7 years (i)

Seven years ago this week I arrived in Manchester.

I had big dreams, big PTSD after leaving a physically and psychologically violent man, my life savings all in one basket, and I was shit-scared on top of shit-scared.

But my hope was stronger than fear. Just. It fuelled me to believe that if I kept asking and answering one question, day by day, it might be possible to remake my life:

Who might I be if I didn’t live in fear?

In all-or-nothing fashion, quitting my career, leaving friends and family, and moving from Australia to England where I knew no one, all to pursue my childhood dream seemed a big enough start towards finding an answer.

This was one of the streets I found on one of my first running routes in Manchester. I remember running here with unfamiliar autumn air on my skin, under strange deciduous trees and beautifully pale, luminous skies. I remember running to try and exhaust fear – because of course, it didn’t get left behind in Australia. “What have you done? You’ll never be a writer.” I remember running, spotting this sign every time I turned down this street, hoping that if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, I’d find my way.

Who might I be if I didn’t live in fear?
Step, by step, by step.

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Standing here seven years later, with all the gifts (you know who you are!) each year has given me as I’ve continued to ask myself the same question; with my novel finished and in the hands of my agents, I am closer to knowing my answer than I’ve ever been. And am so grateful.

Dear Manchester, neither of us ever saw it coming, but here we are: seven years together. It’s been an intense love-and-hate affair at times, but the more I’ve loved where I am in life, the more I’ve loved my life with you. Plus, leaving you in winter to flee home to my beloveds and the Queensland sunshine hasn’t hurt our relationship one little bit.

Also, Sam, but that’s another post altogether.

Manchester, Manchester, thank you for teaching me what happens when you trust yourself enough to leap.

Whatever step you might need to take, I hope you get closer to taking it today. You can do it. Step, by step, by step.

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