• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 06

Things to work on

It could be any city. Maybe one of the buildings should be recognisable to me; maybe it is a mishmash of cities. Who knows. I probably should, as an aspiring pub quiz champion, but I need to work on that, along with the many things I have to work on to try and find my place here.

To me the image is Manchester. It is the sunset behind the Whitworth, that one stripe of pink that people always stop to photograph, that greets me as I walk to get pizza from Dominoes on a Saturday night after an unproductive day. It is my totem.

I wish I could stand above the city, find a post, a perch. I have considered going up Beetham many a time, doing the whole standing-on-the-glass-overhang thing, staring at the nothingness beneath me. I say I don't know the logistics of it. Maybe in reality I am afraid. Until I try it I will probably never know.

There are times, height or no height, when I do dare to wonder whether I own the city. Sometimes, at night, as I stand under the rainbow chains of lights in Canal Street, admire the red and orange fountains at Piccadilly, I breathe in and out and feel a community, feel home.

I have fought so hard for belonging. I was not born here. I have been hopping in and out of the country all of my degree, dancing off to the south of France to smell lavender and jasmine, and to the green hills of northern Spain. Still, I want Manchester to be mine. I want to be a part of it, to offer something and be given something. Shelter, protection. Fun. Love, I guess.

A load of flower shops have suddenly appeared out of nowhere, three or four along Oxford Road. I bought myself a trio of white hyacinth bulbs and some purple things I later found out were gentians.


Things to work on

They sat on my windowsill. They smelt better than I ever dreamt they would, and they made me happy. Then the snows came and they died.

I like to look after things. I yearn for pet giant snails, or lovely chunky dogfish. We're not allowed pets in my residence. Sometimes my life feels quite comfortable; sometimes it feels like I am passing time until I enter the real world, get a flat and a job and foster some cats. Find a partner. Have kids. Whether any of that will happen here or in France or Spain, I have no idea.

I am running out of time.

There is no real time for me to start off a new lot of plants, so my windowsill is bare. I walk Oxford Road every evening and find comfort in the purple crocuses and yellow daffodils and the last of the snowdrops. I look at the ever-shining Light That Never Goes Out, as I call it, in the tower of Whitworth Hall. I wonder again whether maybe I should just stay.