Today I made piles of things. Sad little drifts of paper covered in dust. Bits and pieces of jewellery. Books. Records.
I threw away half of Tash's letters. I only didn't throw all of them away because I didn't find the others until later; they were in a folder marked 'Letters 2 ME'. When we were very young, eh? I read the end of one of the letters; it said "Now I shall sign off and eagerly await your reply." Poor Tash. I never once wrote to her. The other envelopes told a cold story, as she used to surround the address with drawn symbols indicating her state of mind. The first envelope had hearts, the second stars, the third question marks, the fourth teardrops, the fifth nothing. You couldn't make this stuff up. I put them in the bin and covered them with a plastic bag full of perfume samples.
I found the valentine's card Russell gave me when I was eleven or twelve. That year we'd gone to the pier in Eastbourne and he won me a cuddly thing. I also found the local newspaper cutting he sent me when he won a fishing competition. It would never have worked.
In just about every pile of stuff, drawer or cupboard I went through was something from G. Endless cards and notes and present tags. At the time I never knew she was in love with me.
I also found the card from Sarah's funeral, mercifully with a copy of the picture of her that I still can't find in London. With it was the script for the memorial service they didn't want us to hold at school. Deep in the 'Letters 2 ME' folder was a note she'd written me in exams. It didn't say anything much besides 'I'm bored' in all the different colour pens she had with her at the time. I miss her.
I've been through about four hundred Christmas cards, checking for anything that I hadn't already taken to London that I badly wanted to keep. I think the only one I'll be taking with me is from Gemma, a girl at school I had a desperate, mindbending crush on. I remember being amazed that she would send me a card at all because I was convinced she hated me for the way I felt about her. She signed it "Gemma (stupid skater girl who you often want to punch)". I remain bewildered.
The playscripts are endless and humiliating. Every time the House Play festival came around at Roedean I would somehow blag a copy of the script for each house's play because there would inevitably be someone in them that I had a crush on. I'd then go through recasting it with myself as their love interest - I'd rewrite the whole thing if they didn't have one - and make notes in the margin saying things like "Here he makes eyes @ her but she doesn't kno y". I don't know why I'm telling you this.
The only thing that's threatened to make me cry today, other than sorting out which records I have to have with me and therefore looking at three shelves full of the ones I'll leave behind, was finding a cache of tiny bits of paper in a pile of bigger ones. Each one had the name of an early 80s song and its artist written on it in different shiny pens, with haphazard artwork symbolising the title of the song, or not, in the case of 'True Faith' which was up and down a flight of steps for some reason. With them was a bigger piece of paper covered in stars, between which was written 'Songs of the New Romantics! 1971-1985'. I don't remember making them, and I'm not sure why they made me almost cry. I haven't cried at all today.
I found the birthday card to me from Mr. and Mrs. Woolvett, but not the one from Tom. Painful honesty requires me to explain that the damn thing is probably already in London as it's one of my most treasured possessions. Oh god.
Bits of fanfiction kept turning up. Dodgy Smashing Pumpkins fic in which Billy comes in his pants (the one where James is fixated on the latex shirt is in London). The beginning of the Chino/Brandon rape story. Printed copies of someone else's Harry Potter fanfiction and the Sherlock Holmes one with the word 'placket' in that used to make me laugh. I've left them all behind.
Ken and Paul are coming with me, though, and I uncovered the 'Ain't Life A Drag?' postcard from Brighton with the stunning drag queen on it.
I found my charm bracelet in a drawer. I am horrified that it's been down here all this time. It's very pretty. I hate that I'm thinking about how much it might be worth if I sold it.
There were cards and letter from Gideon, which I'll also take with me. I can't find the postcard I always talk about, but I genuinely think that's because I put it somewhere or got rid of it rather than because it never existed - I remember it very clearly. I think I'll leave behind his present of three wooden chickens on a little board. I'll probably take the green glass bowl with me, though, if I can find it. Speaking of, mum has said I can have the Erte plates (obviously she doesn't know I'm planning to skip town with them, but) so when I take them it won't be stealing, which is good. I will not leave them behind. They are the most beautiful things ever to be found in an offer on the back of a magazine.
Not that many books are coming with me. All the David Eddings I can turn up, Good Omens, all the Green Knowe books, all the Anne Rice I've still got and a bundle of other books from my childhood, early and late. I don't know why but I'm as attached to 'My Day' and the one about the little brother and the jam biscuits as I am to 'The Whispering Knights' by Penelope Lively. I can't find 'The Snow Spider'. I'm sure it was there last week.
I've taken the clock down off my music room wall so I don't forget it when I come back. It's gorgeous and extremely 80s and should be with me in London anyway, really. Other unwieldy things include a framed Aubrey Beardsley print (if it turns out to be an original I won't honestly be surprised, you know what my family are like) and a picture I found in a junk shop that's an extremely oversentimental portrait of a young boy looking soulful. It's even framed in a gold frame with red velour on it. It's hopelessly tacky but I can't help it, I loved it on sight and I still do.
I can't bear to think about the records. I keep telling them I'm sorry and then feeling like a complete idiot. Most of them are songs I can't stand, even, that came in the big box of records I kickstarted my collection with, but it's still awful. Rows of dusty little spines. Most of them were there when I repainted that room in the first place, covering the unnecessary yellow with the obviously much more necessary purple and black whilst listening over and over again to Vienna by Ultravox. I thought I was the only New Romantic in the world and I was determined to live the dream of it, even if only in that room. Somewhere in one of the piles there's a poem I barely glanced at - I keep all my poetry, you have to - about how magical and brilliant the 80s seemed to me because I was hardly there for them. Some things never change.
The only thing I haven't been through now is the huge wooden trunk in the music room, because I know what's in there - folders of 80s posters, which will be coming with me, and a billion early copies of The Face magazine, which I sincerely hope I won't have to leave behind. Everything else has been gone through, everything else has been put back. I'm leaving the board games, apart from the Duran Duran one of course. I'm taking the stamp albums.
This has been a very strange day. My hands are tacky with dust.
I wish someone else could have been here with me.