I remember the first time I came to Ipswich. It was a sunny Bank Holiday weekend in August and my knowledge of the area was pretty slim. I’d been to a wedding in Norfolk aged about 12 but other than that, nada, East Anglia was completely alien to me.
I was going to that part of a world to stay with a boy. A boy who I’d met on a night out in Shoreditch (punch me in the face for being such a London cliche, please) and I remember tweeting about my impending mini vay-cay as I hurtled through the Essex and Suffolk countryside on the train.
One boy pal tweeted back to me something alone the lines of ‘why the <enter swear word here> are you going to that <enter swear word here> hole?’.
But I get it.
Because, and I feel like I can say this now after 18 months of being an Ippers resident, Ipswich isn’t the prettiest place in the world. It is an average town with average shops and average restaurants and an average way of life.
It has a bit of a grey reputation. I mean it doesn’t deserve the bad rep it has, aside from the docks area where I sometimes have to go to pick up missed APC deliveries and there’s all these lorries and horrific buildings that say ‘do not enter, risk of death’ and it legit looks like I have wandered onto the set of CSI and might actually die.
But aside from that, it is home.
It is my home.
It is home in a way which nowhere has ever felt before.
And I feel like as I’m typing these words my heart is opening and I feel a little vulnerable and awkward and HI GUYS THIS IS EMBARRASSING BECAUSE WHERE HAS ALL THIS EMOTION COME FROM.
Y’see, without spinning some long ol’ story about my childhood and deepest desires, all I’ve ever wanted, heck all I’ve ever needed, is stability and vom-down-myself, love.
Bladdy heck, I think I might do a cry in Starbucks. What even is life. This was not what I had planned for a jolly, sunny Monday lunchtime.
ANYWAY, moving on. I’ve forgotten what the point of this post was and now I’m rambling and my head feels like it looks like a LUSH bath bomb swirling around and fizzing in a whirlwind of magical colours and emotions. Lol.
Living in Ipswich has kinda saved my head from itself. It has given me a stable platform to build my dream life from, to understand happiness, to make myself happy, to learn to love myself and to see the beauty surrounding me in each and every day.
It has given me space to breathe, to step back from the ferocious way of London life, and to reassess what I really want from my present and my future.
Ipswich isn’t beautiful (unless you travel about five minutes outside of it in any direction and then hello Instagram porn sent from the internet gods), but it is everything to me.
I miss London and I miss Sussex. I miss the spectacular brunch options and ‘fashion’ stock in high street shops that London has to offer, and the buzz and the opportunities and the people. I miss watching the sea and clearing my head, and a little part of me even misses the fear of bumping into people you used to fancy at school when you’re in your trackies and not wearing a bra in Tesco, that I get in Sussex.
But I don’t miss them enough to ever dwell on my decision to move to Ipswich. Because here I have it all. I have the family and the home and my own independence and space.
I have Chris and the cats and my own office.
I have my gym membership and my car and I have London 75 minutes away, whilst still having rolling hills and country walks within my grasp.
I live a good life. I admit it. I have more than my teenage self could probably envisage.
Although she’d probably do a snort about living in Ipswich and say ‘wait, isn’t that where all those prostitutes were murdered?’ because heck, that’s what people say to me after a few glasses of wine.
It seems like the only event or thing in recent history that puts it on the map.
But hey, we’ve all got our demons and dark moments, eh?
So Ipswich might not be glittering and fast-paced and full of character (although we *might* be getting a Wagamama and I have just discovered a new fave brekkie spot a few miles away, so y’know, things are seriously looking up), but it’s my place.
My happy place. The place turned me from a chaotic twenty-something trying to find her feet and her mental stability, into a sane twenty-something, settled within herself, her career and her relationship and I adore that.
Here’s to a bright and shiny future, Ippers, we’re good together <3