But how could I? I needed to be there, ready to jump on the coach to Bristol to attend an interview and visit a house. My life was not mine to enjoy. It was held at the mercy of employers and estate agents. I was not happy.
I spent long hours on my longboard, the focus needed to acquire new skills obliterating every thoughts from my mind. But however long I stood on that board, I always needed to come home, to check e-mails, to apply for jobs, to arrange for viewings.
I became drained. I snapped and yelled and cried. And finally, after three months of toing and froing from London to Bristol, and countless rejections, I found a home and a job. A home that is empty for now but will soon be filled with friends, with books and bikes and maps and happiness. And a job that is unlike anything I’ve ever done but is getting me excited.
I blow out the candle on the cake, I dip my fork into it, and I savour every last bit of it. I have earned this moment.