It feels like it was only yesterday if I'm honest. The big move and life change was prompted by my relationship breakdown. I was with him for 13 years and when we separated it was like my whole world fell apart around me.
Me and all of my stuff was back at my mothers, well truth be told most of it had never left. My former partner spent much of the year travelling for work so my time was split between 'his' apartment and at my Mums when he was away. Not the most functional way of living but it worked for us and I was never one to spend time alone.
So for me the idea of living entirely by myself was terrifying. I had spent time getting my flat habitable but still the idea of living alone was pretty daunting.
I'll never forget the day my removals lorry turned up, all of my worldly possessions were packed up in my mums living room with Vixen sitting on my boxes and Phoenix surrounded by piles of boxes and bags.
When it was all unloaded into my flat I honestly didn't know where to start. My flat has a huge living room and this was where the majority of the boxes were left, I didn't know what to do. Thankfully my best friend was on hand for the day to help, he met my removals lorry at the new place and began unloading. He just took charge of the situation and got on with it. Clearly living as an independent woman was off to a shaky start as I needed a man with me just to unpack. He ended up spending the first few nights with me making sure I was OK and didn't need any "man" jobs doing around the place.
That first night was weird, my two cats who I'd only adopted a year beforehand curled up with me on the bed, apparently I looked like a mother cat with her kittens. I was worried how they'd handle a move but they settled straight in.
When it really hit me was the first day I was left completely by myself. I sat on the sofa that afternoon and thought to myself "well now what do I do?" "What time will I have dinner?" "What will I have?" "Oh God can I even cook? or work the oven?"
I had a sandwich that night.
I always hated getting up early, anything before 10:30am was unheard of for me, and within a few days I found myself getting up at 6am. That was the time the cats decided they'd wake me up. Maybe it was because it was summer, it was the middle of the 2018 heatwave. It wouldn't last. Guess what? It did. Now I get up between 5:30 and 6:00am most mornings. Once a week I might go back to bed and sleep in until around 11 but even that's a rarity.
My body didn't know what was happening. One night I found myself going to bed at 8:30pm as I was so tired. That was short lived, most nights 11:30-midnight is my bedtime. Other nights its more like 2am.
What is strange is how much extra time I have, probably because I get up earlier but it is amazing how much I can do in one day. I've found my creative spark again and am now finding myself doing artwork and craft work a few afternoons a week. I'm finding it much easier to sit down and write and for the first time in my life really I've discovered TV and netflix. I hardly used to watch the TV before, only the soaps but now I spend most evenings watching TV shows that I've never usually watched or binge watching series on Netflix.
Of course I have made mistakes along the way. I burnt and undercooked food for the first few weeks. Mealtimes were disasters, though through some miracle I've actually become a really good cook over the past year. I never really cooked before, there was always someone else to do it for me but now I really enjoy it. I find myself cooking for my friends quite a bit and when they ask for a particular dish I know I must be doing something right.
My most commonly used shops have been John Lewis and Argos, I think I have been Argos' best customer, the things I have lugged home. Why is everything so over packaged? massive boxes for something seemingly small. It's madness. You don't realise how much you're going to need to buy for your first home alone.
Other mistakes I've made have been programming the washing machine onto a three hour cycle, mis-ordering on the grocery shopping and way too many DIY disasters to name.
I have refound my love of gardening this year. Last year my garden was pretty sparse. This year I've really tried to take my time with it. I've bought a fair few plants and grown my own from seed. That has been so satisfying. My garden is my little haven of calm now and looks so pretty. Indoors I've been growing lots of indoor plants from seed. My kitchen windowsill is like my little greenhouse, it gets so much sun its ideal for plants.
Thinking back it has been a year of ups and downs. I didn't think I'd last long on my own but it's a year and you know what I've survived. I haven't accidentally killed myself, poisoned myself or burnt the house down and only one trip to A&E (dropped the wheelie bin on my foot and broke it) So a year on I am now a decent cook, pretty self sufficient and rather independent. Living alone hasn't been so bad, mainly because my flat is like Monica's in friends, there's always someone stopping by or inviting themselves for a weekend but that's the fun of it. It's a happy place and people are always welcome. As long as they don't mind being covered in cat fur.