I lived in a cottage on a hill. Flanked by a view of Canary Wharf on one side and cocooned by Muswell Hill on the other side, we lived in isolation somewhere in between. Around the side of the cottage, children would burn papers in a narrow lane and the smoke would fall into our garden, disturbing the bees in the process. Late at night, we thought we could hear things and I would creep into the kitchen in the darkness, you would perch behind me. In the morning, we’d find nothing. Later that year, you were there alone in the cottage while I was spending the winter in the Nevada desert. I called you from a phone booth in Death Valley and 16 hours later I was walking along Archway Road in the cold, grey morning.
Shortly after, it was your turn to leave. I lived on for a while in the cottage as you began shipping your boxes over the Atlantic. Eventually, little remained of yours except for the unused frozen items in the freezer. Later, I would collect your post before taking it with me to America. It fell to the floor every few days. By that time, the notices, announcements, and statements had expired and once in America you threw them away. I lived on in the house, though, guarding over the memory of seclusion, ensuring our local newsagent knew of your whereabouts. Shortly before I came to see you, my father packed all my boxes into his white 1980s Mercedes estate, affixed with rope and cables to the roof. Leaving London, we stopped off at a greasy spoon with the car parked outside and I never saw the cottage again. Amorphous memories of a cloistered life: set far into the distance, they punctuate the overcast stillness on this Sunday morning. Neither terrible nor ecstatic: just the undulating hum of memories setting fire to the solitude of the present.